Community leaders, police chief discuss Oak Lawn crime in meeting


CEO Cece Cox and Communications and Advocacy Manager Rafael McDonnell of Resource Center listen to reporters during a press conference outside Dallas Police Headquarters after they and other community leaders met with Chief David Brown. (Tammye Nash/Dallas Voice)


DAVID TAFFET  |  Senior Staff Writer

Bobby, the latest reported victim in a string of violent assaults in Oak Lawn stretching back to September, was walking home from The Hidden Door about 2 a.m. on Thursday, May 26, when he was attacked at the corner of Bowser and Prescott.

He said that police and an ambulance responded to his 911 call within minutes — but so did Fox News. Bobby said when he later saw the news station’s report, he was shocked to see video of himself being treated by paramedics in front of his own home — especially since the people who attacked him remain at large.

The news report wasn’t very accurate, either, according to the victim, whose full name is being withheld to protect his safety.

The report that aired said someone jumped out of a passing car, punched Bobby in the face, returned to the car and drove off. Instead, Bobby’s injuries were much more extensive and the circumstances much more similar to earlier attacks in the area.

Bobby told Dallas Voice that he doesn’t remember what he might have told the Fox News reporter at the time, but if they spoke, he said, it happened when he had just regained consciousness and was still dazed.

Now, his recollection of the attack is much more clear.

Bobby said he remembers seeing a car with people it and stopping to make sure he wasn’t walking out in front of a moving vehicle as he crossed the street. “I recall looking over to make sure the reddish-colored, small SUV was completely stopping at the stop sign on Bowser and not turning right towards 7-11 and Chase Bank where I was getting ready to cross Prescott,” he said.

The next thing he remembers is being hit across the face, from behind, with a bat or metal object. He said a doctor confirmed that someone couldn’t have fractured his orbital bone just by hitting him with a fist.

Paramedics treated Bobby at his home and left without taking him to the hospital. An officer then picked Bobby up from his home, and took him to police headquarters to talk to a detective.

Bobby described the officer who drove him downtown as very kind, promising that she was just taking him to police headquarters and that she would then take him home again. But he was disoriented and texted friends at 3:30 a.m., telling them, “I was bashed in face and going to jail.”

He said he has no memory of speaking to a detective, but remembers someone telling him to call friends to take him to the hospital.

According to texts on his phone, two friends picked Bobby up from Dallas Police Headquarters at 5 a.m. and took him to Parkland Hospital. He remembers nothing about the trip to hospital and has only vague memories about what happened there.

“I remember having to walk to the bathroom a few times about five to six doors from my room, in excruciating foot pain,” he said. He also remembers his vital signs being taken repeatedly and getting a CT scan, but not having his foot x-rayed.

“I continued to tell them my foot hurt far worse than my eye or face,” he said.
Bobby said his eye was swollen completely shut and his cheek badly swollen and discolored. In addition, the underside of his left arm remains bruised and scraped, from just above his wrist to just below his elbow, and his wrist is swollen and bruised.

Earlier attacks and police response
A number of the attacks last fall were similar to this one. Only one survivor of an attack recalled a car being involved, but several described being hit from behind with what seemed to be a bat. Several other victims said they only avoided a beating over the head with a bat by curling up and protecting their heads or, in one case, rolling under a car to evade assailants.

Speaking to a group of LGBT community leaders this week, Dallas Police Chief David Brown expressed his frustration that progress hasn’t been made in the investigation into the series of attacks that have been going on since last summer.

“He reiterated what we’ve heard at other community forums,” said Resource Center spokesman Rafael McDonnell. “The biggest frustration is not getting a suspect’s description.”

Brown told the group of seven community leaders that the declining number of DPD officers has also had an impact on this investigation as well as patrols across the city.

“They’ve lost several hundred in the last year,” McDonnell said.

Brown said DPD has a problem retaining officers because DPD officers are paid less than officers at another other Dallas County department.

McDonnell said Brown did try to keep Tuesday’s meeting upbeat and said they’re looking for new and creative ways to keep Oak Lawn’s streets safe. Among the ideas is having bars add a message into their video loops reminding people to not walk alone when leaving.

But after months of continued attacks with no arrests or suspects, the community and Dallas police are frustrated. With this attack mirroring earlier ones, any hope that the rash of violence was over have disappeared.

Resource Center CEO Cece Cox, speaking to reporters after the Tuesday meeting with Brown, said that Oak Lawn “has become dangerous in a way it has not been in decades.” There have been at least 18 attacks reported since the Dallas Pride parade last September, and Resource Center officials have heard of several others that were not reported to police, she said.

Cox also noted that some LGBT people are hesitant to report incidents to police “for a variety of reasons,” including the fact that some are in the closet and do not want to acknowledge publicly that they were in the gayborhood, and the fact that other LGBT people have had bad experiences with police in the past.

Still, Cox said, she does believe that Chief Brown is committed to solving the attacks and working with the LGBT community to improve safety in the area.

In a written statement issued after the meeting, Brown said, “The Dallas Police Department values the LGBT community and is committed to improving communication and working together to enhance public safety. The department takes the role of protecting our entire community seriously. … The meeting was very productive and everyone agreed to work together to continue to grow the trust in the community.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 3, 2016.