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Trump cites Dallas beating to governors, leaves out details

Protesters flee as Dallas police officers launch tear gas during a confrontation at a rally for George Floyd on May 29, 2020.
Protesters flee as Dallas police officers launch tear gas during a confrontation at a rally for George Floyd on May 29, 2020. (Shelby Tauber for The Texas Tribune)

DALLAS – When President Donald Trump demanded Monday that governors get tougher in cracking down on violence among some demonstrations, he cited Dallas protesters badly beating a man this weekend.

But the president's comments left out what police suggest sparked the incident to which he seemed to be referring — the man swinging a machete at protesters. And the man was last reported to be in stable condition, contrary to Trump suggesting he may have died.

During a video-conference call with state leaders, law enforcement officers and national security officials, Trump told the governors they need to “dominate” or else wind up looking like “jerks.”

“I saw what happened in Dallas, where they kicked a guy to death. I don’t know if he died or not, but if he didn’t it’s a miracle. What they did to him, they were kicking him like I’ve never seen anything like it in my life,” Trump said. “People don’t talk about that. They don’t talk about that. They’re talking about a lot of other things, but they don’t talk about that. But I saw what happened in Dallas. Those kids, they’re all on camera. They’re wise guys. It’s coming from the radical left. You know it, everybody knows it.”

The comments appear to refer to graphic videos of a man being beaten in Dallas Saturday that circulated widely on social media. One video posted to Twitter by a reporter for Blaze TV was viewed more than 33 million times.

Dallas police said that man was alive Sunday and in stable condition at a hospital but that they don't provide updates on victims' health unless they die.

Witnesses told investigators the attack began when the man “came to the protest wielding a large knife/machete at several protesters,” according to police Sgt. Warren Mitchell. He had the machete to “allegedly protect his neighborhood from protesters,” Mitchell said.

One protester tried to fight the man off with a skateboard and managed to disarm him but also had his hand cut, Mitchell said.

The video starts with protesters throwing things at a man carrying a long object. He then raises it, runs at a protester carrying a skateboard and someone is heard screaming.

The camera is briefly obscured. Moments later, it focuses on a group of people punching and kicking the man. One person appears to throw a stone, striking him in the head. The group then clears away, leaving the man's twisted body bleeding in the street.

No one has been charged in the incident. Neither the man who was carrying the machete nor the protester who was cut on the hand has filed a complaint, Mitchell said Monday.

Trump seemed to reference the beating again Monday night during remarks from the White House in the Rose Garden.

“A number of state and local governments have failed to take necessary action to safeguard their residents,” Trump said. "Innocent people have been savagely beaten, like the young man in Dallas, Texas, who was left dying on the street, or the woman in upstate New York viciously attacked by dangerous thugs.”

In Austin, authorities said a 20-year-old black protester was in critical condition after a police officer firing a beanbag round at someone else missed, striking the victim in the head.

Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said Monday the intended target was fired on after hurling a water bottle and backpack toward officers Sunday night. But he said the round missed and struck the person standing next to him, causing the man to fall and apparently land on his head outside police headquarters.

Manley said the man who was struck was “fighting for their life.”

“I’m crushed,” Manley said. “That is not what we set out to do as a police department. That was not what we set out to do this weekend.”

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Associated Press reporters Paul J. Weber in Austin and Nomaan Merchant in Houston contributed to this story.