Lawyer spars with APD over dashcam footage from officer-involved shooting

Accounts of the fatal incident vary between the Department and a civil rights lawyer from Dallas

  • Tavis Crane, 23, mugshot
    A mugshot of Tavis Crane
  • Cpl. Elise Bowden, Arlington Police Department
    Cpl. Elise Bowden, a 14-year veteran with the police department, was struck twice by Crane's vehicle.
  • Ofc. Craig Roper
    Officer Craig Roper reportedly entered Crane's vehicle and discharged his weapon, striking Crane.
The Arlington V...

An area attorney is feuding with the Arlington Police Department over releasing dashcam video footage related to the officer-involved shooting of a 23-year-old man.

A veteran police officer was hospitalized with broken bones and multiple fractures after Tavis Crane, who had been pulled over for a traffic stop, ran over her twice with his vehicle.

The incident happened on Wednesday, Feb. 1. On Feb. 3, Dallas-based lawyer Lee Merritt, whose website says he has represented people on civil rights cases, released a statement suggesting the information released by the police department was inaccurate.

It’s not clear who Merritt represents. Multiple phone calls to his office were not returned by the publishing of this report.

According to police, dashcam video corroborates the Department’s account of the fatal incident.

Crane was asked to exit the vehicle upon discovery that he had a felony arrest warrant out of Dallas for evasion and probation violations. Accounts from both the Department and Merritt state Crane did not comply with the request to exit his vehicle.

But it’s what happened next that’s creating the tension.

According to Merritt, passenger witness accounts suggest Crane was attempting to comply when one officer jumped in the back seat behind the driver’s seat and began shouting commands. Merritt said “shots began to ring out” when Crane “reached over to shut off the car.”

To the contrary, Arlington police said Crane did not comply with the verbal commands and instead accelerated his vehicle in reverse, striking Cpl. Elise Bowden and her police car. He then drove forward, striking Bowden a second time.

It was reportedly during this period of non-compliance that Officer Craig Roper entered the backseat and discharged his weapon. The car eventually came to a stop at the end of the block.

“The authority of law enforcement to use deadly force must be accompanied by the responsibility to be transparent and accountable to the community,” Merritt wrote in a press release.

He further stated the Department has been “callous and dismissive” toward the family. In response, he organized a “sit-in” Thursday afternoon at the police headquarters in Downtown Arlington. It’s not clear how many people attended.

The Department is standing by its original account of the incident, however. In a release doubling down on its statement, spokesperson Sgt. VaNessa Harrison said Department representatives have attempted, without success, to reach Crane’s mother.

“The department has been compassionate in its approach with the family,” Harrison said. “The executive commander over Central Investigations Division continues to seek an opportunity to make direct contact with the family or an authorized legal representative.”

To date, nobody from Crane’s family has contacted the Department to authorize a legal representative to speak on their behalf, according to Harrison’s statement.

The decision to release dashcam footage related to an ongoing investigation is “carefully evaluated and coordinated” with the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s office, Harrison said.

“The narrative published in the original news release by the department at this point in our investigation stands as the correct and true version of events that occurred,” Harrison said.

The release published by Merritt demands the Department release the footage or allow the family to privately view it, and an explain on the policy and tactics used while attempting to arrest Crane.