Following the George Floyd protests, Dallas Morning News reporters documented how a Dallas police sergeant blasted a Latina demonstrator in the breast at close range with pepper balls then arrested her and the photographer who captured the violence. Reporters Cassandra Jaramillo, Madi Alexander and Miles Moffeit soon heard whispers that this wasn’t the first time Sgt. Roger Rudloff had roughed up civilians, particularly people of color, and then tried to cover it up. It took nearly 10 months and more than 30 open records requests to create a comprehensive profile of Rudloff’s troubling 26-year record and commanders’ negligible oversight. With a grant from the Fund, the team combed through more than 1,000 pages of internal affairs records and found at least 18 investigations into Rudloff, mostly involving physical and verbal abuse of people of color. The reporters discovered that, despite a lengthy history of brutality allegations, Rudloff was rarely disciplined.
Weeks after the story was published, the Dallas County District Attorney announced that he would bring the pepper-ball assault case to a grand jury. As a result of The News’ reporting, Rudloff was reassigned to the jail and likely will never return to patrol. The team’s story also prompted Dallas’s police oversight monitor to set up a new protocol with police to share information about public integrity investigations.