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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Today officials with the Fort Worth Police Department announced that the officer seen in the viral video arrest of an African-American mother and her children will be suspended for 10 days.
At an afternoon news conference Chief Joel Fitzgerald said Officer William Martin would be suspended for his actions during the arrest.
After viewing a number of resources and gathering information Chief Fitzgerald said, “Looking at everything that we looked at we determined that there were violations. There were violations… neglect of duty would be one violation, discourtesy, we felt like there was some inappropriate contact that he had with two of the females.”
Apparently the Chief just made the decision about the suspension this morning. “I spoke with Officer Martin at a pre-disciplinary hearing on Friday,” he said. “Friday was the beginning of that hearing and the hearing concluded earlier this morning. At the conclusion of that hearing I decided upon a 10-day suspension without pay.”
The Chief said Officer Martin felt guilty and was sorry for what happened, but that he was ready to get back to work. Chief Fitzgerald said Officer Martin has a direct purpose when he returns to the job. “I challenged him, as I challenge many, and that was to get back into the neighborhood and to re-establish some of the relationships that we feel were damaged by what we saw on that video.”
The video, recorded just days before Christmas, sparked outrage from some people and fueled accusations of brutality and racism. In it, Jacqueline Craig and her 19-year-old daughter are arrested after calling police for help.
An argument with the officer began after Craig called police to report that her neighbor had choked her 7-year-old son for littering on his property.
In the video, the Craig explained to Officer Martin what happened. At some point the officer asked her why she didn’t teach her son not to litter. She responded by saying whether her child did or not, the man didn’t have the right to choke him.
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The argument escalated after Officer Martin asked her why the man didn’t have the right to do what he allegedly did. The officer took Craig to the ground, handcuffed her and pointed what appears to be a taser her 19-year old daughter, Brea Hymond.
Officer Martin was placed on restrictive duty while the FWPD Internal Affairs Unit conducted the investigation.
Days after the video went viral Fort Worth police told Twitter followers, “We saw what you saw. We heard what you heard… WE DO HEAR YOU.” They posted the following open letter on the department’s Twitter account.
Craig and Hymond still face a number of charges including Resisting Arrest and Disorderly Conduct. Lawyers representing the family had asked that the charges be dropped and that Officer Martin be fired and criminally charged. All of the cases, including that of the neighbor who allegedly grabbed the underage boy by the neck, are being sent to the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office for consideration.
Before the press conference announcing the suspension Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price addressed the media saying, “It’s important for me to tell the public, as well as all our other officers, that this is an isolated incident. It is not indicative of the way Fort Worth officers do business. We appreciate everybody having been calm and collected and we appreciate their paying attention and staying tuned.”
The Craig Family, their attorneys, and several Fort Worth pastors held a news conference Monday afternoon.
Attorney Lee Merritt said the Fort Worth Police Chief sent a clear message by offering a “10-day vacation” to an officer who arrested an upset mom.
Merritt said he’s livid about the suspension, saying it should have been a firing and the African-American community cannot rely on Fort Worth Police.
Rev. Kiev Tatum called the suspension a “miscarriage of justice” and said “people in our community do not believe they will get a fair shot from Fort Worth Police.”
Activists held protest outside Fort Worth City Hall Monday night.
The Fort Worth Police Officers Association sent out a letter to members regarding Officer Martin’s suspension.
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