Two Dallas police officers who shot and killed a mentally ill man holding a screwdriver last year will not be indicted, a grand jury decided on Thursday.
Officers John Rogers and Andrew Hutchins shot Jason Harrison, 38, who suffered from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, after they ordered him to drop the screwdriver he was holding, according to the Dallas Morning News.
The grand jury decision means the officers will not be face criminal prosecution but they may be found liable in a civil action.
“The family is obviously severely disappointed,” attorney Geoff Henley told the Dallas Morning News.Henley is representing Harrison’s family in a federal civil-rights lawsuit filed in October. “But this isn’t going to affect our case. We’ll continue to move forward.”
The grand jury decision comes as police across the country have come under increasing scrutiny for using deadly force, after high profile killings of unarmed black men in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City. In Ferguson, a grand jury did not indict Officer Darren Wilson for the fatal shooting of Michael Brown. In New York, Officer Daniel Panteleo was not indicted for the chokehold death of Eric Garner. The most recent case involves the death of Freddie Gray under mysterious circumstances in a Baltimore Police Department van.
The Dallas shooting was captured on a police body camera and released by Harrison’s family in March. The video showed “the confrontation escalate within seconds,” according to the Morning News.
A Dallas Police spokesman said when the video was released that the officers feared for their lives.
Harrison’s mother called police on June 14, 2014, to ask them to help her son who was suffering a mental crisis, according to the Morning News.
In the video, she opens the door to the awaiting officers and he appears behind her twiddling a screwdriver. The officers immediately order him to drop the tool and within seconds fire several shots, killing Harrison.
Harrison’s family filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city and the two officers, arguing that he did not pose a threat, according to the complaint.