Dallas mother thanks police for shielding her and her son during protest

A 12-year-old boy who was separated from his mother when shots rang out during the Dallas sniper attack gives an emotional recounting of the ordeal.
People rally in Dallas, Texas, on July 7 to protest the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.
People rally in Dallas, Texas, on July 7 to protest the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.PHOTO: AFP

DALLAS (Reuters) - When the bullet struck her leg during the protest in downtown Dallas, Shetamia Taylor's first thoughts were for her four sons.

Taylor tackled the nearest boy to the ground then looked up to see a police officer racing to shield them from the gunfire.

"That officer jumped on top of me and covered me and my son and there was another one at our feet, and there was another one over our head," Taylor told reporters on Sunday.

"I'm thankful for all of them, because they had no regard for their own life."

Pushed into the news conference at Baylor University Medical Center in a wheelchair and hospital gown, Taylor wept as she recounted seeing two officers shot in front of her.

One was a tall, white, bald policeman. "As he was going down, he said, 'He has a gun. Run,'" she recalled.

Police said a military veteran killed five officers on Thursday in a rampage that was the most deadly day for US law enforcement since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Taylor, 37, said when she first heard the gunfire, she thought it might be fireworks left over from Fourth of July celebrations. She said the attack left her hurt and angry.

"Why would he do that?" she asked of the gunman, identified by authorities as Micah X. Johnson, 25.

Johnson launched his ambush during a protest against the killing by police of two black men in Minnesota and Louisiana, one of a string of demonstrations nationwide.

Taylor had attended with her four sons, aged 12 to 17.

"I was scared, I really didn't know what was going to happen," Jamar Taylor, 12, told reporters, breaking into sobs as he described becoming separated from his mother.

Taylor said, in her opinion, the police were not all "out to get us" and that people should reserve judgment.

"Please, just stop and think," she said. "I tell my kids all the time, you know, 'Closed mouth, open mind will get you a long way in life.'

Sometimes, just be quiet and think first."

Another of her sons, Wavion Washington, hailed the officer who shielded them as they escaped.

"He was really selfless and he put himself in harm's way ... to protect us," Washington told the news conference.

"So, we understand that there are a few bad apples out there, but they don't spoil the whole bunch."