Fort Worth, TX – A former Arlington police officer who fatally shot a woman while trying to stop a dog from attacking him was acquitted of negligent homicide on Monday.
Ravinder Singh, 28, resigned from the Arlington Police Department (APD) in November of 2019 in the midst of an internal investigation into the Aug. 1, 2019 shooting death of 30-year-old Margarita Brooks, KXAS reported.
The rookie officer encountered Brooks while responding to a request for a welfare check on a woman who was allegedly passed out in the grass near the intersection of North Collins Street and Cantor Drive.
Multiple people who worked or lived in the area later told investigators that they believed Brooks was homeless and that they often saw her and her boyfriend walking around the area with their dog, KWTX reported.
Bodycam footage showed Officer Singh walking towards Brooks and asking her if she was okay as she was lying in the grass behind a strip mall.
She eventually responded that she was fine just her 40-pound Labrador-mix began barking and heading for him, KWTX reported.
Officer Singh retreated and yelled for the charging animal to “get back,” then fired three rounds from his duty weapon.
At least one of the bullets ricocheted and struck Brooks in the chest.
The dog was grazed by one of the rounds, but survived, KWTX reported.
Brooks, a mother of three, succumbed to her wounds at a local hospital, according to KXAS.
A Tarrant County grand jury indicted Singh on a charge of criminally negligent homicide in September of 2020.
Closing arguments in his four-day trial wrapped up on Aug. 26, and the jury deliberated for approximately three hours before breaking for the weekend, KXAS reported.
Deliberations resumed on Monday morning and concluded shortly before 4 p.m.
Singh, who faced a maximum of two years in prison and a $10,000 fine, was found not guilty, KXAS reported.
“A jury heard the facts related to the death of Ms. Brooks in 2019,” the district attorney’s office said after the verdict. “They evaluated the testimony and evidence and determined that Ravinder Singh was not guilty. By doing so, the jury fulfilled their duty in the criminal justice system, as did we.”
Singh’s attorney, Kathy Lowthorp, noted that many people jumped to conclusions shortly after the incident without understanding the facts of the case.
“Until you understood the facts and realized this was a ricochet—that didn’t come out until right before indictment,” Lowthorp told CBS News. “So a lot of decisions were made without knowing that this was strictly a double ricochet.”
Singh apologized to Brooks’ family in a prepared statement prior to the verdict being read, KXAS reported.
“My sincere condolences to the Brooks family and her friends for their loss,” he said. “I too have been at a loss because the outcome of my action has not been easy to bare.”
#BREAKING: Tarrant County jury acquits former @ArlingtonPD cop Ravinder Singh of criminally negligent homicide in killing of Margarita Brooks during welfare call when he shot at her charging dog. He faced up 2yrs in state prison. Two days of deliberation @CourthouseNews pic.twitter.com/TGsnv2plhl
— David Lee (@davejourno) August 29, 2022
“It was always my dream to serve this country, and serve my citizens of Arlington,” he said, according to CBS News. “And this was never my intention of what happened to Maggie. I was there to help her, and this was a completely tragic accident.”
Brooks’ father, Troy Brooks, told reporters outside the courtroom that there were “no winners” in this case, KXAS reported.
“That’s a young man in there,” he said. “This changes the course of his life. We can’t get Maggie back.”
Troy Brooks said he cannot understand how the jury found the former officer not guilty.
“You see the video for yourself,” he said, according to CBS News. “There’s nobody that owns a gun that would ever take that shot. Ever. But if you’re a police officer, you’re covered in absolute immunity. You can do whatever you want, and there are no repercussions for you.”
Brooks’ family filed a $2 million federal civil rights lawsuit in July of 2021 over her death, KXAS reported.
That case is still pending.