PD spokesman says officers have discretion in determining whether a complainant is too intoxicated to give an offense report
Two Dallas men were attacked by muggers outside a Cedar Springs convenience store this week, and then had to try three times before Dallas police officers would take a report on the offense, one of the men said this week.
Jason Vanhof said he and his boyfriend, Miguel Gutierrez, left a nightclub on Cedar Springs shortly after 1 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 5, and on their way home, stopped by the Valero gas station and convenience store at the corner of Knight Street and Cedar Springs Road to get cigarettes.
Vanhof said he was standing at the night service window buying the cigarettes when another man walked up and stood very close behind him and began verbally harassing him.
"I turned around to tell him to back off and give me some room, and that’s when a bunch of his friends jumped out of their car and started hitting on me," Vanhof said.
He said Gutierrez got out of the car to try and help him, but the muggers turned on him and began to hit and kick both men.
"They kicked me in the head and in the side. I’ve got a black eye, almost swollen shut, and a bunch of knots on my head and a lot of bruises on my side," Vanhof said later Monday.
He said they also stole his wallet containing some cash and credit cards. He said Gutierrez also had numerous bruises on his body and head from the attack.
Vanhof said the attackers ran back to their car and left the scene when they heard police approaching. He said there were about seven or eight African-American men in the group, and that the one who first approached him was short and stocky and wore a white shirt. He said he did not get a good look at the car they were in and was not able to describe it.
Vanhof said the police officer then refused to take an offense report from him and Gutierrez "because, he said, we had been drinking. I told him I had had a few drinks, but that I could tell him what happened."
Vanhof said he and Gutierrez then went back to their house and called police from there. The officer who came to their house was the same one who had responded to the scene of the attack, and he again refused to take the offense report, Vanhof said. In the meantime, he said, the men who had attacked them used his credit card at least twice within the first hour after the assault.
On Monday, Vanhof again contacted police. Two officers came to his house and took the offense report, he said.
Vanhof said he believes police may have had a better chance to apprehend the suspects if the first officer had taken the offense report. But a spokesman with the Dallas Police Media Relations Office said this week officers can, at their own discretion, refuse to take offense reports from complainants who are intoxicated.
"We have to get the true story as to what took place, and that can be difficult if [the complainant] is intoxicated or badly injured at the time," the spokesman said. "So unless there is a corroborating witness available who isn’t intoxicated or injured who can say, ‘This is what actually happened,’ the officer can use his own discretion and choose not to take a report right then. But we will send someone back to take the report later."
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 9, 2009.