Texas man's shooting by police overshadowed despite momentum

Texas man's shooting by police overshadowed despite momentum
CORRECTS SPELLING OF SOURCE'S FIRST NAME TO SHERLEY, NOT SHIRLEY - This undated photo provided by Sherley Woods, mother of O'Shae Terry, shows Terry. At first glance, the police video of O'Shae Terry's death seemed poised to go viral: A traffic stop over an expired vehicle registration devolved into an Arlington officer opening fire into the moving vehicle, fatally hitting Terry in the driver's seat. Days after the shooting, the Arlington Police Department released body-camera footage of the shooting.(Photo courtesy of Sherley Woods via AP) (Source: AP)

DALLAS (AP) — It was the kind of shooting that had spurred national interest before: A police officer had opened fire into a vehicle, leaving a black man dead.

For residents in the Dallas area, the Sept. 1 killing of 24-year-old O'Shae Terry in Arlington brought to mind the shooting of Jordan Edwards in another Texas city last year. The 15-year-old Edwards and four other black teenagers were in a car and leaving a house party in Balch Springs when a white officer shot into the moving vehicle, killing the high school freshman who was in the front passenger seat.

The officer was fired and, in a rare move, convicted of murder and sentenced to 15 years in prison. The shooting, like Terry's, highlighted a use-of-force tactic that law enforcement experts say is dangerous: firing into a moving vehicle.

Five days after Terry's shooting, police released footage and the case was starting to gain momentum. But hours after the video images of Terry's fatal traffic stop made headlines, attention was already turning to the Sept. 6 shooting of another black man, 26-year-old Botham Jean, a St. Lucia native killed by a white off-duty officer who lived in the same Dallas apartment complex as him.

The shooting resonated with people in a way that Terry's didn't. Jean had not been pulled over by police, but instead was gunned down in his own home by an officer who said she mistook Jean's apartment for her own.

CORRECTS SPELLING OF SOURCE'S FIRST NAME TO SHERLEY, NOT SHIRLEY - This undated photo provided by Sherley Woods, mother of O'Shae Terry, shows Terry. At first glance, the police video of O'Shae Terry's death seemed poised to go viral: A traffic stop over an expired vehicle registration devolved into an Arlington officer opening fire into the moving vehicle, fatally hitting Terry in the driver's seat. Days after the shooting, the Arlington Police Department released body-camera footage of the shooting. (Photo courtesy of Sherley Woods via AP)
CORRECTS SPELLING OF SOURCE'S FIRST NAME TO SHERLEY, NOT SHIRLEY - This undated photo provided by Sherley Woods, mother of O'Shae Terry, shows Terry. At first glance, the police video of O'Shae Terry's death seemed poised to go viral: A traffic stop over an expired vehicle registration devolved into an Arlington officer opening fire into the moving vehicle, fatally hitting Terry in the driver's seat. Days after the shooting, the Arlington Police Department released body-camera footage of the shooting. (Photo courtesy of Sherley Woods via AP) (Source: AP)

To Terry's mother, Sherley Woods, it's hard not to see the similarities in the deaths of her son and Jean.

"It's the same thing — an officer killed someone for no reason," Woods said. "My son's life was taken by an officer for no reason."

In this screenshot taken from Sept. 1, 2018, police body camera video provided by the Arlington Police Department, an officer, foreground, talks to O'Shae Terry after stopping him for a vehicle registration violation, in Arlington, Texas, as a second officer, background left, looks in from the passenger side window. The second officer fired shots when the SUV's window rolled up and the vehicle moved forward after the female officer walked back to her cruiser, leaving Terry dead. Arlington police released video footage of the shooting but have provided few details about the case, including the identity of the officer and whether he's been disciplined. (Arlington Police Department via AP)
In this screenshot taken from Sept. 1, 2018, police body camera video provided by the Arlington Police Department, an officer, foreground, talks to O'Shae Terry after stopping him for a vehicle registration violation, in Arlington, Texas, as a second officer, background left, looks in from the passenger side window. The second officer fired shots when the SUV's window rolled up and the vehicle moved forward after the female officer walked back to her cruiser, leaving Terry dead. Arlington police released video footage of the shooting but have provided few details about the case, including the identity of the officer and whether he's been disciplined. (Arlington Police Department via AP) (Source: AP)

Activist and writer Shaun King said the nation only seems willing to focus on one police shooting story at a time. And in a news climate dominated by coverage of President Donald Trump, he said it's more difficult to attract national interest for stories of police brutality.

"It became really, really difficult to get those stories told," he said, adding that everybody would be talking about Terry's killing had it happened in 2014.

