DALLAS (AP) — A former Dallas police officer was “totally unjustified” when he shot a dozen times into a car, killing a 21-year-old woman, a prosecutor said Tuesday.
Christopher Hess, 42, appeared in court for the start of his trial on a charge of aggravated assault by a public servant in the 2017 death of Genevive Dawes. He faces up to life in prison if convicted.
In opening arguments, prosecutors portrayed Hess’ actions as unreasonable, while his defense lawyers told the jury that Dawes was “armed, aggressive and unwilling to be arrested” on the night she died, WFAA-TV reports.
Hess will testify in his own defense, attorney Messina Madson said.
Hess was one of two officers who responded to a suspicious persons call in January 2017 and found Dawes and another person asleep in a car that had been reported stolen, police have said. Dawes allegedly ignored commands to exit the car, reversed into a police cruiser, rammed a fence and was backing up again when police opened fire.
A grand jury handed up the charge against Hess months after the confrontation, which at the time made him the first Dallas officer in more than four decades to be indicted for an a deadly police shooting. Since then, several other North Texas officers have been charged for their actions in fatal shootings.
Hess was fired in July 2017 after an internal investigation found he violated the department’s felony traffic stop policy, use of force policy and placed a person in greater danger than necessary.