Dallas police officer suspended over road rage incident

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by JASON WHITELY and TANYA EISERER / WFAA

WFAA

Posted on February 13, 2014 at 10:17 AM

DALLAS — Edgar Sanchez admits he was afraid.

In fact, he still is.

"I got scared. I said, 'This is a person that got mad; they want to do harm to me; they want to kill me.'"

Sanchez, 30, almost collided with off-duty Dallas police Officer Demont Hickman in the 3900 block of East Jefferson Street in Grand Prairie last July.

The resulting road rage included aggressive actions by Hickman.

"He followed me in his car,” Sanchez said. “I lowered my window. I said, 'I’m sorry,' and the person pointed a gun at me and he followed me."

Hickman was in his personal pickup truck wearing a white T-shirt and dark tactical pants. His badge was on his waist. Sanchez said he didn't know Hickman was a cop until he already was on the ground.

Months after asking, Dallas police officials finally released the Internal Affairs report detailing the July incident. Among other things, it said, "Officer Hickman did not point his weapon at anybody."

But an independent witness told investigators he saw Hickman's gun pointed at Sanchez's head.

"You had it on his head and he wasn't doing anything," the witness said on video he recorded of the incident.

"It seems like training would have dictated to the officer what he should do," said Hector Flores of the League of United Latin American Citizens.

Flores said Officer Hickman overreacted. Grand Prairie did not file charges against the Dallas policeman because Sanchez didn't want to. Grand Prairie Police Department spokesman Lyle Gensler said officers filed "an information report" in the case since Sanchez didn't want to proceed with criminal prosecution at that time. 

"On misdemeanor offenses, like this one appears to be, the victim has two years from the date of the incident to change their minds," he said. "If they call us back within the two years, we can certainly re-open the case and prepare to file it with the district attorney."

A potential charge that could be filed is deadly conduct, a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail, he said.

Still, Dallas conducted its own internal affairs investigation and suspended Hickman for 10 days for getting involved in a disturbance using unnecessary force and profane language.

Flores said that's not enough.

"The punishment faced or the actions that were taken against this officer were a slap on the wrist," he said.

Dallas police Assistant Chief Tom Lawrence, who oversees the city's seven patrol stations, said the internal investigation found that Hickman's response was "inappropriate as well as the use of force that occurred at the scene."

Lawrence said he took into account "the seriousness of the incident into account, the fact that no criminal charges were filed and Officer Hickman's past disciplinary history" and believed that a 10-day suspension was "the appropriate level of discipline to address the behavior and ensure no future incidents." 

Hickman can appeal the suspension.

In 2010, Dallas Senior Cpl. Janice Crowther flashed her gun in a road rage incident in Allen. She faced a reprimand by DPD, but no criminal charges.

Last month in Houston, police charged a Harris County prosecutor with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for doing the same thing to a Tomball man.

WFAA reporter Sebastian Robertson contributed to this story.

E-mail jwhitely@wfaa.com and teiserer@wfaa.com

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