DALLAS (AP) — The suspect in the shooting death of a state trooper during a Thanksgiving Day traffic stop in East Texas was charged Friday with capital murder of a law enforcement officer.
Dabrett Black, 32, was being held in the Brazos County jail in Bryan, Texas, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) northwest of Houston. He is accused of fatally shooting Trooper Damon Allen on Thursday.
The Texas Department of Public Safety said in social media posts late Thursday that Allen initiated a traffic stop shortly before 4 p.m. on Interstate 45 near Fairfield, about 90 miles (145 kilometers) south of Dallas. DPS said Black shot Allen with a rifle after the trooper walked back to his vehicle.
Allen died at the scene, DPS officials said, adding that he had been with the department since 2002. An obituary posted Friday by the funeral home said Allen is survived by his wife Kasey, three daughters and a son.
DPS said Black, of Lindale, Texas, fled the scene in a car and was spotted about three hours later more than 100 miles (160 kilometers) south of Fairfield, in Waller County. The Waller County Sheriff’s Office posted on Facebook that deputies were attempting to take Black into custody when shots were fired. It was not clear from the statement who opened fire.
Black fled on foot and was taken into custody after a police dog found him in a nearby field. He had been hiding among hay bales, authorities said. He was treated for injuries that weren’t life-threatening.
“Our DPS family is heartbroken tonight after one of Texas’ finest law enforcement officers was killed in the line of duty,” DPS Director Steven McCraw said. “Trooper Allen’s dedication to duty, and his bravery and selfless sacrifice on this Thanksgiving Day, will never be forgotten.”
Allen was the second Texas trooper to be killed while on duty this month and the first trooper in the state to be shot in the line of duty since 2008. Trooper Thomas Nipper was struck and killed by a vehicle during a traffic stop on Interstate 35 earlier this month.
Court and jail records show Black has a history of evading arrest and violent run-ins with law enforcement officers.
A magistrate judge who heard official charges against Black declined to hold a bond hearing Friday. Black will likely be transferred to one of the three counties where there are open charges against him. Jail officials said a bond hearing on the capital murder charge would likely have to happen in Freestone County, where the charge originated.
Smith County court records show Black was indicted last month after he led police on a chase and rammed his car into a police cruiser in July. Court records show he was charged with aggravated assault of a public servant and evading arrest or detention with a vehicle. Brazos County jail records show that he was out on bond on those charges and that the bond had been recalled as insufficient due to the new charges.
Black was charged in 2015 with assault on a public servant and attempting to take a weapon from an officer, according to Smith County court records. Those charges were dismissed in 2016, but the records didn’t explain why.
Brazos County jail records also show Black was facing a charge of evading arrest with a vehicle in Anderson County, east of where the shooting occurred Thursday. Details of the charge, including the date of the alleged offense, were unclear from those records that said his bond had been forfeited. A call to Anderson County court officials was not immediately returned Friday.
A call to a court-appointed attorney representing Black in the Smith County charges was also not immediately returned Friday. It was unclear from Brazos County records whether Black has an attorney representing him in the capital murder case.
Several Texas officials reacted to Allen’s death. In a tweet Thursday, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz offered “prayers for the family and loved ones” of the trooper.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called the fatal shooting of Allen a “heinous crime” in a statement Thursday. Abbott also expressed his “most sincere condolences” to the trooper’s family.
Allen’s body was taken to the Dallas County medical examiner’s office late Thursday night. A DPS spokesman said law enforcement officers on Friday escorted Allen’s body to a funeral home in Teague, Texas.
A funeral is planned Dec. 1 in Mexia, Texas.
By CLAUDIA LAUER
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