FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – A jury found a Fort Worth man guilty of misdemeanor assault Wednesday, in a case connected to a viral video of a police arrest.
A judge gave Itamar Vardi a way to avoid a conviction though, by paying a $500 fine and performing 100 hours of community service.
It was Vardi’s attempt in December of 2016, to get a young boy to pick up trash that led to a confrontation with the boy’s mother Jacqueline Craig. When Craig called police to the scene, she and her daughters ended up under arrest.
Video of the arrest sparked protests and a federal civil rights lawsuit against Vardi and the city of Fort Worth.
Vardi, who testified in his own defense, said he had seen the boy throw trash in front of his yard. When the boy didn’t respond to a request to pick it up, he said he put his hand on his shoulder to get his attention.
Prosecutors, who charged Vardi with assault by contact, the lowest level of misdemeanor charge, convinced the jury that physical contact was offensive and provocative.
Lee Merritt, who is representing Craig in the civil rights case, said the lack of a conviction could affect the federal case depending on when they will be able to present evidence.
He said it was another example of the system letting Vardi off easy.
“For this to go away as if it never happened, what that does effectively is to say that his punishment will be lighter than Jacqueline Craigs,” Merritt said.