Dallas County DA candidates questioned about prosecuting police shootings

UPDATE 9/19/18: In our story, we reported that the Democratic candidate for District Attorney, John Cruzeot, criticized incumbent Republican District Attorney Faith Johnson for her handling of the Botham Jean shooting, including the release of the results of the return on the search warrant on Botham Jean’s apartment. We want to clarify, that the District Attorney did NOT release the results of the return on the search warrant. That document is public record, and it cannot be sealed.  

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The topic of police shootings dominated Monday's forum for Dallas County district attorney candidates.

Republican incumbent Faith Johnson and Democrat challenger Judge John Creuzot explained their stance on prosecuting officer-involved shootings. The recent deadly shooting of Botham Jean by off-duty Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger was discussed at length.

Jean's family and activists have said Guyger should be charged with murder. The Texas Rangers charged her instead with manslaughter.

Moments before the meet the candidates event in Fair Park, Dallas County DA Faith Johnson released a statement about the Botham Jean case. She urged people to have faith and patience in the process, stating that the DA's office is now lead on the case and there is no timetable to impanel a grand jury.

The first question asked of the two candidates was about their approach to deadly killings by police officers.

Johnson responded immediately with a name: Roy Oliver, the Balch Springs police officer convicted of murdering Jordan Edwards.

"I will not tolerate anybody who's going to break the law, and that includes police officers. For the first time in history, in 45 years, a police officer has been convicted of murder, not manslaughter. Murder. In Dallas. And people all over the world are rejoicing with us,” Johnson said. “They couldn't get that conviction in New York. They couldn't get it in California. They couldn't get it in Ohio. They couldn't get it in Florida. They got it right here in Dallas County."

Johnson, the Republican incumbent, continued to tout that guilty verdict, saying it is her job to make sure that justice is equal for everyone. She says she knows there is a negative image of not just her office, but of law enforcement, in general.

Judge John Creuzot, Johnson’s Democratic opponent, responded to the same question about police killings.

"If the Constitution is good for you and me, it ought to be good for the police. Don't you think?" she said.

Creuzot referred people to statements he's made about the Botham Jean killing on his Facebook page, in which he suggests that Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger is benefitting from leniency as she is charged with manslaughter and not murder. He went on to criticize how his opponent, DA Faith Johnson, has handled the case thus far, including the release of the results of a search warrant on Botham Jean's apartment.

“She just got through telling you that that thing would be sealed for 30 days, but it wasn't. But it wasn't. It was released immediately,” he said. “And your premise about denigrating the victim is correct. I don't really know what's going on in somebody's mind. But when you read the way the affidavit or arrest warrant was written and you look at, as my friends have said, it looked like a defense lawyer wrote it."

The DA did not address whether her office attempted to seal the search warrant evidence. Johnson told people at the event that vigorous prosecution will take place.

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