A Texas grand jury indicted a suburban Dallas police officer Wednesday on a charge of criminally negligent homicide for fatally shooting a black man during a traffic stop last year.
The Tarrant County grand jury indicted Arlington Officer Bau Tran eight months after he shot 24-year-old O’Shae Terry in the Dallas suburb.
The indictment marks a rare criminal prosecution of a police officer in the historically conservative North Texas county. It could draw greater attention to a case that was largely overshadowed by another in the same month in which a white Dallas police officer fatally shot a black man in his own apartment.
Tran shot Terry on Sept. 1 after another officer pulled the Forest Hill resident over on a registration violation. After talking for several minutes, body camera footage shows Tran grabbing the passenger-side window of the SUV Terry was driving as it begins to roll up. The officer stepped on to the vehicle’s running board as it started to move, pointed his gun into the SUV and fired multiple shots. Terry later died at a hospital.
Lee Merritt, an attorney for Terry’s estate, said the indictment was “a huge relief” for his family but also less than they had hoped for. “We are certainly happy that there will be a chance for some form of justice in this case,” Merritt told The Associated Press. “But if anyone else had done this it would have been murder.”
Criminally negligent homicide is a felony and a conviction can lead to a sentence of 180 days to two years in state jail.
Tran was placed on restricted duty following the shooting. He was put on leave Wednesday until the administrative investigation into the incident is finished in the coming weeks, said Arlington Lt. Christopher Cook.
Tran’s attorney, Randall Moore, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Moore has maintained that his client’s actions were legal and taken to protect the public.