Fact Check

The Tragic Life Experiences of Dallas Police Chief David Brown

The deaths of five officers in Dallas prompted interest in the often tragic life circumstances of Chief David Brown.

Published Jul 13, 2016

Dallas Police Chief David Brown lost a son, brother, and work partner to gun violence.

On 12 July 2016, the Facebook page "Heroes In Blue" published the status update depicted above, describing the life of Dallas Police Department Chief David Brown, who lost his son, his brother, and his police partner in separate incidents of crime and gun violence: 

chief brown dallas

Almost exactly six years before the Dallas police shootings, local news outlets reported the death of Brown's 27-year-old son, after he shot and killed a police officer in 2010:

The son of Dallas Police Chief David Brown killed a Lancaster police officer and another man during a Sunday melee that left three people dead, according to a law enforcement official.

David Brown Jr., 27, was himself shot and killed by officers, according to the official.

The elder Brown had been serving as Chief for less than two months at the time of the incident (which took place on Father's Day). Shortly before Brown's son and the police officer were killed, the normally circumspect Chief spoke to The Dallas Morning News about the unrelated 1988 and 1991 deaths of former partner Walter L. Williams and Brown's brother Kelvin:

More Dallas cops were shot to death in 1988 than in any other year in department history. For Brown, one case was particularly devastating.

It was Aug. 2. Brown was only weeks into his assignment in the physical evidence section when he responded to an officer-involved shooting in west Oak Cliff. The cop was reportedly in grave condition.

At the crime scene, on the ground, Brown soon spotted a familiar pair of eyeglasses. They were like the ones worn by his police academy classmate and former partner, Walter L. Williams ... Williams, a 47-year-old father of three, died at a hospital hours after the shooting. Brown left the crime scene and was with his friend's children when they got the news.

"When things like that happen and you're really close, you don't believe it for the longest time," Brown said. "I really relate to all of those in-the-line-of-duty deaths [on a] much more personal level ... you lose a partner, you just never get over it."

Three years after Williams' death, violence came even closer. His younger brother, Kelvin Brown, was killed in 1991 in the Phoenix area by drug dealers.

He resists speaking about his brother's death, in part because of his concerns that it might hurt the rest of his family.

"I can't deny that's a part of who I am," Brown said. "The families of victims, I know what they go through. My family had to go through that. But does it make me police in a different manner or lead in a different manner? I'm not sure.

"I really enjoyed catching bad guys before that happened," Brown said. "And I still really enjoy it."

Brown was also criticized by fellow officers over a last-minute police escort his son's funeral.

All three claims about Dallas's police chief were true. In 1988, Brown's former partner Walter Williams was shot to death. In 1991, his brother Kelvin was killed by drug dealers in Phoenix. And in 2010, his son David Brown killed an officer and was shot and killed at the scene, just seven weeks after the elder Brown became the Dallas Chief of Police. 


Eiserer, Tanya.   "Dallas Officers Still Seething Over Funeral Procession For Police Chief David Brown’s Son."     The Dallas Morning News.   27 June 2010.

Eiserer, Tanya and Scott Goldstein.   "Source: Dallas Police Chief's Son Killed Lancaster Officer."     The Dallas Morning News.   21 June 2010.

Goldstein, Scott.   "Dallas Police Chief David Brown Is A Private Man In A Most Public Job."     The Dallas Morning News.   23 May 2010.

Goldstein, Scott.   "New Dallas Police Chief Brown Picks Up Where Kunkle Left Off: Chipping Away At Crime Rate."     The Dallas Morning News.   5 May 2010.

Vargas, Theresa.   "Dallas Police Chief David Brown Lost His Son, Former Partner And Brother To Violence."     Washington Post.   8 July 2016.

Kim LaCapria is a former writer for Snopes.

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