Collette FlanaganPhone: 214-989-8888
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DALLAS, TEXAS, JULY 30, 2014 –
“We are releasing this autopsy because the police department is holding back evidence in the deadly shooting of Jason Harrison, a 38-year-old mentally ill man,” said Collette Flanagan, founder of MAPB. “Jason’s relatives, and the people of Dallas, have a right to know the truth.”
On the morning of June 14, 2014, Shirley Marshall called the Dallas Police Department for assistance with her son, Jason Harrison. Her son, 38, had a long history of mental illness. The police had come at least 19 times over the years to take Jason to Parkland for treatment and to get his medications re-started. When two officers arrived that Saturday, Mrs. Marshall walked onto her porch. Jason followed her out. Moments later, Jason was dead, shot fatally at least 5 times by officers John Rogers and Andrew Hutchins.
Two weeks later, Rogers and Hutchins were back on patrol, even though the investigation was reportedly still in progress. Of the two body cameras, one was said to malfunction; tape from the other camera has not been released. Until today, the autopsy had been kept secret.
The autopsy report, signed by ten medical examiners, including Jeffrey Barnard, Director and Chief Medical Examiner, and Reade Quinton, Chief Deputy Medical Examiner, describes 6 gunshot wounds.
The detailed report suggests that wound #2 and wound #4 may have been from the same bullet: “Given the fact that there are only five shots reported at the scene, and given the irregular nature of the entrance wound of gunshot wound #2, it is possible that the projectile from gunshot wound #4 re-enters the body as gunshot wound #2” (Autopsy report, p. 3).
Projectiles (“jacket” and/or “lead core”) were recovered at the scene from 3 of the wounds, according to the autopsy report, wounds #2, #5, and #6.
“There is no soot or stippling,” according to the report, on any of the wounds (p. 2, 3, and 4). This absence of traces of soot and stippling indicates that the shots were fired at a distance of greater than 30 inches. This is a significant finding as the officers claimed they were threatened by Jason with a screwdriver, presumably at close quarters.
“Did the officers fear for their safety, as they claim, after the first shot that went through Jason’s left chest and exited his back?” asked John Fullinwider, a member of MAPB. “Did they fear for their safety after the second shot into the right side of Jason’s chest? According to the autopsy, after this bullet perforates the right side of the chest, the projectile perforates the underlying musculature, peritoneal cavity, and passes directly above the bladder, entering the left side of the pelvis within the pelvic gutter. (See p. 2.) Did they fear for their safety after the third bullet? After perforating the skin and subcutaneous tissues of the right side of the chest, the projectile subsequently perforates the right fifth intercostal space laterally, middle lobe of the right lung, upper lobe of the left lung, left sixth intercostal space laterally, and exits the lateral left side of the chest. (See p. 4.) Is Jason still threatening these officers? Did they still fear for their safety from the man supposedly holding a screwdriver? Is that why Jason is then shot twice in the back?”
The homicide of Jason Harrison is not simply a police personnel matter, one that can be swept away with an incomplete investigation and a return to patrol of the killers. The homicide of Jason Harrison raises important questions about the quality and independence of departmental investigations of police violence; about the training of officers in the treatment of mentally ill persons; and about the misuse of deadly force against unarmed or mentally ill suspects.
“The death of Jason Harrison was preventable,” said Mrs. Flanagan. “The two shots in the back, by themselves, indicate that something went terribly wrong on that fateful Saturday. It did not have to happen. A mother, Jason’s mother, called Dallas Police for help and within minutes of their arrival, her son lay dead in a pool of blood on the sidewalk. Jason’s blood, the blood of Shirley Marshall’s son, the blood of our brother, cries out from the very ground for justice. “
Mothers Against Police Brutality demands that Rogers and Hutchins be returned to administrative leave, pending final review of this case by the grand jury; that their weapons be confiscated; that the findings to date in the investigation of Jason Harrison’s killing be made public; and that the video taken at the site, along with all statements of the officers involved, be released to the public.
To Request photos of Jason Harrison’s body please email Mothers Against Police Brutality.