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Dallas Police Ambush

Trauma Surgeon Who Treated Dallas Cops: ‘This Killing, It Has to Stop’

Black Surgeon Who Cared for Dying Dallas Officers Supports, Fears Police 2:38

In an emotional press conference that touched on the complex issues of race, policing and guns, a trauma surgeon who cared for the officers killed in the Dallas ambush, confessed his complicated relationship to the deadly week as a Black man in America.

"I want the Dallas PD to also see me, a black man, and understand that I support you, I will defend you, and I will care for you," said Dr. Brian H. Williams, a staff surgeon who was working at Parkland Trauma Center last Thursday night during the shootings.

But "that doesn't mean that I do not fear you," he added. "That doesn't mean that if you approach me I will not immediately have a visceral reaction and start worrying for my personal safety."

Williams spoke of setting an example for his daughter by interacting and treating officers with respect in a very public way— things like picking up their dining tab when he sees them eating out — so that she does not grow up crippled by fear.

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"This experience has been very personal for me and a turning point in my life ... We routinely care for multiple gunshot victims, but the preceding days of more black men dying at the hands of police officers affected me," he started. "I fit that demographic of individuals."

The Parkland Memorial Hospital facility received 7 victims after the July 7 mass shooting at the tail end of a Black Lives Matter march. Dr. Williams was part of a team that treated the five officers who were killed when gunman Micah Johnson, an Army veteran, opened fire from a sniper position.

While denouncing the police killings, Dr. Williams acknowledged that the anger, frustration and distrust of law enforcement felt by many in the Black community were due to the lack of "open discussions about the impact of race relations in this country."

Image: Brian Williams
Dr. Brian H. Williams, a trauma surgeon at Parkland Memorial Hospital, visits at the hospital, Monday, July 11, 2016, in Dallas. Williams treated some of the Dallas police officers who were shot Thursday night in downtown Dallas. Eric Gay / AP

The surgeon expressed his support for law enforcement nationwide and spoke of the heavy burden he now carries.

"I think about it every day that I was unable to save those cops when they came here that night. It weighs on my mind constantly."

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"This killing, it has to stop. We have to come together and end all of this," he said with his voice shaking and tears welling up in his eyes. "Black men dying and being forgotten. People retaliating against the people that are sworn to defend us. We have to come together and end all of this.

"There's this dichotomy where I'm standing with law enforcement but I also personally feel and understand that angst that comes when you cross the paths of an officer in uniform and you're fearing for your safety. I've been there and I understand that. But for me that does not condone disrespecting or killing police officers," Williams said.

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The doctor also offered condolences to the families of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile who were killed by police officers earlier in the week in Baton Rouge, La., and Falcon Heights, Minn.

Williams got his medical degree from the University of South Florida in 2001, did his residency at Harvard's Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and a fellowship at Emory University's Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta before joining Parkland six years ago.

The surgeon was flanked by his fellow trauma team members and the press conference ended with expressions of support for one another and perspective despite the emotional toll.

"This is one of the most difficult times in my life, but i recognize that no matter what I'm going through right now, compared to the families of the officers and the victims that were killed this last week, it's nothing."