NAACP supports police in controversial tasing incident

Angela Luckey, President NAACP Grand Prairie Chapter speaks at a press conference in support of police after a controversial tasing incident. ©Bob Fitch – 2017

At a press conference held today at the Public Safety Building, Angela Luckey, NAACP Grand Prairie Chapter President, announced its support of the Grand Prairie Police officer involved in the controversial tasing on July 31 of Rashaun A. Barnes.

Police Chief Steve Dye speaks about a police controversial tasing incident ©Bob Fitch – 2017

Luckey, along with Barnes and his attorney viewed dash cam video of the incident. Luckey said that although there was no body cam video of the incident, the dash cam video from the officer’s vehicle clearly shows the stop of Barnes was lawful, he lied to the officer about his identity and then fled on foot from the officer.

She added that the injuries Barnes suffered were caused by him falling on the pavement after he was tased by the officer.

When asked why the NAACP came out in support of the police, Luckey said, “It is about what is right.”

The incident began on July 31 when a lone female Grand Prairie Police Officer was actively patrolling her beat when she observed suspicious activity at a strip center. The officer had previous knowledge of narcotics activity in the area and watched the movements of people coming and going from the location for approximately 20 minutes. She noticed Barnes was hanging out in front of one of the vacant suites, walking back and forth, and was occasionally speaking to other people who passed by. As a result of his suspicious nature, the officer’s previous knowledge of illegal activity at this location, as well as her years of experience and training, she lawfully detained Barnes in order to further investigate.

During the officer’s investigation, Barnes provided a fictitious name and date of birth. While the officer was running a routine check on Barnes to confirm his identity, he jumped up from a seated position and evaded the officer on foot. The officer was still alone at this time as her back-up officer had not yet arrived on scene. In accordance departmental policy, the officer utilized her taser to stop Barnes’ flight and make as arrest for the offense of Evading Arrest and/or Detention. This less lethal use of force resulted in Barnes falling and receiving scrapes on his face and arms from landing on the pavement. Paramedics were immediately called to respond to the scene and transported Barnes to the hospital for medical care.

Barnes was found to have two outstanding warrants out of the Grand Prairie Police Department for Public Intoxication and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, and was additionally charged with Evading Arrest and/or Detention and Failure to Identify as a Fugitive.

Police Chief Steve Dye said, “As is standard protocol, these charges were filed at-large on Mr. Barnes’ due to his medical treatment. The charges were filed that same day and arrangements have been made with Mr. Barnes to turn himself in on these charges.”

“A thorough and complete review of this use of force was conducted by the Grand Prairie Police Department and found to be within policy and in accordance with best practices,” Chief Dye said. “Furthermore, I commend the officer for her quick actions in arresting Mr. Barnes before she was injured or had to place herself at greater risk due to Mr. Barnes’ actions. Although Mr. Barnes was injured, we must keep in mind that was only due to his failure to comply with this officer and his conscious decision to run from the officer as a wanted fugitive.”

Chief Dye continued, “Unfortunately, it came to my attention this weekend that Mr. Barnes’ representative, Mr. Lee Merritt, has chosen to post and report to media outlets untruthful information regarding this incident. While I understand there have been incidents of controversial police uses of force across the country, this was not one of them. In our communities, we are blessed to have many great citizens who support their police departments and the fine men and women dedicated to this noble profession. I find it distasteful and unacceptable for our society to any longer tolerate agitators who automatically deem every use of police use of force as inappropriate, prior to a review of the facts. Mr. Merritt has acted irresponsibly, unethically and has been slanderous to the Grand Prairie Police Department and the involved officer. I hope citizens will join me in demanding an apology from him.”

“As Chief of the Grand Prairie Police Department, I will not stand idly by while just and noble police officers are unduly, wrongfully, and erroneously accused of inappropriate behavior. I stand behind my officer and her actions and call upon the public to no longer accept this unwarranted attack on law enforcement – we are not the enemy; we are guardians of democracy. Instead of engaging in rhetoric and inflammatory speech, we should be working together to identify any needed areas of improvement and be commending good work in service to our public. We should not legitimize or condone actions that are only seeking to disrupt the public trust on an unfounded basis for self-serving reasons and grandstanding.” Chief Dye said.

He added, “We will be reviewing all civil options to hold Mr. Merritt accountable for his unwarranted slandering of our officer. This is the type of reckless behavior that unnecessarily incites violence against police officers.”