NOTE: The above video contains strong language.
DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – Bodycam footage from a white Fort Worth police officer who was suspended for wrestling a black woman and her daughter to the ground appears to show the officer using his foot to push a 15-year-old girl into a police car.
The footage was provided Thursday to The Associated Press from attorneys representing Jacqueline Craig, who had called police last month to report that a neighbor choked her 7-year-old son for allegedly littering in his yard. One of her daughters videoed the interactions between Craig and Officer William Martin and posted it online. The neighbor was not charged in the incident.
The Fort Worth Police Department has denied media requests to release Martin’s bodycam footage, and a department spokesman did not immediately return a message seeking comment Thursday morning. But the audio of the bodycam video, reviewed by The Associated Press, matches the audio of the Facebook video posted by Craig’s family.
Craig’s attorney, Lee Merritt, said in an email that he had received the bodycam video from a trusted source whom he declined to identify.
“Under the laws of the State of Texas, the attorneys for the Craig family are legally entitled to the complete investigative file, records and recordings of this incident and any officers involved. The FWPD have denied and/or delayed several requests from our office in providing this information,” Merritt wrote.
The footage also depicts Martin’s conversation with Craig and one of her daughters after he places them in the back of a patrol vehicle.
“Here’s the deal. When somebody’s under arrest, if anybody interferes, they go to jail too,” Martin told them.
“Well, I don’t know this. I’m 15 years old,” Craig’s daughter replied.
Craig responds, “He got mad at me for saying what I said. That’s why he did it. But it’s all recorded. It’s all recorded.”
In a written statement released Thursday afternoon, the Fort Worth Police Department explained that “all matters related to the arrest” of Craig and her daughter have now been withdrawn. Also, the neighbor has now been issued a citation for assault by contact.
Martin served a 10-day suspension with no pay and has since returned to work. He is appealing his suspension with the city’s Civil Service Commission.
A disciplinary report submitted to the commission said that Martin violated department policy by using excessive force and failing to thoroughly investigate. Other findings included neglect of duty, being discourteous to the public and conduct prejudicial to good order.
Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald said earlier this month that Martin violated policy and is sorry for his behavior. Fitzgerald said that he has asked Martin, who will also be required to undergo additional training, to go back into the same community “to repair relationships.”
However, in the statement released on Thursday afternoon, the Fort Worth Police Department said that Martin would not be returning to that neighborhood. “We are committed to ensuring all Fort Worth Police officers live up to restoring the trust you have lost in our department,” the statement said.
Mayor Betsy Price also released a statement on the matter, standing by Fitzgerald’s action. “I am committed to the restorative process needed to heal any breach of trust in our community. We continue to support the work of our excellent Fort Worth officers, who are tasked with so much in their roles to serve and protect our citizens. We know that healing takes time and compassionate efforts. But, as we learn from this incident, I trust that our community will grow to be even stronger.”
A statement from the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office also expressed agreement with the Fort Worth Police Department’s latest actions.
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