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Dallas trauma surgeon Brian H. Williams gives emotional press conference

"I think about it every day that I was unable to save those cops"

CNN  — 

Dr. Brian H. Williams, a trauma surgeon at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, was on duty last Thursday night when wounded police officers began to arrive in the ER.

Speaking to CNN’s Don Lemon Monday night, he said that the experience has affected him deeply and was like “this bad movie on an endless loop.”

He added: “Going to work has forced me to kind of push it aside temporarily but it continues to break through.

“I’m thinking about the officers and their families and the men that were killed in Baton Rouge and Minnesota last week and I compare my situation to theirs and it’s hard for me to focus on myself right now.”

Visibly upset, he told Lemon: “I don’t understand why people think its OK to kill police officers. I don’t understand why black men die in custody and they’re forgotten the next day. I don’t know why this has to be us against them. This is all really… it has to stop.

“We are all in this together, we are all connected. All this violence, all this hatred, all these disagreements, it impacts us all, whether you realize it or not. This is not the kind of world we want to leave for our children. Something has to be done.”

Central to the conflict that Williams feels is the experiences he has as both a surgeon and as a black man, and the different reactions that his professional and personal appearances elicit.

“Clearly when I’m at work dressed in my white coat the reactions I get with individuals and the officers I deal with on a daily basis is much different to what I would get outside the hospital in regular clothes and my fear and mild inherent distrust in law enforcement, that goes back to my own personal experiences that I’ve had in my own personal life as well as hearing the stories from friends and family that look like me, that have had similar experiences,” he said.

“You put that all together, that will explain why I feel like I do.”

Life-altering experience

Williams tells CNN the incident has “absolutely” changed him.

“I work with (law enforcement) on a daily basis; they’re my colleagues, they’re my friends, and I respect what they do. But I also understand how men like me can fear and distrust officers in uniform.

“I get it, but that does not justify inciting violence against police officers. It does not justify trying to kill police officers. This incident didn’t fix anything; it’s making it worse.”

‘Going nonstop’

At an earlier press conference, an emotional Williams said he “had been going nonstop” since the shooting and talked about the aftermath of the ambush that killed five officers.

“I think about it everyday that I was unable to save those cops when they came here that night,” Williams said . “It weighs on my mind constantly. This killing, it has to stop.”

“This experience has been very personal for me and a turning point in my life,” said Williams, who is African-American. “We routinely care for multiple gunshot victims. But the preceding days of more black men dying at the hands of police officers affected me. I think the reasons are obvious. I fit that demographic of individuals. But I abhor what has been done to these officers and I grieve with their families.”

The ambush in Dallas followed the fatal shooting by police of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota.

The black community and the police need to work together, Williams said.

“I understand the anger and the frustration and the distrust of law enforcement, but they are not the problem,” Williams said. “The problem is the lack of open discussions about the impact of race relations in this country. Black men dying and being forgotten. People are retaliating against the people who are sworn to defend us. We have to come together. And end all this.”