Update: Updated at 8:36 p.m. with additional information.
Update: Updated at 8:36 p.m. with additional information.
Dallas police Chief Eddie García on Thursday fired two officers who were arrested in connection with separate charges of displaying a firearm in an alarming manner and driving while intoxicated.
The officer who faces the firearm charge, John Rozell, was recommended in the past for termination after allegations that he assaulted a woman — but instead got a suspension, according to police records obtained by The Dallas Morning News. Former Dallas police Chief U. Reneé Hall was in charge at the time.
Rozell declined to comment when reached by phone Friday. He was terminated by García for the firearm charge and other departmental violations, according to an email sent internally to police employees. The second officer, Sr. Cpl. Ja’Qualyn Mitchell, was fired in connection with the DWI charge.
Attorney Robert Rogers, who represents both officers in the administrative matters, said they intend to appeal the discipline. García declined to elaborate on his disciplinary decisions.
“When we’re right, regardless of the outside noise, we’re right,” the chief said. “But when we are wrong, we will hold ourselves accountable.”
Rozell was detained by Lancaster police in July on a charge of disorderly conduct by displaying a firearm in public. Rozell was in an argument with another man in a parking lot when he went to his car, grabbed an AR-15-style rifle and approached the other man while displaying the weapon, police said. A witness called 911.
That case is pending, according to court records.
Rozell also violated policy for failing to secure police equipment in an unoccupied personal vehicle and being intoxicated in public view, according to the email sent to Dallas police employees. He had been with Dallas police since April 2013 and was assigned to the South Central Patrol Division.
In April 2020, Rozell was also arrested in Lancaster on charges of assault by strangulation and unlawful restraint. A grand jury declined to indict him on the assault charge. He pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct for the other case and was given three months of deferred adjudication probation, according to court records. The case was dismissed after he completed his probation.
The charges were brought after Rozell, while off-duty, handcuffed a woman who was trying to leave his car as he drove on the freeway, according to internal police records obtained by The News. The woman asked him to release her multiple times, then slapped him twice after he stopped the car at her home and took off the handcuffs, the records say.
Rozell grabbed her neck, “pushed her down and restricted her breathing for approximately 45 seconds,” the records say. The woman told investigators he pushed her down into bushes and she couldn’t breathe, police wrote in the records. Lancaster police had photos of the woman’s injuries, saw broken branches and mashed down bushes and found handcuffs in Rozell’s vehicle, according to the records.
Rozell told investigators he handcuffed the woman to protect her from harming herself, and he said he only pushed her once to defend himself, the records say.
Lancaster police bodyworn camera footage shows that Rozell said “I’ma lose my job” when he was being detained in 2020, according to the records. He also said, “Career gone down the drain. Got to look for something else to do” while in the back of a patrol vehicle, police wrote in the records.
The woman later told investigators she didn’t want Rozell to lose his job and didn’t want to proceed with the criminal case, according to the records.
Although the criminal charges were ultimately dropped, police officials sustained the internal allegations against Rozell. At least five supervisors in his chain of command recommended he was fired in connection with the incident, but under Hall, the former police chief, he was given a 30-day suspension, according to the records.
Reached by phone Friday, Hall said she doesn’t recall not terminating someone if her assistant chief made a recommendation to fire that person. The records show Hall’s signature on a document about the 30-day suspension, and also list her as the acting authority.
Mitchell was arrested in November by the Glenn Heights Police Department while off-duty on a charge of driving while intoxicated. He’d previously worked as a DWI investigator for the department.
García fired him for the DWI arrest, for driving a police vehicle while intoxicated and for using a police vehicle while off-duty for a purpose other than departmental or city business, according to the police email.
Mitchell had worked with Dallas police since 2013 and was assigned to the Special Victims Unit.
The discipline comes a little more than two weeks after another Dallas police officer was fired. On Feb. 28, García fired Officer Barron Cooper, who crashed into a suspect during an unauthorized chase, cursed at him and used inappropriate or unnecessary force during the encounter, police said.
That same day, the chief also handed down a 20-day suspension to Officer Aaron Cagle, who was arrested last year on charges of interference with public duties and public intoxication.
Terrance Hopkins, president of the Black Police Association of Greater Dallas, said he understands police need to be held accountable. But, he added, the department is also charged with showing grace and understanding for officers who should be cleared when it’s necessary or the right thing to do.
“As officers, it’s difficult just day to day — personal life and work life because we’re scrutinized on either side,” Hopkins said. “At the end of the day it’s the chief’s discretion to terminate folks based on their actions as police officers.”
Staff writer Ari Sen contributed to this report.