Video evidence was big factor in indictment of Farmers Branch officer
Compelling video of an officer-involved shooting may have been the key to a quick indictment against a Farmers Branch officer.
Officer Michael Dunn shot and killed Juan Moreno, who was driving a stolen truck.
Dunn said Moreno drove toward him, but surveillance video appeared to tell a different story.
“I believe that the evidence, in particular the video that we saw, was very powerful and compelling,” said attorney Russell Wilson, who is not involved in this case.
Wilson believes the video of Dunn shooting into the cab of a stolen pickup truck, killing Moreno, weighed heavily with grand jurors.
Wilson served in the Craig Watkins administration as the chief over investigating officer-involved shootings, and presented those type of cases to grand juries.
[REPORTER: What would be the factors considered before this grand jury, certainly the video tapes. If the officer chose to, would he present a statement or even live testimony?]
“The officer normally would have had an opportunity to testify live,” Wilson said. “The officer declined that opportunity, but if he did testify, any statements he made could be used against him.”
[REPORTER: When you were over the office that investigated officer-involved shootings, did you have live testimony before the grand jury?]
“Yes. There’s not a requirement that you do that, but because of the nature of the situation, I think most people are more comfortable with live testimony,” Wilson added.
Wilson said that the live testimony could include the officers who investigated the shooting, the officer involved, or those who witnessed the shooting.
“You want to try and commit people to the story,” Wilson explained.
Dallas Police Association President Mike Mata, and leaders of some state police organizations, expressed concern that the whole story wasn't presented to the grand jurors.
“I was hoping a fair investigation was going to be given to a grand jury, and it wasn't,” Mata said Thursday.
Moreno's autopsy report and toxicology results were among pieces of information not before the grand jurors when they indicted the 43-year-old officer for murder.
“I think what’s important to keep in mind, the standard for indictment is simply probable cause to believe that an offense has been committed,” Wilson added. “A lot more has to be proven. There’s going to certainly be a lot more focus, particularly here, whether or not there was a justification for the shooting.”
Mata also felt the public would expect every officer-involved shooting to be investigated and handed to a grand jury in eight days.
Wilson said he doesn't think that will be the case, adding that each situation has different sets of facts, and not all cases will have this type of video evidence.