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Lawyer calls for arrest of Dallas paramedic captured on video repeatedly kicking homeless man

Police Chief Eddie García said the department is reviewing the case and won’t make a quick decision because the incident is in the public eye.

The family and lawyer of a homeless man repeated calls Wednesday for Dallas police Chief Eddie García to arrest a paramedic who was captured on video repeatedly kicking the man and urging him to get off the ground.

The family’s lawyer, George Milner III, said the paramedic should be charged with a felony for what the attorney calls an assault with serious bodily injury. Earlier this week, Dallas County District Attorney Creuzot dismissed an assault against a public servant charge against the homeless man, Kyle Vess, after learning of his lifelong struggle with a mental illness similar to schizophrenia. Creuzot said he believes Vess was having a mental health crisis when he encountered Dallas-Fire Rescue paramedic Brad Cox.

Recently published video originally captured by a nearby business surveillance camera shows Cox kicking Vess at least nine times while he was on the ground before police arrived and another time in front of officers. Cox told police Vess had been setting small grass fires while firefighters put out a larger one, an officer’s body camera video shows.

Vess spoke publicly Wednesday for the first time about the August 2019 encounter. His right arm shook as he recalled what happened.

“I’m blessed to be alive,” Vess said. His mother, LaNae Vess, rubbed his back as he spoke. His lawyer, father and sister were on his other side.

Creuzot said he does not intend to bring charges against Cox because the statute of limitations has expired on any crime he might have pursued.

Kyle Vess' mug shot on Aug. 3, 2019, after Dallas Fire-Rescue paramedic Brad Cox repeatedly kicked him while he lay on the ground
Kyle Vess' mug shot on Aug. 3, 2019, after Dallas Fire-Rescue paramedic Brad Cox repeatedly kicked him while he lay on the ground(Dallas County )

Milner said Creuzot should consider charging Cox with a felony called injury to a disabled person. That charge carries a five-year statute of limitations and would allow Cox to still face repercussions from the incident. Milner said Vess’ mental illness qualifies him as a disabled person under Texas law.

“I believe the police chief is acting under the false impression that prosecution is barred by the statute of limitations,” Milner said.

García said he and his top staff are reviewing the case. He said they are too early into the review to predict whether they’ll arrest Cox.

“We understand that there’s a lot of attention on this case but we are going to go with what the facts of the case are and not be influenced from outside pressure,” García said.

Kyle Vess (left), the homeless man who was kicked by Dallas Fire-Rescue paramedic Brad Cox in 2019, described the injuries to his face as his attorney George Milner III (center) and father Kevin Vess listened on Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021, in Dallas. (Juan Figueroa/The Dallas Morning News)
Kyle Vess (left), the homeless man who was kicked by Dallas Fire-Rescue paramedic Brad Cox in 2019, described the injuries to his face as his attorney George Milner III (center) and father Kevin Vess listened on Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021, in Dallas. (Juan Figueroa/The Dallas Morning News)(Juan Figueroa / Staff Photographer)

Dallas Fire-Rescue Chief Dominique Artis has refused to answer questions about Cox, the department’s protocols for handling scenes before police arrive and use-of-force training for paramedics.

Vess’ family filed a lawsuit in August against Cox and the city. Fire department spokesman Jason Evans said the department will not comment while the lawsuit is pending.

Cox’s lawyers have declined to comment. In their response to Vess’ lawsuit, they said Cox believed he was acting in self-defense because Vess was aggressive to him.

Cox was placed on paid administrative leave in September after The News asked questions and the Dallas Observer published police body camera videos showing Cox kicking Vess in front of officers. Cox was still on paid leave this week, Evans said.

Cox’s personnel file shows no indication the fire department reviewed the incident. At the time, Cox was on probation for tampering with a fire department record. Conditions of his probation required him to avoid “injurious or vicious behavior.”

The video footage released by Dallas police shows Cox stomping out a small grass fire near Interstate 30 in West Dallas while Vess sits nearby. At least 30 seconds of crucial footage is missing after that.

Vess said Wednesday that Cox approached him where he sat and kicked his head without saying a word.

A police department public integrity unit investigation concluded Vess charged at Cox first. Cox said Vess punched his face, and officers on the scene wrote in their reports that Cox’s face was red.

After the missing footage, the video shows Vess throwing an object at Cox and missing. Vess said Wednesday he threw a small plastic pipe at Cox after the paramedic kicked him.

Brad Alan Cox has been with Dallas Fire-Rescue since 2002.
Brad Alan Cox has been with Dallas Fire-Rescue since 2002.(Torralva, Krista)

At times, the men disappear behind a fire truck. When they reemerge, Vess is on the ground and Cox continues to kick him even as a firefighter tries to intervene.

Milner argues that Cox’s actions were criminal after Vess was lying on the ground.

Vess said he suffers from a fractured eye socket, cracked teeth, a fractured sinus and partial paralysis on the right side of his face as a result of Cox’s repeated kicks.

Kent Schoonover, a veteran police detective in Wisconsin and consultant on internal affairs investigations, reviewed the case records at the request of The News and offered an expert opinion on Cox’s actions and the ensuing public integrity investigation. Cox should have been charged in 2019, he said.

“There’s absolutely no way you can justify any action like that,” Schoonover said. “Once Vess is down on the ground, anything beyond that is excessive and inexcusable.”

Dallas-Fire Rescue should not have allowed Cox to stay with the department after the incident, he said.

“There is no reason that fire department would want Cox or anybody like him on their department. It gives them a huge black eye,” Schoonover said.

Cox’s personnel file shows he was reprimanded three times after he was hired in 2002 for refusing to provide medical treatment to patients. He was suspended in two of those incidents.

Krista M. Torralva, Staff writer. Krista Torralva first joined The Dallas Morning News as an intern on the business desk in 2013. She returned to The Morning News in 2021 as a reporter covering primarily Dallas County criminal courts. Krista graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington with a major in journalism and a minor in criminal justice.

krista.torralva@dallasnews.com @KMTorralva
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