During Tuesday’s Mobile City Council meeting, officials said officers involved in the death of Jawan Dallas are working in the community after being deemed “not a threat” by the Mobile police chief.
Jawan was killed on July 2 after being stopped and tased by Mobile Police Department officers. Since Jawan’s death, his family has gathered a team of national civil rights lawyers and have demanded transparency and accountability to determine how exactly their loved one died.
Despite Christine Dallas, Jawan’s mother, their family, lawyers and supporters attending nearly every city council meeting since July 2, there continues to be a lack of information. Immediately following Jawan’s death, the Mobile Police Department declined to release the body camera footage and dash cam footage from that night.
Christine has continuously called for transparency and has been denied the ability to see the footage. Now, there is a grand jury trial regarding Jawan’s death that is planned to be set with a date still to be determined. Due to grand jury secrecy laws, key evidence in the trial cannot be disclosed, which in this case entails the body camera footage, officials say.
During Tuesday’s meeting, Jawan’s stepfather, Phil Williams, spoke on behalf of Christine and again demanded transparency and accountability for their son’s death.
“Why can’t we get accountability for our son?” Williams asked. “Why can’t we see the video, why can’t we see the autopsy, why wasn’t we able to identify the body? What’s being hid, if anything is being hid? If anything is not being hid let us see the video. Can y’all imagine, each and every one of y’all in here, if y’all have kids that your kid was murdered by the Mobile Police Department. The ones that are supposed to be here to serve and protect?”
Not only has MPD not been forthcoming with the body camera footage, but they also have not given any information about the status of the officers involved in Jawan’s death. That is until Tuesday. According to Mobile Police Chief Paul Prine, the officers involved in Jawan’s death are in the community working because they were not deemed a “threat” to the community after having seen the evidence.
“In the case with Mr. Dallas those officers are not a threat to the community based on the facts,” Prine said. “Irrespective to emotion and they are back in the field and they are working and they are being productive.”
Prine’s statement about the officers being back in the community led to several audience members expressing audible signs of disapproval or questioning the decision. The community has not been able to deem whether the officers are a threat because no one besides the police have seen the body camera footage nor have the officers still been identified.
APR asked MPD about the identity and status of the officers several weeks ago but was never given a response. Based on Prine’s statement Tuesday, it is not clear how long the officers have been working, and whether they were placed on paid leave.
Mobile Chief of Staff James Barber, the former Mobile Police Chief, also claimed that after reviewing the autopsy evidence the cause of Jawan’s death was not due “directly” to the actions of the police officer.
“Even though I can’t get into detail with it because of the emotions here,” Barber said, “I’m going to say that the cause of death was not attributed directly to the actions of the police officer.”
While the police can make these claims, the family will likely have to wait several more months until the grand jury has ended for the information to be made available to them. The Mobile City Council also intends to send a letter to Mobile County District Attorney Keith Blackwood, asking him to confirm a date that the grand jury will begin and to ask if it trial can begin sooner.