People in Dallas are calling on police and the public to keep the lines of communication open following a tragic misunderstanding that ended in the deadly shooting of a man by a Dallas police officer.
Pastors from across denominational lines and zip code boundaries are coming together over what they see as an issue of greatest concern in Dallas and across the nation right now.
Cassandra Luster is still in mourning. Seven months ago, her husband, Desmond Luster, was shot and killed by Dallas Police Officer Aaron Tolerton, who was working an off-duty job at the Flying J Truck Stop.
Desmond was on the phone with 911 as he chased burglary suspects from his home.
Tolerton caught one of the teen burglars, saw a blue pickup truck speeding toward them and fired repeatedly.
It’s changed the life of the Luster family.
“We can’t live in this city, this country without the police officers, but we need good policing,” said Donald Parish. Parish was Desmond’s pastor at True Lee Missionary Baptist Church.
Parish and Dallas Area Interfaith are concerned about the Luster case and other officer-involved shootings.
“We need to be addressing systemic concerns, specifically around race and inequality,” said Rev. Aaron White with Dallas Area Interfaith. “We need to make sure that our police officers, the people who serve the public, are trained in a way that makes sure that justice is carried out equally.”
They say police should work to build trust when they aren’t protecting.
“Encourage law enforcement to be more active in the community outside of being on duty,” said White.
The clergy are calling for communities across Dallas to come together and talk.
“As we talk as a community, we gain a greater degree of resolution with regard to what can happen; that’s hope, and then we can take specific steps to help bring about something that’s concrete,” said Pastor Chuck Hubbard with Dallas Area Interfaith.
“We want to do what we can to solve this problem,” said Parish. “We're not here just making noise. We are wanting solutions.”
A community meeting is set for next Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the True Lee Missionary Baptist Church in south Dallas.
Tolerton was fired from the police department for a different incident about a month after the Desmond Luster shooting.
He was terminated for pulling a weapon on his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend.
Both cases will go to the Dallas County civil rights prosecutor and then be presented to a grand jury.
That hasn’t happened with either case yet.