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Former Local Police Officer Indicted for First-Degree Murder

City, Crime

Former Officer Robert Phillips | Image by CBS

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The Tarrant County Criminal district attorney announced Friday that a grand jury had returned an indictment against former Arlington police officer Robert Phillips.

Phillips is being charged with first-degree murder in the death of 40-year-old Jesse Joseph Fischer on October 20, 2021. The police department had fired Phillips two days after the shooting death of Fischer for allegedly violating police procedures.


The incident began with a 911 call in which an individual stated that a man was seen slumped over the wheel of a running SUV sitting motionless on Pioneer Parkway in Arlington.

When Phillips and another officer arrived on the scene, they found the man, later identified as Fischer, awake in the running vehicle. Officers ordered him to shut the vehicle off, but he drove away instead.

A low-speed chase ensued, with police trailing the suspect’s vehicle at about 20 miles per hour. The suspect stopped the vehicle a short time later at Daniel Drive and Arkansas Lane, and police reportedly ordered him at least 10 times to drop his keys. Again, Fischer drove away at low speeds, trailed by police.

Finally, Phillip’s police unit trapped Fischer in a dead-end cul-de-sac near Arkansas Lane and Collins Street. At this point, Phillips exited his police unit and approached the driver’s side of the suspect’s vehicle.

Rather than comply, Fischer reportedly made a U-turn in an attempt to drive away again. Phillips, who had placed himself in front of the vehicle, drew his service weapon.

He is said to have warned the suspect, “Don’t you do it,” and fired multiple shots into the vehicle’s windshield as it continued to advance toward him, striking Fischer.

Arlington Police Sgt. Chris Moore told The Fort Worth Star-Telegram that officers performed life-saving measures on Fischer until paramedics arrived.

Fischer later died at the hospital. Images from the scene show a white Jeep SUV, presumably the vehicle driven by Fischer, with a large pool of what appears to be blood just outside of the driver’s side of the vehicle.

Arlington police opened two investigations into the matter, one a criminal investigation to determine whether the involved officer had committed a crime and the other an administrative investigation to determine whether Phillips had followed established police procedure.

Phillips had been an officer with the Arlington Police Department for seven years at the time of the shooting. He and the other officer involved in the incident were placed on administrative leave following the shooting while the investigation was conducted.

The department quickly determined in its internal review that Phillips had violated procedures, first by exiting his vehicle and approaching the suspect’s, and again when he drew and fired his weapon. He was fired on October 22, 2021.

Following Phillips’ termination, the Arlington Police Association petitioned to have him reinstated, arguing that his actions were appropriate because he “feared for his life.” The union claimed that the firing was “politically motivated” and was an attempt to prevent public outrage in the wake of increased media attention surrounding officer-involved shootings of unarmed suspects.

In a press release, Arlington Police Chief Al Jones stated that the firing was not politically motivated but was about “transparency.”

According to the release, Jones believes that body and dash cam video evidence of the shooting showed that Phillips could have retreated out of harm’s way or used other non-lethal measures. He further claimed that officers could have blocked off the street, preventing Fischer from continuing to drive away.

It is unclear whether Phillips was the only officer terminated after the incident, but he is the only individual facing criminal charges.

The murder charge is a first-degree felony in Texas and can carry a sentence ranging from five to 99 years. No statement from Phillips was publicly available as of press time.   

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Anna
Anna
18 days ago

This officer puts his life on the line everyday that he has that uniform on!! Why are their hands tied when dealing with criminals?? The man was given the same order several times then tried to run over the officer. Given another chance I’m 99.9% sure it would’ve been the officer that lost his life!! STOP tying their hands and STOP supporting the criminals for fear of a law suit!! This officer needs to reinstated and all criminal charges against him dropped!!

Lonestar
Lonestar
18 days ago

The cop should have jumped aside and shot the vehicle’s tires. Cast wheels will last only so long after the rubber is dislodged from them.

Jeffrey Barnes
Jeffrey Barnes
Reply to  Lonestar
16 days ago

Stay home and eat it Doritos.

Thomas Eaton
Thomas Eaton
9 days ago

Time after time you see this. Did not have to happen, comply with Law Enforcement. Go to jail,sober up,come down from your high and live another day. For whatever reason, idiots think they can do whatever they please. No sympathy for anyone except the Police Officer.

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