A Tarrant County jury found former Arlington police officer Ravinder “Ravi” Singh not guilty of criminally negligent homicide on August 29.
Singh was facing the charges due to an officer-involved shooting that occurred in August of 2019. A grand jury returned an indictment against the former officer in September 2020.
Singh responded to a public request for a welfare check after bystanders noticed a seemingly unconscious woman in a grassy area near a shopping center. Police released body camera footage from the incident that shows Singh approaching the woman and asking if she is alright, but he gets no response. A labrador retriever sitting near the woman begins to run toward Singh, who then fires his handgun three times. The dog retreated.
Immediately, the woman can be heard screaming as she realizes she was shot by police. The victim, Margarita “Maggie” Victoria Brooks, 30, was struck once in the chest in the shooting. She later died from the wound at Medical City Arlington Hospital.
Brooks’ estranged husband and the father of two of her three children said that she had fallen on tough times periodically, leading to homelessness at times. Brooks’ three children were all minors when the shooting happened. It is not clear who had custody of the children at the time.
Singh had worked as a detention officer and graduated from the Police Academy in February 2019. He was cleared for duty on July 1, 2019, exactly one month before the incident. He retired from the force shortly after the incident without returning to service after being placed on mandatory leave.
The charge that Singh faced is the most lenient of the four murder charges available to prosecutors in Texas. Criminally negligent homicide convictions can result in sentences ranging from 180 days to two years.
Criminally negligent homicide differs from manslaughter charges in that prosecutors must prove that the accused individual neglected a reasonable duty to prevent the death, that their actions directly caused the death, and that the defendant was aware of the danger of their actions. If any one of these three conditions cannot be reasonably demonstrated, the defendant will be found not guilty, as was the case for Singh.
Defense Attorney Kathy Lowthorp stated that the verdict was widely decided by the fact that the bullet that struck Brooks ricocheted rather than being a direct hit. Singh’s defense team portrayed the incident as a tragic accident and argued that Singh had a reasonable fear of the dog attacking both him and Brooks.
However, the prosecution argued that Singh was well aware there was a person in the direction he was shooting. By shooting, they suggested, he neglected his training.
Singh expressed sorrow for his actions to the jury, stating: “I just want to get this all behind me…this was never my intention of what happened to Maggie. I was there to help her, and this was a completely tragic accident.”
Following the four-day trial, the jury deliberated for 10 hours before returning the “not guilty” verdict.
The Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney released a statement following the announcement of the verdict on Monday.
“Any time an officer is involved in the use of force that results in the death of a civilian, our office takes that investigation to a Grand Jury. If the Grand Jury returns an indictment on the officer, we prosecute the case,” the statement reads.
“A jury heard the facts related to the death of Ms. Brooks in 2019. They evaluated the testimony and evidence and determined that Ravinder Singh was not guilty. By doing so, the jury fulfilled their duty in the criminal justice system, as did we.”
Singh also faces a civil lawsuit filed by Brooks’ father, an Arlington Fire Department captain who was on the scene the day of the shooting. That case is currently scheduled to begin in early 2023. Brooks’ family is seeking $1 million in damages.
Why is it that a white cop can have a jury of their peers predominately white but a black defendant also us a predominantly white jury as a jury of their peers also? Are white jurors the only peers of people on trial or can a predominantly black jury be found for white cops in trial? Asking for a friend.