Shreveport, LA – The Shreveport assistant chief of police is under investigation for allegedly failing to help a lone officer who was trying to subdue a combative suspect.
Instead of assisting the officer, Shreveport Assistant Police Chief Robert Dowell simply watched the scene unfold as he loitered on a nearby sidewalk outside his unmarked patrol vehicle, dashcam footage showed.
The incident occurred on December 10, 2018, after Shreveport Police Sergeant Kevin Strickland received a report of a disorderly man in the 3200-block of Wagner, KTBS reported.
When Sgt. Strickland pulled up at the scene, he quickly encountered a group of individuals outside a residence.
The altercation took place outside of the view of the sergeant’s dashcam, but the audio captured the chaos of the encounter.
“He goin’ crazy,” a woman at the scene told the sergeant, referring to a male in the group who Sgt. Strickland later described as “hostile.”
The man then started to walk towards the sergeant.
“Step back away from me!” Sgt. Strickland ordered.
The suspect tried to head back towards the house – a move the sergeant wanted to prevent in case he was going for a weapon, KTBS reported.
“Sir, don’t walk away!” Sgt. Strickland warned as he drew his Taser. “No…You’re not going toward that house!”
The man screamed inaudibly in response.
Distracted by the chaos, Sgt. Strickland had no idea that Chief Dowell had arrived at the scene.
Not only did the senior officer not rush to his aid, he stood back and watched the melee unfold, KTBS reported.
About a minute into the altercation, Sgt. Strickland deployed his Taser, just as a backup officer pulled up at the scene.
The sergeant deployed his Taser again as the officer raced towards him to help subdue the combative man.
But the backup officer’s dashcam also showed Chief Dowell as he stood by, doing nothing.
The chief casually took a few steps forward as additional units converged on the scene to help their fellow officer wrestle the suspect onto his stomach.
Chief Dowell eventually wandered back to his patrol vehicle, having done nothing to assist the struggling officers.
As he backed away, the officers escorted the suspect to another patrol car.
Once the suspect was secured, the officers began discussing what had occurred. That’s when Sgt. Strickland learned that Chief Dowell was already on-scene when the first backup officer arrived.
“So, he didn’t come up here and help me?” the sergeant asked his fellow officers in disbelief.
Sgt. Strickland said that the next day, Chief Dowell commended him on how he handled the combative suspect. The frustrated sergeant used the opportunity to tell the 40-year department veteran that he was upset he hadn’t come to help him.
"He said, 'Well I saw you had it under control and I had my grandson in the car,'" Sgt. Strickland recounted, according to KTBS.
“If he’s not going to engage, he’s going to get somebody hurt,” the sergeant later told an investigator in a recorded interview. “Himself or somebody else.”
Sgt. Strickland ultimately filed a criminal complaint for malfeasance in office against the senior officer.
Chief Dowell told investigators that the sergeant wasn’t struggling with the suspect, so he didn’t go help him.
“If I would’ve got there now and I saw Strickland in a physical confrontation with this guy, c’mon man. C’mon,” the chief said. “I will lay down my life to protect any police officer of this Shreveport Police Department without hesitation.”
On March 1, Caddo Parish First Assistant District Attorney Laura Fulco declined to file charges against Chief Dowell.
Fulco said that a violation of the malfeasance in office code “requires a refusal or failure to perform any duty lawfully required of a public officer,” and noted that “the lawful duty must be delineated in a specific law or statute.”
But the department’s internal investigation into Chief Dowell’s lack of action is still ongoing, and he could face sanctions if he is found to have violated policy or procedure, KTBS reported.