No charges for Dallas officers who killed sniper with robot bomb

FILE PHOTO: Micah Xavier Johnson, appears in an undated photo from his Facebook account. Micah X. Johnson/Social media via REUTERS/File Photo (Reuters)

By Chris Kenning

(Reuters) - Dallas police officers who used a bomb-equipped robot to kill a sniper who shot five police officers during a protest in 2016 were not charged by a grand jury, prosecutors said on Wednesday.

Five officers were killed in a July 7, 2016, attack during a demonstration against police violence. Dallas police made the unusual decision to use a bomb mounted on a robot to kill the gunman who was holed up inside a parking garage.

The Dallas County District Attorney’s office said on Wednesday that investigators presented their findings to a grand jury as it does with all officer-involved shootings. The grand jury found the shooting was justified in the circumstances and declined to bring charges, a spokeswoman said.

"Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the families of those who lost their lives that night, the officers who were injured, and all of the men and women who courageously put themselves into harm’s way, all in an effort to protect our community," Prosecutor Faith Johnson said in a statement.

The bomb killed attacker Micah Xavier Johnson, an African-American Army reservist who served in Afghanistan and who investigators said sought to "kill white people" in retribution for police killings of black people.

The assault, the deadliest for law enforcement in the United States since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, took place during a protest over fatal police shootings of two black men in Louisiana and Minnesota. Those deaths fanned public outrage over excessive use of force by police, especially against black men.

Former Dallas Police Chief David Brown, who has since retired, said in 2016 that police had tried unsuccessfully to negotiate an end to an hours-long standoff before sending in a bomb-carrying robot that killed Johnson.

Mike Mata, president of the Dallas Police Association, said more than a dozen officers were involved in the grand jury review because they either fired at the assailant or were involved with the robot.

"Obviously we're very happy that the officers were not indicted," he told Reuters in an interview. "We're glad this is over and officers can move on their careers."

(Reporting by Chris Kenning; Editing by Susan Thomas)