In this screenshot taken from Sept. 1, 2018, police body camera video provided by the Arlington Police Department, a backup officer who came to help another officer on a traffic stop for a vehicle registration violation in Arlington, Texas, fires his gun into a moving vehicle as the SUV's windows roll up and the vehicle moves forward. Arlington police released video footage of the fatal shooting but have provided few details about the case, including the identity of the officer and whether he's been disciplined. Part of screen was digitally altered by the police to obscure the identity of the passenger. (Arlington Police Department via AP)
In this screenshot taken from Sept. 1, 2018, police body camera video provided by the Arlington Police Department, a backup officer who came to help another officer on a traffic stop for a vehicle registration violation in Arlington, Texas, fires his gun into a moving vehicle as the SUV's windows roll up and the vehicle moves forward. Arlington police released video footage of the fatal shooting but have provided few details about the case, including the identity of the officer and whether he's been disciplined. Part of screen was digitally altered by the police to obscure the identity of the passenger. (Arlington Police Department via AP) (Source: AP)

Attorney Lee Merritt, who represents the Terry and Jean families and has handled other police shooting cases, said Jean's death overshadowed the video footage of Terry's killing, but the officers in both shootings should be held accountable.

"At no point did that car represent a danger to (the officer who shot Terry)," Merritt said. He said the Arlington officer should be fired and criminally charged.

In this screenshot taken from Sept. 1, 2018, police dashboard camera video provided by the Arlington Police Department, an officer walks back to her cruiser after stopping O'Shae Terry for a vehicle registration violation in Arlington, Texas. Moments later, a backup officer who's standing at the passenger-side door of Terry's vehicle, fires shots into the SUV after its window rolled up and the vehicle started moving forward. Terry was killed. (Arlington Police Department via AP)
In this screenshot taken from Sept. 1, 2018, police dashboard camera video provided by the Arlington Police Department, an officer walks back to her cruiser after stopping O'Shae Terry for a vehicle registration violation in Arlington, Texas. Moments later, a backup officer who's standing at the passenger-side door of Terry's vehicle, fires shots into the SUV after its window rolled up and the vehicle started moving forward. Terry was killed. (Arlington Police Department via AP) (Source: AP)

William Terrill, an Arizona State University professor who studies use of force, said shooting at a moving vehicle is extremely risky because an officer could miss his target and shoot a bystander, or he could shoot the driver and cause the vehicle to become out of control.

"It's really hard to hit a moving target," Terrill said.

FILE - In this Sept. 16, 2018, file photo, demonstrators march around AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, ahead of an NFL football game between the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants to protest the recent killings of two black men by police. Botham Jean and O'Shae Terry were fatally shot by police in North Texas earlier in the month. The video of Terry being shot to death by an Arlington, Texas, police officer on Sept. 1, 2018, seemed poised to go viral. But just hours after its release, attention quickly turned to the fatal police shooting of Jean in Dallas. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade, File)
FILE - In this Sept. 16, 2018, file photo, demonstrators march around AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, ahead of an NFL football game between the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants to protest the recent killings of two black men by police. Botham Jean and O'Shae Terry were fatally shot by police in North Texas earlier in the month. The video of Terry being shot to death by an Arlington, Texas, police officer on Sept. 1, 2018, seemed poised to go viral. But just hours after its release, attention quickly turned to the fatal police shooting of Jean in Dallas. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade, File) (Source: Brandon Wade)

The police footage, which consists of both body and dashboard camera videos, shows an Arlington officer chatting with Terry and his front-seat passenger after pulling the SUV over for a vehicle registration violation. A second officer, responding as backup, arrives and approaches the passenger-side door. The first officer tells Terry and his passenger that she smells marijuana in their vehicle and needs to search it.

The first officer then heads back to a patrol vehicle. About three minutes later, the SUV's windows start to roll up and the backup officer grabs onto the passenger-side window and tells Terry to stop.

FILE - In this Aug. 29, 2018, file photo, Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson gives a closing argument during the trial of Roy Oliver, who was convicted for the murder of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards, at the Frank Crowley Courts Building in Dallas. For many in the community, O'Shae Terry's death spurred memories of 15-year-old Edwards, who was killed a year earlier by a white police officer who shot into a moving car filled with black teenagers leaving a house party in Balch Springs, Texas. The deaths of Terry and Edwards highlight a use-of-force tactic that law enforcement experts say is dangerous: firing into a moving vehicle. (Rose Baca/The Dallas Morning News via AP, Pool, File)
FILE - In this Aug. 29, 2018, file photo, Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson gives a closing argument during the trial of Roy Oliver, who was convicted for the murder of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards, at the Frank Crowley Courts Building in Dallas. For many in the community, O'Shae Terry's death spurred memories of 15-year-old Edwards, who was killed a year earlier by a white police officer who shot into a moving car filled with black teenagers leaving a house party in Balch Springs, Texas. The deaths of Terry and Edwards highlight a use-of-force tactic that law enforcement experts say is dangerous: firing into a moving vehicle. (Rose Baca/The Dallas Morning News via AP, Pool, File) (Source: Rose Baca)

The SUV moves forward as three shots ring out. As the vehicle continues moving, two more shots are heard.

