Tuesday 20 March 2018

Dallas police chief's own son died in shootout with officers

Police officers keep a close eye on protesters gathering in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Photo: Scott Clause/AP
Police officers keep a close eye on protesters gathering in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Photo: Scott Clause/AP

Nick Allen in Dallas

The massacre of law enforcement officers in Dallas was the latest gun tragedy in the extraordinary life of the city's police chief, David Brown.

Mr Brown (55) lost both his brother and first police partner to gun violence.

Most painfully of all, six years ago his own son shot dead a policeman and was then killed himself by other officers.

Mr Brown is black, grew up in a rough neighbourhood in South Dallas and describes himself as an "inner city kid".

Having seen first-hand the ravages of the crack cocaine epidemic in the early 1980s he became passionate about joining the police force.

In 1988 his first partner, Officer Walter Williams, was investigating a burglary when he was ambushed and fatally shot in the head.

Police Chief David Brown
Police Chief David Brown

Three years later, his younger brother Kelvin was also shot in the head and killed by drug dealers. Mr Brown was devastated by the tragedies but forged on, spending most of the 1990s as a SWAT officer.

In 2010, he was made head of the Dallas Police Department and its 3,600 officers.

Weeks later, on Father's Day, a gunman randomly killed a young father who was driving his family in a car. A police officer rushed to the scene and was also shot and killed.

More police arrived and opened fire, fatally hitting the gunman with 12 bullets.

Incredibly, they then discovered the dead shooter was 27-year-old David Brown Jnr, the chief's son. The young man suffered from bipolar disorder and a post-mortem showed he had been high on drugs, including PCP.

Mr Brown went to visit the families of his son's victims and apologised to them in person.

At the time he said: "It hurts so deeply I cannot adequately express the sadness I feel inside my heart."

He added: "I can't deny that's a part of who I am. The families of victims, I know what they go through."

Meanwhile, around 130 people have been arrested in Baton Rouge as demonstrations continue over shootings by police.

With officers carrying rifles in an effort to keep protesters off a major road, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said he was "very proud" of the law enforcement response to marches over the fatal shooting of a black man by white police officers in the city.

Irish Independent

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