“My son shouldn’t have left here this way, if he was sick or something I could understand it, but for him to be tased to death, beat or whatever it’s not right it’s unimaginable, it hurts and I want something done about it.”
Those were the words Christine Dallas said during a press conference Thursday in response to the death of her son.
With Christine were her family members, Mobile NAACP President Robert Clopton and the attorneys representing Jawan’s family, Harry Daniels and Roderick Van Daniels.
Daniels stated that a “tragedy occurred” and refuted police reports indicating Jawan was an alleged robber. Daniels said that several eye-witnesses saw what occurred and testified that Jawan was an innocent bystander. The attorney also revealed during the press conference that a request was filed for the family to see the bodycam footage due to a new law recently passed by Alabama’s legislature.
The new law, HB289, will allow a deceased individual’s surviving parent or attorney representing the family to make a request to see body-worn or dashboard camera footage of an incident involving the deceased. However, law enforcement agencies still have the option to accept or deny the request to disclose the footage only to that personal representative. The new law goes into effect on September 1.
“If they contest what we’re saying, show the damn tape, simple enough, show the tape,” Daniels said.
Clopton reiterated Daniels’ comment and called for transparency in this process and for the Mobile Police Department to release the video asking, “why not show the video?”
Daniels further contradicted the MPD’s media release of the incident because the attorney mentioned there were three officers at the scene and three suspects. The police press release only indicated there were two responding officers and two suspects. And the individuals who called the police stated that they did not even call about an alleged burglary, Daniels said.
Daniels reiterated the eyewitness accounts of what happened stating that Jawan was nowhere near the scene of the alleged crime and officers beat and then tased Jawan multiple times leading to his death.
APR asked Daniels if it was a coincidence that the police did not specify if Jawan was armed or unarmed in their press release. Daniels said it was not a coincidence because “if he [Jawan] was armed they [MPD] would’ve said he was armed.” And Daniels added that if Jawan was armed MPD likely would have shot him.
Daniels also revealed that they have started the process of notifying the Department of Justice to help investigate what occurred and a lawsuit will be filed.
Phil Williams, Jawan’s stepfather, said that “Jay didn’t deserve to die like this.” Williams spoke to the good character of Jawan and demanded accountability from MPD while chanting, “justice for Jay.”
According to Daniels, two of the officers involved have been placed on administrative leave but none of the officers’ identities are known.
The Mobile Police Department did not respond to a request for comment after APR left a voicemail with their public affairs office.
APR also attempted to get a comment from Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson on Dallas’ death and whether the mayor believes MPD should release the body cam footage due to contradictory accounts of what happened. Instead of getting a response from the mayor Stimpson’s Deputy Director of Communications, Jason Johnson, sent a quote from the city of Mobile’s attorney, Ricardo Woods, which read:
“The City of Mobile’s policy and practice has been to not release or disclose body camera footage or any evidentiary materials related to an active criminal investigation. The incident involving Mr. Jawan Dallas is being independently investigated by the Mobile Police Department, the Mobile County District Attorney’s Office, and the U.S. Department of Justice through the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Once those investigations are completed, we are more than willing to engage Mr. Dallas’ family so that they can review all relevant body camera footage.”
APR asked Johnson if that meant there would be no response from the mayor, and Johnson said “not at this time.” APR followed up and asked if there was a reason the mayor was not commenting but did not receive a response from Johnson at the time of this publication.
According to Woods’ statement, Jawan’s family is unlikely to see body cam footage of what occurred until after all of those investigations are completed. Investigations in these cases often take several months or longer with multiple agencies involved.
“Jay was a great guy, he was awesome,” Christine said. “He helped and loved everybody, all his sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, cousins, homeless people, people in the neighborhood. Jay would give his last dime to help any and everybody. I just want justice for my son because my son shouldn’t have left here this way. “