Two Dallas Morning News reporters said a Texas state trooper rolled a can of tear gas at them while they covered protests in downtown Dallas, Texas, on May 30, 2020.
The protests were sparked by a video showing a police officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, a black man, for 8 minutes and 46 seconds during an arrest on May 25. Floyd was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
On May 30th, Dallas Morning News reporters Corbett Smith and Jesus Jiménez were documenting police efforts to clear out protesters from outside of their newspaper’s office.
Smith told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker that the incident happened just after 8 p.m., when a state trooper, who was standing 20 to 25 yards away, made eye contact with Smith as the pair stood on South Harwood Street near the The Dallas Morning News headquarters.
“There's a state trooper who turns and looks right at me,” Smith said, “and pulled the pin on the gas.” The trooper rolled the canister toward Smith and Jiménez, but the canister “kind of skittered off to the west underneath a car that was 10 feet away.” The pair was able to quickly retreat, avoiding being enveloped by the gas.
There was no one standing between the journalists and the trooper at the time he rolled the canister at them, Smith said.
Both Smith and Jiménez said they were clearly identifiable as members of the media. The Tracker documented Jiménez's assault here.
“It was very clear who I was and what I was doing,” Smith said. “I never thought that I would have an officer do something like that.”
Smith identified the officer as a state trooper, part of the Texas Department of Public Safety, based on the shield he was carrying.
In response to a request for comment, a spokesperson from the Texas DPS wrote in an email that the department “does not have a record of any of our personnel deploying a gas canister in the area of the Dallas Morning News offices in Dallas on the evening of May 30, 2020.”
The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker documents journalists being assaulted, arrested, struck by crowd-control ammunition or tear gas or who had their equipment damaged in the course of reporting. Find all incidents related to Black Lives Matter and anti-police brutality protests here.
This article was updated to reflect comment from the Texas Department of Public Safety.