A Dallas grand jury indicted a police officer for aggravated assault in the fatal shooting of 21-year-old Genevive Dawes in her vehicle, the Guardian reports.
The Guardian said Dawes’ mother, Mary Dawes, filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the officers, police department and the city, which accuses the police of excessive force and is separate from the criminal prosecution of the officer.
In January, after receiving a suspicious person report, Officers Christopher Hess and Jason Kimpel came across Dawes, a mother of two, and her partner Virgilio Rosales sleeping in a vehicle near downtown Dallas. Unbeknownst to Dawes, the car that she bought legally was actually stolen.
The lawsuit says that she panicked when the officers came toward the Dodge SUV with flashlights. Unaware of what was going on, Dawes reversed the vehicle but crashed into a police car. Officer Hess and Kimpel fired 13 rounds into the vehicle, hitting Dawes four times. She was transported to Baylor Hospital where she was later pronounced dead.
According to the police version, Dawes was trying to escape. The police, fearing that she would hit an officer, fired at the vehicle, WFAA-TV reported.
The police also said Rosales, a felon, had a weapon, and they arrested him for unlawful possession of a firearm, according to The Guardian. However, the lawsuit points out that the police could not see the weapon when they approached the vehicle.
Daryl Washington, the family’s lawyer, said that although Hess wasn’t charged with murder, he’s glad that some form of justice was served. “We are happy that there may be some justice in this case because the death of Genevive was definitely preventable,” Washington stated, according to The Guardian.
A lack of accountability for law enforcement officers shooting civilians has garnered a lot of media attention and fuels anger in the Black community. A disproportionate number of unarmed people shot by police have been African-Americans.
On June 16, the officer who fatally shot Philando Castile during a traffic stop in Minnesota last year was found not guilty. In April, 15-year-old unarmed Jordan Edwards was fatally shot by a Balch Springs police officer who was later charged with murder, only after there were inconsistencies discovered in the officer’s account.
Hess is on administrative leave while the department investigates the incident.