A Dallas police officer will face aggravated assault charges for firing into a moving car at least 13 times, killing a 21-year-old Genevive Dawes.
According to CBS DFW News, a grand jury indicted Officer Christopher Hess and the 10-year veteran has been placed on administrative leave, Dallas police said in a statement on Friday. He plans on turning himself into the police on Monday.
This is the first time in 43 years that a Dallas Police officer has been indicted for an officer-involved shooting that resulted in death.
While Dawes’ family insists that Hess murdered their loved one, they are still happy to see that he will face criminal charges.
“Just like anyone off the street, they are not exempt from commit a crime just because their police officer. He has to take responsibility for what he did to my daughter,” said Genevive’s mother, Mary Dawes.
The Guardian reported that the charges against Hess stem from a Jan. 18 incident where he and fellow officer Jason Kimpel (who was not indicted) responded to a suspicious person call. When they arrived at the scene, they found Dawes and Virgilio Rosales, her partner, sleeping in a Dodge SUV she had purchased a month ago.
According to civil rights lawsuit papers Dawes’ mother filed against the Dallas police department, unbeknownst to Dawes, the car had been reported stolen, despite the fact that it had been purchased legally. When the police shined their lights into the car, Dawes was startled—unaware that it was the police—and tried to reverse the car. Her car hit another police vehicle that drove into her way.
Dawes slowly reversed her car, which prompted police to shoot into the car hitting the mother of two “four times in the neck, her right tricep, left arm, upper left chest and right forearm,” the Guardian noted. Dawes was taken to the hospital and later died due to her injuries.
There are conflicting accounts that Dawes may have been pregnant at the time of her death, the Houston Chronicle noted. The family’s lawyer Daryl Washington says she was five months along, while Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson claims Dawes was not with child.
Hours after her death, Dallas police claimed that Dawes and Rosales ignored “loud verbal commands” then “started the stolen vehicle and reversed a short distance striking a marked police vehicle.
While the bodycam footage has yet to be released to the public, the grand jury and DA Johnson have seen the videos. But Johnson was mum about its content and whether or not it played a factor in the current charges against Hess.
Washington refutes the police’s version of the incident, calling their actions “egregious.” He also stressed that the car was moving at less than 5mph, did not accelerate and that the evidence shows the officers were not in immediate danger.
“We are happy that there may be some justice in this case because the death of Genevive was definitely preventable,” Washington said.
He added that despite the fact that Hess won’t face murder charges, if found guilty, he still can face a prison sentence between five and 99 years.
On Friday, Dawes’ family members stressed that Dawes was a “goofy and loving woman who would make everyone laugh” and that she was “devoted to her two daughters, Krystinah Rosales, 2 and Cerenity Rosales, 1.”
“I feel like they tried to make my sister look like a criminal, to sweep it under the table to not even try to get justice for her,” said Alisha Garcia, Dawes’ 26-year-old sister.
“She was my only sister. They took her life.”