Mark Hughes, Man Mistakenly Identified as Dallas Police Shooter, Still Hasn’t Gotten His Gun Back

Mark Hughes, the man wrongly identified as the Dallas shooter.

Mark Hughes, the man wrongly identified as the Dallas shooter.

It has been three months since the Dallas ambush that left five police officers dead and several others injured. It has also been three months since the Dallas Police Department falsely identified an innocent Black man as the shooter.

To this day, the department has not issued an apology. Now Mark Hughes, the man police wrongly accused, is speaking out — and he also wants his gun back.

Hughes was among hundreds of protesters in downtown Dallas on the night of July 7, 2016 marching for justice over the recent police shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. The Dallas-Fort Worth man told GQ Magazine that the death of Castile, who was attempting to retrieve his concealed carry license before a Minnesota cop fatally shot him, struck a chord with him and highlighted a double standard in the right to bear arms for African-Americans.

That’s what ultimately drove Hughes to show up to the protest with his own gun — an AR-15 rifle. He said his goal was to make the point that a Black man should be able to exercise the Second Amendments rights afforded him by the U.S Constitution — while still complying with local and federal laws — without being harassed by law enforcement.

Little did he know that by the end of the night, the police would declare him a suspect in a deadly shooting spree.

“He said, ‘I’m going out there,’ ” Hughes’ brother Cory recalled of their conversation that night before the protest. ” ‘These two brothers got killed, one of them in particular, Philando Castile, had a gun. It was legal. I’m taking my gun out there.’ ”

With the protest underway, shots began to ring out, as hundreds of demonstrators scattered to get out of harm’s way. According to GQ, Cory Hughes immediately recognized the gunfire as that of an AR-15, and rushed to find his brother who he knew was carrying the same type of gun.

For fear that he would be mistaken as the shooter and gunned down by police on the spot, Mark Hughes took his brother’s advice and agreed to turn in his weapon to police. The moment was captured on video, GQ reports. Mark Hughes gave the police his business card and requested that they call him to retrieve his gun once all the chaos simmered down.

But the Dallas Police Department had already declared him a suspect — and plastered his face all over social media.

“This is one of our suspects,” the tweet read, featuring a photo of Hughes with his AR-15 rifle hanging from his shoulder. “Please help us find him.”

Hughes said he was in disbelief when he saw his photo all over the news. How could they think he was a suspect when he had turned his gun in?

According to GQ, Hughes was taken into custody after he flagged down an officer and tried to explain how he had been mistakenly identified as the shooter. Hughes’ brother, Cory, expressed outrage at the major misstep by police.

“Not ‘if you see him, tell us where he’s at,’ ” he said in reference to the incriminating tweet sent out by police. “It’s ‘here’s a suspect who killed police officers.’ You’re recruiting people to find him. What if they’d come to his house? Cops getting killed, Black man with an AR-15, they aren’t asking any questions. They put an X on his back.”

While in custody, Hughes had his mugshot taken, his hands swabbed for gun residue and his camouflage shirt, pictured in the incriminating tweet, confiscated, the magazine reports. It wasn’t until after hours of interrogation that Hughes was downgraded from a suspect to just a “person of interest.” The department’s original tweet was deleted a short while later.

Still, the Dallas Police Department has yet to issue a public apology for their mistake, as requested by Hughes’ attorney, Lee Merritt. Hughes still hasn’t gotten his gun or his T-shirt back from police.

“I’d like to get my gun back,” Hughes said, noting that it would probably never happen.

GQ also points out that Hughes never received support from the National Rifle Association, the nation’s largest gun rights lobbying group.

“Being of a darker color, that Second Amendment right, you’re not supposed to exercise that right,” Hughes said. “When others do it, it’s okay, but when you do it, you’re a threat to the public … I would think I was afforded the same rights, when in reality I’m not.”

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