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Dallas County grand jury declines to indict former paramedic for kicking, hitting man

The grand jury considered a charge of injury to a disabled person against Brad Alan Cox this week and returned a no-bill.

Brad Cox kicking
A frame from a police body camera shows Dallas firefighter Brad Cox kicking Kyle Robert Vess on Aug. 2, 2019.(Lola Gomez / Staff Photographer)

By Krista M. Torralva

former Dallas Fire-Rescue paramedic who kicked a downed, unarmed man won’t face charges after a Dallas County grand jury declined to indict.

The grand jury considered a felony charge of injury to a disabled person against Brad Alan Cox, 46, this week and returned a no-bill.

News outlets including The Dallas Morning News published videos last year of Cox kicking Kyle Vess at least nine times and goading him to fight during the 2019 incident. The fire department fired Cox in October.

Dallas police reviewed its initial investigation into Cox this year and decided in February not to file a criminal case with the Dallas County district attorney’s office, a police spokesman said at the time. But the DA’s office requested the case, police spokeswoman Kristin Lowman said.

District Attorney John Creuzot previously said the statute of limitations had already expired on any potential crimes. On Friday, he said his office reviewed the section of the law that describes an injury to a disabled person and determined a grand jury should decide whether it applied. The charge carries a five-year statute of limitations.

“As I understood the facts at the time, the only offenses applicable would have had a statute of limitations,” Creuzot said. “Upon further review and research, there was a possibility of injury to a disabled person which has a different statute of limitations.”

Attorneys for Cox did not immediately respond to requests for comment. His lawyers could have argued Cox did not know and could not have known that Vess had a disability, according to the law’s description of an affirmative defense.

Vess, 32, who was homeless at the time, suffers from mental illnesses and a traumatic brain injury, his family has said.

Cox’s kicks and punches to Vess’ head aggravated the brain injury, his family said in a lawsuit filed against the city and Cox last year. Vess was left with a fractured eye socket, cracked teeth and a fractured sinus, and the right side of his face is partially paralyzed, the lawsuit says. The lawsuit is still pending.

The Department of State Health Services is conducting a separate investigation into whether Cox should keep his EMT-paramedic certification.

Dallas police said Vess, who has a mental illness similar to schizophrenia, was setting fires along the Interstate 30 frontage road in West Dallas on Aug. 2, 2019. Cox told officers on the scene that Vess hit him as he stomped out one of the fires.

Vess was arrested on suspicion of assaulting a public servant and hospitalized overnight before being jailed. He was later sent to a mental health facility to have his competency restored to stand trial, and he was released on house arrest in 2020.

The Dallas County district attorney’s office dismissed the case against Vess in October. At the time, Vess’ criminal defense lawyer held a news conference and called on Dallas police to arrest Cox. The lawyer, George Milner III, said Friday he was disappointed with the grand jury’s decision.

“Mr. Cox clearly abused his authority and severely assaulted my client,” Milner said.

Within months of the incident, DPD’s Public Integrity Unit determined that Cox, who is also a mixed-martial arts fighter, had acted in self-defense.

In his written response to the lawsuit, Cox said he was forced to defend himself against Vess’ aggressive behavior. Cox believed his actions were proper and did not break the law, his lawyers wrote in court filings.

In three other instances after he was hired in 2002, Cox was reprimanded for refusing to provide medical treatment to patients. In one of those cases, Dallas Fire-Rescue determined that Cox failed to properly assess and transport a patient during an emergency and suspended him for one shift without pay.

In August 2011, Cox received a letter of counseling for “unacceptable conduct” when he failed to ride in the back of an ambulance with a patient being rushed to a hospital.

Cox’s treatment of a homeless man outside a soup kitchen in December 2016 drew criminal charges and a federal lawsuit against him. Cox and another paramedic, Kyle Clark, were called to help Hirschell Fletcher, who had been robbed and assaulted.

An officer noted an injury on Fletcher’s head, but Clark and Cox cleared him to ride with police to the county jail instead of taking him to a hospital. Fletcher was later found brain dead at the jail and died from his injury.

Cox and Clark falsely wrote in their reports that police took Fletcher away before they arrived, according to felony indictments against them for tampering with a government record. They were allowed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor in exchange for deferred adjudication, which allows a person to avoid a conviction if he successfully completes probation.

Cox started his probation in April 2019 and completed it in 2020. His probation required him to avoid “injurious or vicious behavior.”

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