A police officer in Arlington, Texas, accidentally killed a woman Thursday night as he was firing at a barking dog running toward him, according to local media reports. The officer had been sent to the scene to check on the woman’s welfare.
The woman, 30-year-old Margarita Brooks, had been lying in a grassy area at the time. According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, police said the officer had been dispatched after someone called to report that Brooks was unconscious in a grassy area behind a shopping center. Brooks, who went by the name Maggie, was homeless, the Star-Telegram reported.
The dog was apparently accompanying Brooks at the time the officer approached. According to the Star-Telegram, the officer, who has not been named, called out to Brooks. The dog began barking and ran toward the officer, police said. As the officer backed away from the dog, he fired multiple times toward the animal. Brooks then cried out in apparent pain.
Medics took Brooks to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead less than an hour after the original call to police had been made. The officer’s body camera recorded the encounter and will be reviewed during an investigation of the incident. The officer was not harmed, according to CBS Dallas. The dog’s condition is unknown.
The story marks another high-profile instance of Texas police involvement in the deaths of civilians they were sent to help. On Tuesday, the Dallas Morning News published body camera footage of a 2016 incident that led to the death of an unarmed man who had called 911 for help when he felt frightened (possibly because he was off prescription medication or because of drug use, or both). The footage revealed that the officers held the man for 13 minutes against the ground, even as he cried out in fear. The video appeared to contradict the official police account that the man had been combative, and it showed that the man died while or immediately after being restrained by police. The three officers involved escaped criminal charges and after a suspension were returned to active duty.