A Dallas Morning News investigation, supported with a grant from the Fund, revealed a pattern of allegations of abuse, including flashlight beatings, chokings and racial slurs, against a Dallas police sergeant, but found that the officer was rarely disciplined. Black people and Latinos lodged most of the complaints against Sgt. Roger Rudloff, who is white, the reporters found.
It took nearly 10 months and more than 30 open records requests for the three reporters — Madi Alexander; Cassandra Jaramillo, now with Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting; and Miles Moffeit — to dig deeper into Rudloff’s troubling 26-year record and the limited internal oversight. The team combed through more than 1,000 pages of internal affairs records. One thing was clear: Rudloff was rarely disciplined.
The reporters got onto the story when they documented during protests following the death of George Floyd at the hands of police, that Rudloff blasted a Latina demonstrator in the breast at close range with pepper balls. He then arrested her and a photographer who captured the violence.
But that, it turns out, was not the first time Rudloff had roughed up civilians, particularly people of color, and then tried to cover it up.
After the News published the findings in a comprehensive profile of Rudloff, he was reassigned to the jail. And while the Dallas County District Attorney announced weeks later that he would bring the pepper-ball assault case to a grand jury, the grand jury refused to indict the officer. But the team’s work forced the disclosure of additional video showing that Rudloff’s behavior had spanned decades. And their work has prompted Dallas’s police oversight monitor to set up a new protocol with police to make integrity investigations more open and accessible to the public, an important step towards greater transparency and accountability.