Uploaded on Nov 11, 2011
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Bryan Texas - Five months ago the lives of two families changed forever. In an instant, the world of Officer William Cross and Johnnie Harris Jr were turned upside down.
A routine police call turned into a months long investigation. Two men shot, an officer resigned and a community left in the ripple of gunshots trying to understand.
"I kept begging him to get in the car. And he tried to get in the car and he pulled his gun and that's -- he shot him," recalls Janice Walton.
She saw what no mother should; a police officer shooting her son in the middle of the street.
It was that May day when Officer Cross responded to the report of a suspicious person. Cross found Johnnie Harris at the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Street and Main.
In newly released dash cam video obtained by News 3, you see two views that show part of how the events unfolded in shocking detail.
"You can see he never once reached for his weapon," says Walton, watching the dash cam video for the first time.
Bryan Police disagree.
Officer Cross said repeatedly the Johnnie Harris reached for his weapon. The video is inconclusive.
You hear Officer Cross say "I'll shoot you."
Officer Cross pulls what looks to be a taser and fires at Johnnie as he runs away.
We showed the video to Johnnie's mother and grandmother. Both were feet away when Officer Cross then pulled his pistol and opened fire. In fact, you can clearly see the family get out of their car in the rear camera.
Johnnie and a nearby construction worker were both shot. That's what you don't see on the dash cam video. But what you do see has community leaders upset.
"I don't know what the grand jury was thinking and I'm praying they saw this video," says Ebbs, "but if they saw this video and they failed to indict Officer Cross then something's wrong with them. "
"The general rule is an officer shouldn't draw his or her weapon unless he or she is prepared to use it," says Phillip Lyons.
Lyons teaches police behavior at Sam Houston State University. His years as an officer and detective with the City of Alvin give him an insight into both how officers are trained and how they should react.
"I think the video simply raises more questions than it answers. I certainly saw nothing in the video that would strike me as clearly inappropriate."
Lyons says there are a few things in the video he says Officer Cross did right. He approached Harris in the right way and had the presence of mind to call for immediate medical assistance after the shooting took place.
So we showed this video to former Brazos County Prosecutor Shane Phelps. The video clearly startles him.
"I mean, it's troubling because you've got, what, seven shots fired?" asks Phelps.
"I mean there are so many things, there's the medical aspect of it, the crime scene investigation of it, testimony from officers, whether policies were followed, you've got video evidence here everything has to come together," continues Phelps.
In his ten years with the Brazos County District Attorney's Office, Phleps will tell you that no case is 100 percent, even with troubling video.
"The worst thing you can do in a situation like this is not do what you're told, struggle at all, or fail to comply," says Phelps.
A Brazos County Grand Jury did hear this case. Cross was no billed.
He would later resign from the Bryan Police Department before he could receive his formal reprimand.
Even though Officer Cross wasn't indicted, and resigned from the Bryan Police Department, it does not mean this case is closed.
At any point, the Brazos County District Attorney's office can present the case, or a new Grand Jury can ask to hear the case or witnesses again.
Cross did write a letter of thanks to the Texas Municipal Police Association for their help during the Bryan Police Internal Investigation. The TMPA provides legal support and representation to officers.
In that letter Cross writes, "I thought it was odd that I had never been contacted by anyone in my chain of command..."
He continues,"I guess that if you look at the win-loose column it might appear that the city won the battle but the Cross household won the war."
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