The officer who initiated the traffic stop did not open fire. Terry's passenger was detained but later released.

FILE - In this Sept. 9, 2018, file photo, Allison Jean raises her hands as she leans on her son Brandt during a prayer service for her son and Brandt's brother Botham Jean at the Dallas West Church of Christ in Dallas. Botham Jean was shot and killed by Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger in his apartment earlier in the week. The video of O'Shae Terry being shot to death by an Arlington, Texas, police officer on Sept. 1, 2018, seemed poised to go viral. But just hours after its release, attention quickly turned to the fatal police shooting of Botham Jean. (Shaban Athuman/The Dallas Morning News via AP, File)
FILE - In this Sept. 9, 2018, file photo, Allison Jean raises her hands as she leans on her son Brandt during a prayer service for her son and Brandt's brother Botham Jean at the Dallas West Church of Christ in Dallas. Botham Jean was shot and killed by Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger in his apartment earlier in the week. The video of O'Shae Terry being shot to death by an Arlington, Texas, police officer on Sept. 1, 2018, seemed poised to go viral. But just hours after its release, attention quickly turned to the fatal police shooting of Botham Jean. (Shaban Athuman/The Dallas Morning News via AP, File) (Source: Shaban Athuman)

Arlington police have not identified the officer who shot Terry except to say that he has been with the department for eight years. A police spokesman, Lt. Christopher Cook, said in a statement Wednesday that the department isn't naming the officer because of concerns for his safety. Cook said the officer's gun and badge have been taken while an internal investigation continues and he's been assigned a role in which he has no contact with the public.

The day after the shooting, police reported finding a handgun, ecstasy pills and more than a pound of marijuana in the SUV. Merritt said the officer who killed Terry was not aware of the gun and drugs when shooting him.

FILE - In this Sept. 13, 2018, file photo, mourners console one another during the public viewing before the funeral of Botham Shem Jean at the Greenville Avenue Church of Christ in Richardson, Texas. Jean was shot and killed by a Dallas police officer in his apartment in Dallas. The video of O'Shae Terry being shot to death by an Arlington, Texas, police officer on Sept. 1, 2018, seemed poised to go viral. But just hours after its release, attention quickly turned to the fatal police shooting of Jean. (Shaban Athuman/The Dallas Morning News via AP, File)
FILE - In this Sept. 13, 2018, file photo, mourners console one another during the public viewing before the funeral of Botham Shem Jean at the Greenville Avenue Church of Christ in Richardson, Texas. Jean was shot and killed by a Dallas police officer in his apartment in Dallas. The video of O'Shae Terry being shot to death by an Arlington, Texas, police officer on Sept. 1, 2018, seemed poised to go viral. But just hours after its release, attention quickly turned to the fatal police shooting of Jean. (Shaban Athuman/The Dallas Morning News via AP, File) (Source: Shaban Athuman)

Terry's mother said her son posed no threat to the officers and the shooting wasn't justified.

"It was wrong. There's no other way you could look at it," Sherley Woods said. She acknowledged Terry had a criminal record but said his past had nothing to do with the shooting.

FILE - In this Sept. 7, 2018, file photo, Dr. Pamela Grayson raises her fist as "Young King" Solomon Grayson, 6, peeks from behind her sign during a Mothers Against Police Brutality candlelight vigil for Botham Jean at the Jack Evans Police Headquarters in Dallas. The video of O'Shae Terry being shot to death by an Arlington, Texas, police officer on Sept. 1, 2018, seemed poised to go viral. But just hours after its release, attention quickly turned to the fatal police shooting of Jean in Dallas. (Shaban Athuman/The Dallas Morning News via AP, File)
FILE - In this Sept. 7, 2018, file photo, Dr. Pamela Grayson raises her fist as "Young King" Solomon Grayson, 6, peeks from behind her sign during a Mothers Against Police Brutality candlelight vigil for Botham Jean at the Jack Evans Police Headquarters in Dallas. The video of O'Shae Terry being shot to death by an Arlington, Texas, police officer on Sept. 1, 2018, seemed poised to go viral. But just hours after its release, attention quickly turned to the fatal police shooting of Jean in Dallas. (Shaban Athuman/The Dallas Morning News via AP, File) (Source: Shaban Athuman)

She said Terry, who was her youngest son, had many positive qualities. She said he was a loving person and spoke of becoming a police officer when he was younger.

Terry enjoyed fixing up cars and would repair his friends' vehicles, his mother said, adding that he was known to pay for the parts himself. He had a job helping supply trucks with diesel fuel, she said.

"His life had value," Woods said, later adding: "I just know I have to get justice for my son."