Police Officer Makes Deadly Mistake
(TX) – It started as a stabbing at a convenience store. Police officers were called and the suspect was identified as 32-year old Michael Lee Ross Jr. Mr. Ross was an army veteran who had been honorably discharged. He was known to Forest Hill police as someone who suffered from mental health issues. In June, those issues turned into a mental health emergency. It’s unknown why Ross attacked and stabbed the woman.
A sergeant and an officer found Ross in a creek. At one point Ross was on the south bank of the creek with the officers on the north bank. At other times Ross was down in the creek. Bodycam video shows the sergeant repeatedly telling Ross to drop the knife while Ross paces back and forth. The sergeant uses his less-lethal shotgun to shoot Ross four times. Ross is stunned but still does not drop the knife. The sergeant fires his last shot without getting Ross to drop the knife.
The sergeant told Barr to get his less-lethal shotgun, which has a bright orange stock, according to the warrant. Body camera footage showed Barr getting a black shotgun from his police vehicle, the warrant said.
When Barr radioed to his sergeant that his shotgun was deployed, the sergeant told him, “Shoot him.”
Officer Logan Andrew Barr shot Ross twice, killing him. The sergeant, who has not been identified, shot and killed Ross’s service dog.
The Forest Hill Police Department would have conducted their own internal affairs investigation, but the criminal investigation was conducted by the Texas Rangers. According to WFAA.com, “Barr asked the sergeant, ‘Do I need to get the casings from the lethal shotgun?'” That’s very disturbing. Is Officer Barr so young and inexperienced that he doesn’t even know he’s asking to disturb evidence in a crime scene? Or did he hope his sergeant would approve of him trying to cover-up what happened?
The Forest Hill Police Department said that Ross was trying to stab himself. I’ve never understood the mentality of someone trying to hurt themselves so officers kill them instead to make them stop. However, it sounds like this is the justification for the shooting that the Forest Hill Police Department was trying to imply.
But the Ranger disputed the department’s version of events.
“While watching the video, I did not observe Ross attempting to stab himself, make any verbal threats, raise the knife in a threatening manner toward the officers, attempt to climb the embankment … or make an effort to run,” the Ranger wrote. “Ross did not pose a reasonable and immediate threat.”
Where did the police department get that information that Ross was trying to stab himself? Was it in the officer’s report? Did both the officer and the sergeant write that? If so, is anything being done about the sergeant falsifying a report?
Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon
Officer Logan Andrew Barr is only 23 years old. This kid has needlessly taken the life of a man and now faces significant time behind bars. A warrant was issued with the charge listed on the warrant being aggravated assault with a deadly weapon by a public servant. That charge is a first degree felony in Texas. Barr was booked and released from the Tarrant County jail all within a few hours.
The family of Michael Lee Ross was not given the courtesy of being informed that Barr had been charged, arrested, and bonded out. They found out through Facebook.
It does appear that Ross was the person who stabbed the woman and the woman did die. He needed to be taken into custody. But when the officers encountered him, Ross did not make any aggressive moves toward them. There was no justification to resort to lethal force. Did Officer Barr hear his sergeant say to get the less-lethal shotgun? Did he just make a mistake and grab the wrong one? Or did Officer Barr ignore his sergeant’s instructions and intentionally grab the lethal gun?
He will probably be given the benefit of the doubt and it will be treated as accidental, but some will always wonder. What we won’t wonder about is whether this was a wrongful death. It was. Ross was 15 – 20 feet away from the officers, down an embankment and in a creek. He did not make any aggressive moves toward the officers. He did not even raise the knife. I expect the family to file a wrongful death lawsuit and I expect them to win.