Police body-cam video was released by the Wichita police department that shows an officer firing his pistol at a family dog while also striking a 9-year-old girl with bullet fragments. Officer Dexter Betts was summoned to a home in Kansas on December 30, 2017 after police fielded a 911 call from Danielle Maples, who reported that her husband had threatened to commit suicide and had put a gun to his mouth. Maples and her husband had pushed for the release of the video for months.
On Thursday, Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett released the video to the Wichita Eagle newspaper. Segments of the video were earlier played in court.
Officers found Maples and her husband in the driveway of their home. The husband had his hands up when officers arrived. When Betts entered the home, showed the girl illuminated by Betts' flashlight in the moments before he fired. The video showed Betts and another officer as they approached the home and then entered through the front door with flashlights in hand. Two of the children were standing in front of a television in the living room. The 9-year-old girl was sitting on the floor in front of a couch. After Betts quickly checked a few rooms and hallway, he returned to the living room.
"Ok, we got a dog inside here, too," Betts said on the video. He then shouted "Whoa! Whoa!" while the body-cam pans to show the family’s bull terrier moving on the floor between Betts and the girl. It barks. Betts fired two shots, missing the 40-pound dog. However, one of the two rounds ricocheted off the concrete floor and splashed fragments that struck the girl just above her eye. She had been in the officer’s line of sight and fire, and partially illuminated by his flashlight, when he fired his weapon.
The girl, who had been sitting behind the dog, can be heard to scream, “Ow! Ow! Ow, you hurt my eye! Ow! Ow!” Officer Betts ordered the children to leave and then reported over the police radio that the “dog inside attacked us.” When the shooting took place, Maples and her husband were in the front yard of the home.
After being fired from the force in January, Officer Betts is now facing a felony charge of aggravated battery. Betts has pled not guilty, while his attorneys argue that the dog was attacking him. A trial on that charge is expected in August.
The case against Betts is believed to be the first in at least 20 years in which a Wichita police officer has been charged criminally for an on-duty shooting that resulted in an injury or death. City authorities had previously refused to provide video to local media, claiming that the city was not required by law to release it and that it sought to preserve the injured girl’s privacy.
The city of Wichita previously refused to give a copy of the video to The Eagle, saying it is not required by law to do so and that releasing it would violate the girl's privacy.
District Attorney Bennett has argued that Betts acted recklessly and without regard for the girl’s life because the dog was so close to the girl and he did not have a clear background when he discharged his pistol.
A LinkedIn profile in the name of “Dexter B.” of Wichita, Kansas, claims experience as a Geospatial Intelligence Analyst in the Army National Guard in the Oklahoma City area, as well as service in the U.S. Army (2009-2015), specializing in the handling of biological, chemical and nuclear materiel with an “Active Top Secret-SCI Security Clearance” and a BA from American Military University. Experience as a Criminal Investigative Analyst with the Counterdrug Task Force of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol is also claimed, in addition to working on the Wichita police force, Jan. 2017 to Jan. 2018. The bio notes that he is also a member of the NAACP.