Dallas Taxpayers Are Shelling Out $725,000 to Defend an Ex-Cop Who Shot an Unarmed Teen

Bad policing is costly in more ways than one.



The Dallas City Council yesterday approved $150,000 in legal fees to defend an ex-cop who shot an unarmed man almost five years ago. The city has now spent more than $700,000 in taxpayer money to fight a civil lawsuit against former Senior Corporal Amy Wilburn.

Then-19-year-old Kelvion Walker was a passenger in what police believed to be a stolen car back in 2013. Dash camera footage shows the incident unfolding:

Police chase the vehicle until the driver, later identified as Reginald Robertson, slows down, jumps out, and runs away. While other officers follow the fleeing driver on foot, Wilburn approaches the car. She pulls out her gun and fires a shot, hitting Walker in the stomach.

Walker was unarmed at the time. He also says his hands were up, a claim that was backed up by a witness. "She gets surprised by Kelvion and pulls her gun and in a split second fires the shot," Wilburn's defense attorney, Robert Rogers, told The Dallas Morning News.

The car, meanwhile, had indeed been stolen. Walker claims he was unaware of that fact, and he has not been charged with a crime. Robertson, though, was sentenced to 14 years behind bars "for aggravated robbery and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle," according to the Morning News.

In the weeks following the shooting, Wilburn was fired from the police force. After being charged with felony aggravated assault, Wilburn pleaded down in May to recklessly firing her gun, a misdeamnor.

Walker, however, has also filed an $8 million federal lawsuit against Wilburn, claiming "grisly disfigurement, and permanent debilitating and humiliating injuries." According to his attorney, he's had to undergo three major surgeries as a result of the shooting.

"It's tough," Walker told CBS DFW. "It's real tough, financially, physically, and mentally."

The suit won't go to trial until February. But the city, which is responsible for defending Wilburn, has already racked up $725,000 in legal bills. That's more than Dallas has ever spent on outside legal fees for a case of officer misconduct, CBS DFW reports.

A spokesperson for the city's Office of Public Affairs and Outreach declined Reason's request for comment. Reason has previously written about how police misconduct costs taxpayers millions of dollars in settlements for civil suits.

This post has been updated to reflect the response Reason received from an Office of Public Affairs and Outreach spokesperson.

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  1. She gets surprised by Kelvion and pulls her gun and in a split second fires the shot…

    I so very much wish I could make an over-the-top misogynistic generalization about how lady cops get intimidated easily and overcompensate for the size and power differential by going straight to lethal force, but the panic fire is more a gender-neutral thing in today’s policing environment. So no quota hire jokes from me today.

    1. Oh come on, you know you want to, you cis-hetero white male shitlord you!

      1. When you all go low, I go high.

    2. At least she wasn’t in the wrong apartment, what with the spacial intelligence deficit suffered by the fairer sex.

      1. Hey, that could happen to anyone drinking above their weight class.

  2. Cops should be required what doctors and other professionals are required to have – liability insurance. In cases of gross negligence, the law would require the insurer, not the taxpayer, to pay up. Guess what happens if you have enough lawsuits? Your insurance gets dropped. Let’s get the private sector insurance market in on this.

    1. I’m sure this sounded smart when you thought it, but how would that change anything?

      1. Cops who became uninsurable would be unemployable.

      2. ” In cases of gross negligence, the law would require the insurer, not the taxpayer, to pay up.” Your puzzlement puzzles me.

    2. Might work if it were required to be a personal policy. I don’t see the police union ever tolerating that, though. They’d insist that it be a departmental policy – which still leaves the taxpayers on the hook.

      1. Police officers are licensed by the states. A liability policy could be made a condition of licensure.

      2. Even if the taxpayers were on the hook for the initial bond amount, it’s still a start.
        Those with repeated claims against their bond would be off the police force sooner than the system we have now

    3. But they are government agents. That means their employer is self insured.

      I really don’t understand what the state is fighting here. She was fired, and charged with a felony. So her employer recognized that she was in the wrong. What’s there to fight, the dollar amount?

      1. Exactly, it’s the dollar amount. She was likely fired because she didn’t kill him. Everyone knows if you kill them the payout for wrongful death is always lower than if they survive. Every cop in her department has now learned the painful lesson of kill or become unemployed.

  3. The actual crime is $750,000.00 in legal fees BEFORE trial.
    I mean, how can that even be? At $250.00/he that is 3,000 hours, a year and a half of billable hours. Before trial. With no dispute of the facts.

    Maybe like the joke about the lawyer who has a heart attack on the golf course and is at the pearly gates asking what happened. St. Peter says you died of a heart attack in your old age. The lawyer protests he is only 35 years old. St. Peter rechecks the book, and says “well, based on your billable hours, we thought you were 95 years old”.

  4. “grisly disfigurement … and humiliating injuries”

    Nice band name.

    1. “humiliating injuries”

      His penis must be involved.

  5. Does it need to be said that they just let him more or less bleed out in the car for five fucking minutes, perhaps more, before they do a fucking thing?

  6. The City of Tacoma has just paid out $680K settlement to a retiring female sheriff’s deputy who is ending her 17-year law enforcement career with what is becoming the usual (for females) self-made golden parachute. She claimed that her whole career she was sexually harassed and passed over, etc. It is also di rigueur anymore for large departments in blue cities never to fight these charges or resist them in any way. They never go to trial. They are always settled.

    Two things were interesting about this instance. The first is that the amount exceeds all the other legal claims that the city of Tacoma paid out in 2017 for damage done by the police to citizens and their property combined. The second is that the entire appropriation was extraordinarily non-transparent, although by law the expenditure must be approved by the county council and be a matter of open public record. It was not.

    It took determined investigative journalism and many court orders to bring this new facet of the public employee “retirement” system to light.

  7. Yet another example of we should cheer when cops are shot in the face

  8. Carpet munching cunts should never be Cops

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