The Arlington, Tx., Police Department released this week the body cam footage from a recent incident in which an officer accidentally shot and killed a woman while trying to shoot her dog.
The 25-year-old officer, who had completed his field training only months before, had been dispatched to find a woman who was reportedly suffering from a medical emergency. He accidentally shot and killed 30-year-old Margarita Brooks after her dog began to run and bark at him.
“Our hearts are broken for the Brooks family and the police officer involved,” Arlington Police Chief Will Johnson said during a press conference. “Everything about this call is an absolute tragedy. Clearly this is not the outcome the officer wanted, nor is it the outcome our department wanted.”
“Ms. Brooks was never the intended target of the officer’s use of force, but we know as police officers that we are accountable for our actions.”
An unidentified caller reported a female passed out in a grassy area behind a local business on Cantor Drive, Johnson explained.
“Hello? Are you ok? Is that your dog? Can you get him…” the officer asks the woman in the body cam footage.
The dog, a 40-pound Lab mix, begins to bark and run at the officer. The officer shouts, “Get back!” while retreating and pulling his sidearm. He fires three shots at the dog, who immediately turns and runs in the opposite direction. The dog was uninjured, but one of the officer’s shots hit Brooks in the chest. The officer assisted with first aid until EMS personnel arrived, but Brooks died at the hospital later that day.
The Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled her cause of death a homicide, according to CBS DFW.
The officer has been placed on administrative leave pending criminal and administrative investigations.
Brooks, her dog, and her boyfriend were regular visitors to that section of town, and the dog had never before shown signs of aggression.
“It was never on a leash,” local store owner Justin Patton told CBS DFW. “We saw that couple every single day with that dog. It would follow ’em out to the tree, up to the Walmart. It would interact with people, just sniff, tail wag and stuff. It was never on a leash. It was around people all day.”
Brooks was the mother of two boys, though she had fallen on hard times in recent years, her estranged husband, Steven Smith, told NBC DFW.
“She had her struggles, but she was a good mother and she loved those boys and her face would light up when she talked about them,” Smith said.
Smith told reporters that he thinks the officer should be held accountable for his actions, but he doesn’t believe he acted with malicious intent.
“He didn’t wake up that morning thinking that that was going to go that way for him either,” Smith said. “We can sit here and say he could’ve done this, he should’ve done that, but at the end of the day the man has to live with it… Her life was taken from her and sending a man to jail isn’t going to bring her back.”