Once again, a jury found itself unable to convict a cop for killing an unarmed man – even with fellow cops testifying against the cop.
This time, it was a Texas jury which ended up deadlocked Monday in the case of Garland police officer Patrick Tuter, who was charged with manslaughter for shooting and killing a man named Michael Allen after a high-speech pursuit in August 2012.
Tuter rammed Allen’s truck with his patrol car, then fired 41 times – reloading twice – striking Allen three times, killing him.
Tuter claimed he feared for his life because he saw Allen “reaching” for something, which is a standard excuse cops use to kill besides “lunging” and “charging.”
But his fellow cops testified that they were the ones fearing for their lives because Tuter was shooting so recklessly.
Veteran Garland Officer William Norris says the only time he felt in fear for his life was when Officer Tuter was shooting more than 41 rounds into the truck.
“I didn’t know where he was,” he said.
Veteran Garland police officers took the stand Wednesday for the prosecution, testifying against their former fellow officer.
“Tuter’s shooting was reckless,” Officer Mathew Perry testified.
It was at least the third mistrial of a police officer in the shooting death of a citizen since October, including the mistrial of South Carolina police officer Michael Slager in the shooting death of Walter Scott, the mistrial of Albuquerque police officers Keith Sandy and Dominique Perez in the shooting death of James Boyd and the mistrial of Ohio cop Ray Tensing in the shooting death of Sam DuBose.
So while we’re now seeing a higher rate of cops having to stand trial for killing citizens, we are seeing those juries unable to convict the cops, despite video evidence.
Jurors in this case viewed a dash cam video of the shooting, which has not been released but we are working on obtaining it.
Garland police say the video contradicts Tuter’s initial claims that Allen had rammed his truck into his patrol car, showing, instead, Tuter ramming his patrol car into Allen’s truck before opening fire, which is what led to him being fired and charged with manslaughter.
But Tuter took the stand and stuck to his original story, telling the jury that Allen had rammed his patrol car with his truck, never mind whatever the video may show.
Patrick Tuter looked directly at the jury as he tried to convince them to find him not guilty of manslaughter Thursday in court.
His attorneys showed video as Tuter pursued Michael Allen on Aug. 31, 2012. At times, they hit speeds of more than 120 miles per hour.
“Mr. Allen was being extremely reckless and showing no sign of pulling over,” Tuter said.
He eventually chased him eventually into a cul-de-sac in Mesquite.
“I believed based on what I saw, and experience, that he was going to injure or kill someone,” Tuter said.
Tuter said Allen drove recklessly into a yard and rammed his squad car. He thought Allen’s truck was a deadly weapon and he also thought he saw him reach for a gun.
“I believed he was armed with a gun and was about to shoot me in the face so I drew my weapon,” he said.
He fired 41 rounds at Allen, shooting him three times. On cross examination, prosecutors brought up the fact that Tuter testified he couldn’t see what was happening as he got out of car because there was too much smoke from Allen’s tires as he revved his truck.
“How did you see Allen reach for an imaginary gun if there was so much smoke?,” Prosecutor Juan Sanchez asked Tuter. He also accused of Tuter of lying by claiming he thought he saw a gun.
Three Garland officers testified they never felt their lives were in danger, and thus they didn’t fire their weapons.
One man who witnessed the shooting and began recording said Mesquite police officers seized his camera and returned it four days later with the footage deleted as we reported at the time of the shooting.
But Mesquite police, who took over the investigator, later said they only seized the camera, downloaded the video, then returned the camera without the video – which is still a violation of his rights, but they claim he gave them written consent, which is many obtained through police intimidation tactics.
At this time, it is not even clear if that video was introduced as evidence, but a prosecutor accused the Mesquite Police Department of conducting a shoddy investigation.
“That’s the shoddiest crummiest investigation. Rest assured, most of the time they’re a better department than that. But they have no problem covering for cops,” said Phillip Hayes, a special prosecutor, according to Fox 4.