After three combat tours in Iraq, Dabrett Black returned a deeply disturbed man, his family says.
He slept with guns, suffered memory loss and thought someone put a chip in his brain. He was convinced people were out to get him.
In recent years, his paranoia led to repeated confrontations with law enforcement — most recently, on Thanksgiving, when he killed trooper Damon Allen, police say.
Allen pulled Black over on a routine traffic stop about two hours south of Dallas, near Fairfield, Texas. Authorities say Black grabbed a rifle and shot Allen several times, killing him. He was captured near Houston following a brief shootout.
It was the outcome his father feared for years since his 2012 discharge.
“He left here a perfect young man, but he came back all messed up,” says his father, John Black of Lindale.
Veterans who served with Black say the military failed him.
“There’s thousands of us roaming the states who have not been treated because the Army felt its quicker to kick you out than to get you help,” said Matthew Chappell, who medically retired from the Army.
Growing up in Lindale
Black grew up on a country road in Lindale about 90 miles east of Dallas. He played football. He is remembered as always having a smile on his face.
When he graduated from his high school, his father suggested he join the military. One day in 2004, he drove to Dallas and did just that.
“He didn’t say anything to me or his mother,” his father says “He came back and said, ‘I done joined.’”
John Black was proud his son had followed in his footsteps. Both of them served in the infantry.
His family says he didn’t change much after the first combat tour.