Probe Opens Into Death of Local Man
By Patrick Buchnowski
Kin: Dallas police at fault
Two Dallas police officers are at the center of an investigation into the homicide of a former Johnstown man.
Allen Simpson, 23, died Dec. 29 at Baylor University Medical Center from asphyxia caused by a neck compression during a struggle with police
His death has angered family and community groups who are calling for an investigation and charges against the officers.
“They put him in some kind of choke hold,” Simpson’s aunt, Karen Stewart, said in a telephone interview from Dallas. “We’re very outraged about what happened to him.”
Simpson, who moved from johnstown when he was in the eight grade, appeared to pass out while struggling with police after a car and foot chase in a South Dallas neighborhood known for drug trafficking, The Dallas Morning News reported.
Simpson had a criminal record that included several drug charges, the story said.
Simpson’s family has hired a law firm specializing in investigating more violent civil rights cases.
“Our investigation is simple,” attorney Jim Skinner said in a telephone interview from Dallas.
“one officer strangled Allen Simpson while a second police officer stood over him striking him,” Skinner said. “This is a real tragedy.”
Simpson is believed to be the 10th person to die in Dallas police custody in two years, Skinner said.
Dallas police officers said they could not confirm that number.
Police have asked Texas Rangers, the investigative unit of the state Department of Public Safety, to probe Simpson’s death, police Lt. Anthony Williams said in a telephone interview from Dallas.
“The medical examiner ruled this a homicide,” Williams said. “We’ve brought them in to make sure we have all our bases covered.”
The two officers have been reassigned from field duties, he added.
Johnstown resident Gersilee Thompson said she remembers her grandson as a carefree youth who attended Greater Johnstown Middle School.
He also had four small children of his own.
“He loved those children,” Thompson said in an interview from her apartment at Coopersdale Homes in the Coopersdale section of Johnstown.
“He said, ‘Grandma, I’m going to send you a picture of me and my children,'” she said, showing a color photo. “He would have been 24 on March 17.”
Activists in Dallas are calling for the two officers to be indited. The district attorney is gathering evidence to present to a grand jury for possible indictment, Skinner said.
The attorney said he is planning a wrongful death lawsuit against the police.
Simpson had recently rededicated his life to the church and was starting a promotion and marketing company for recording artists, Stewart said.