Denton Police Department

The front entrance of the Denton Police Department.

The Denton Police Department has denied allegations of racial bias after a Facebook user claimed police didn’t care about an assault that occurred Monday because most of the victims are Black.

Denton police responded to a disturbance in the 600 block of Fort Worth Drive regarding a former employee physically fighting with current employees at Taco Bell. A news release issued by the police department Tuesday says the first officer arrived but didn’t see an assault occurring, with three suspects leaving the restaurant.

Israel Harris, the Facebook user who took the video, says in the video that he went to Taco Bell to support his brother because three men went inside to assault current staff, including a pregnant woman. He said the 11 p.m. incident wasn’t the first time one of the suspects had gone to the store that day.

“Some of the police even walked in on the interaction, and the Denton Police Department are saying, ‘Oh well, we can’t take them to jail because [we] don’t have enough proof,’ but a police officer walked in on someone beating them up,” Harris says in the video. “They’re saying they can’t do nothing about it, and they’re saying that my brother shouldn’t be acting the way he’s acting when someone slapped his staff.”

According to the release, the restaurant didn’t provide Denton police with surveillance footage of the incident, and officers told people at the scene they can’t arrest someone for a misdemeanor assault charge when they can’t obtain evidence and victims can’t identify who struck them.

In the video, Harris says his brother’s computer was dead, so he couldn’t show them the surveillance footage. Harris says the officers said they couldn’t help if they continued to “act like that,” referring to an employee not showing footage.

“They let all three dudes go,” he says, adding that a Black officer at the scene told other officers they needed to stop the vehicle the other two suspects were in, but no one made the move to stop them.

Harris continues to repeat in the 16-minute video that the Denton Police Department doesn’t care because the majority of the staff at this Taco Bell are Black.

“It’s ’cause most of his store is African American,” Harris says. “But if it was some Caucasian kids or something like that, oh yeah, they would be on that case like white on rice.”

The news release and Denton Police Chief Frank Dixon said both white and Black officers were at the scene.

“Both parties were Black and white,” Dixon said. “I don’t understand how it can be racial bias.”

Toward the end of the video, Harris says things need to change, referring to policing. This incident occurred as people in the United States are still pushing for change in policing and an end to police brutality following the deaths of George Floyd and others in police custody around the U.S.

The third suspect in Monday’s incident, who was arrested, was stuck on top of a spiked metal fence and had injuries on his chest after trying to get away, according to the report. He was transported to a local hospital for treatment and was later arrested on an outstanding U.S. Marshals Service warrant for possession of a weapon.

The release states he was also charged with four counts of assault, but those were all dropped after a municipal judge determined there wasn’t probable cause for the arrest. The assault charges were aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury, assault causing bodily injury, assault of a pregnant person and assault of a security officer.

The suspect was still in the Denton City Jail late Tuesday afternoon on the outstanding warrant.

The incident is still under investigation, and Dixon said officers again will try to obtain footage of the incident. The news release states officers are trying to determine whether they need to obtain arrest warrants for two other suspects who left the scene and ask that anyone with information call 940-349-8558.

ZAIRA PEREZ can be reached at 940-566-6882 and via Twitter at @zairalperez.

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