3 cops indicted in death
Unarmed, high man had called 911; charges are misdemeanors
Three Dallas police officers were indicted Thursday on criminal charges in connection with last year’s death of an unarmed Rockwall man who called 911 for help.
Panicking and high on cocaine, Tony Timpa was dead within an hour of calling police to a seedy stretch of West Mockingbird Lane in August 2016. The responding officers mocked the 32-year-old as he died, with one officer’s knee pinned in his back for more than 14 minutes, according to evidence revealed in a September investigation by The
Dallas Morning News.
Indictments of police officers were once rare, but six cops — including a fired Mesquite officer who was also indicted this week — have been criminally charged this year.
Dallas police Sgt. Kevin Mansell, 48, and Officer Danny Vasquez, 32, were each indicted on one count of misdemeanor deadly conduct by a Dallas County grand jury in connection with Timpa’s death.
The third officer faces the same charge but was not identified because he has yet to surrender to authorities.
Timpa’s mother, Vicki Timpa, told The News she’s pleased the grand jury indicted the officers, though she was puzzled that it was a misdemeanor and not a felony charge.
“They need to go to jail,” she said. “I want them to smell the rust on the bars.”
Timpa said she wants the public to see body camera footage of what happened that night, but officials have refused to release it so far.
Dallas police officials have not said whether the officers have been disciplined and did not respond to a request for comment about the indictments.
Mesquite officer’s case
On Wednesday, former Mesquite Officer Derick Wiley was indicted on a felony charge of aggravated assault by a public servant. Mesquite police fired Wiley last week after an internal affairs investigation into the Nov. 8 shooting of 31-year-old Lyndo Jones.
Several civil rights advocates criticized how the Police Department and the Dallas County district attorney’s office handled the Mesquite investigation.
Attorney Lee Merritt also alleged that officers performed an “anal cavity search” on Jones after the shooting.
Mesquite Chief Charles Cato said that allegation was not accurate, adding that body cameras recorded the incident.
“This generation of police officers is the most documented, recorded, tracked,” Cato said Thursday. “There’s nothing they can do that won’t be seen.” In Timpa’s case, The Dallas
Morning News sought records from the Dallas Police Department related to his death for more than a year. In September,
The News published an investigation documenting discrepancies in official records and the Timpa family’s struggle to get answers about how the man died.
On Aug. 10, 2016, Timpa called 911 asking for help after he panicked in the parking lot of a porn store. He told a dispatcher he feared for his safety, that he suffered from anxiety and schizophrenia and was off his prescription medications.
A private security guard handcuffed Timpa before Dallas officers arrived. Timpa was unarmed, in shorts and barefoot.
Footage from police body cameras shows the officers mocking Timpa as he struggled to breathe, according to a lawsuit filed by Timpa’s family.
Lawsuit filings allege that two of the body camera angles show one of the officers’ knee remained on Timpa’s back for more than 14 minutes, while Timpa repeatedly begged: “Don’t hurt me.”
The officers reportedly remained on top of him after he lost consciousness, and didn’t begin CPR until Timpa had been unresponsive for several minutes. One of the officers is reportedly captured on camera saying: “I hope I didn’t kill him.”
Timpa’s death was ruled a homicide, and the cause was sudden cardiac death due to the toxic effects of cocaine and the stress associated with physical restraint.
On phone with mother
Mansell was on the phone with Timpa’s mother for part of the incident. Court records show Mansell said, “what the [expletive]” after seeing Timpa’s condition.
He is a 27-year veteran of the Dallas Police Department. He was previously suspended for one day for his role in handling a 911 call about D’lisa Kelley, who was later found dead. Mansell was also involved in an off-duty shooting of two teenagers as a rookie.
The third officer was hired by the Dallas Police Department in March 2015, and Vasquez is a four-year veteran of the force.
In the Mesquite case, officers responded to a vehicle break-in call in the 1300 block of South Town East Boulevard. Police officials said Jones ran when officers arrived. He was shot during a struggle and continued to fight until three other officers arrived and handcuffed him.
Wiley, 35, is appealing his termination. He turned himself in to the Tarrant County jail and was released on $300,000 bond Wednesday.
Jones’ attorneys, Merritt and Justin Moore, said he accidentally set off his truck’s alarm and was trying to turn it off when officers arrived.
The attorneys said Wiley shot Jones in the abdomen while the man tried to explain what happened.
Merritt is also representing the family of Jordan Edwards, the 15-year-old who was killed by fired Balch Springs Officer Roy Oliver outside a party in April. Oliver was indicted on a murder charge.
Dallas police Officer Christopher Hess was also indicted this year on an aggravated assault by a public servant charge in the shooting death of 21-year-old Genevive Dawes in January.
Officials said Dawes was driving a stolen car and rammed a patrol car, but a federal wrongful-death lawsuit filed against the city says Dawes bought the car a month before the shooting and was unaware it had been stolen.
Vicki Timpa, whose son Tony died in police custody in August 2016, said she’s pleased the grand jury indicted the three Dallas officers. But she doesn’t understand why they were charged with a misdemeanor, not a felony.
According to evidence revealed in an investigation by The News, officers mocked Tony Timpa as he died, with one officer’s knee pinned in his back for over 14 minutes.