Dallas officer charged with choking man under arrest in hospital with deadly force, affidavit claims

According to an affidavit obtained by The Dallas Morning News.

James Cullen Bristo(DeSoto Police Department)

sergeant. James Cullen Bristo used the chokehold after arguing with the man, Darrel Cox, who had both wrists handcuffed to a stretcher and his legs tied together, according to the affidavit.

Bristo, 59, faces a formal oppression charge stemming from the August 2021 incident. A warrant was issued for his arrest on Wednesday, and his attorney, Robert Rogers, confirmed on Thursday that Bristo will was turned in to the DeSoto Police Department.

Rogers said in a written statement that the affidavit “contains conflicting statements from several witnesses that cannot and should not taint the career of a hired public servant.”

Around 3 a.m. on August 28, a Dallas police officer was reported to Deep Ellum by a man who wanted to get an intoxicated Cox out of his restaurant in the 2800 block of Elm Street, according to internal documents. of the police obtained by The news. The officer asked Cox to leave, and Cox attempted to punch the officer in the face, according to the police account.

The officer then placed Cox under arrest “due to erratic behavior, slurred speech, and the strong smell of an alcoholic beverage,” according to the account.

Bristo escorted Cox, who had passed out, to Parkland Memorial Hospital — where witnesses later told police Cox got agitated with Bristo, sparking an argument, according to the affidavit.

Bristo told Cox to “shut up,” the affidavit states. Bristo then stood behind Cox, placed his hands around his neck and strangled him, according to the affidavit. A witness told Bristo to stop and he did for a “brief moment”. Bristo then placed his arm around Cox’s neck in a choke hold so tight he couldn’t speak, according to the affidavit.

Investigators determined that Bristo used a hold called a Lateral Vascular Cervical Tether, which “can only be used by Dallas officers when deadly force is required,” the affidavit states.

Cox told police that Bristo grabbed him by the Adam’s apple and applied pressure, according to the affidavit. He then yelled at Bristo to stop, and several witnesses told Bristo he had to leave, according to the affidavit.

While witnesses told police they believed it was Bristo who agitated Cox, sparking the initial argument, Bristo told authorities that Cox got upset after “finding out what happened to him after he got ‘being woken up in the hospital,’ the affidavit reads.

Bristo said Cox “lunged” at a nurse several times and thought he was “only trying to help the nurse,” according to the affidavit. According to the affidavit, Bristo backed down when a nurse said “enough is enough.”

Cox could not immediately be reached for comment on the incident. Records show he was cited for public intoxication.

Bristo is on administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation, police said. He has been with the department since 1988 and is assigned to the South Central Patrol Division.

Dallas Police Association president Mike Mata said he hopes Bristo receives due process. He said if Bristo is found guilty, “appropriate action must be taken,” as the courts have determined.

He said Bristo is respected among his peers. He trained “many, many officers” through the police academy and the duty bureau, he added.

“A lot of officers had a lot of experience and contact with him, so the fact that he was charged with this was a big surprise to a lot of people,” Mata said. “And, again, we hope he will be treated fairly and have the same rights as any citizen.”

“We will let the courts play,” he added.

In August 2020, Bristo was arrested for drunk driving at Irving. Officers said he was sleeping behind the wheel of a van in a parking lot and after driving off and being pulled over, he told officers he had attended a whiskey tasting.

The case was dismissed in February 2021 after a judge found there was no reasonable suspicion for the traffic stop.

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