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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Outrage. Apologies. Promises of police department reform.
All of that has happened since body-cam video was leaked to the public yesterday. It shows a Fort Worth officer arresting a mother and daughter who called police for help.
Jacqueline Craig called police because a neighbor allegedly grabbed her son by the neck.
“I’m the last stop as far as punishment and decision making is concerned for a police officer in the city of Fort Worth. And that was the case in this situation involving Officer Martin,” Chief Joel Fitzgerald said.
Fitzgerald said department policy limited what disciplinary actions he could take against officer Martin and he didn’t see firing him as an option.
“In fairness to the family and a fairness to the police officer and his rights, I had to make a decision not only within our matrix but what was applicable to what we saw in the audio and video and how we would punish consistently in the police department. And I made that decision. Ten days is the decision I made, alone,” said Fitzgerald.
“I don’t say I necessarily agree with the discipline of Officer Martin,” said Mayor Betsy Price. “But I will say is that discipline was Chief Fitzgerald’s decision alone and I do stand with our chief.”
The chief said it will be a long time before Officer Martin is back on patrol as he undergoes a series of training courses.
Fitzgerald said he would have shared the leaked body-cam video with the public early in the investigation — but he couldn’t because a juvenile was involved.
“We’ve released body cam footage in the past,” he said. “And if I could’ve legally done so I would’ve done so in this case. But I couldn’t. and the release of that video was indeed illegal.”
Mayor Price is directing the city manager and police chief to begin what she called systemic changes in how officers are trained.
“We’re talking about proactive systemic changes,” she said. “This is a different climate that we all live and work in including our police officers then it’s ever been before. We’re talking about learning proactive techniques. Maybe reviewing things as we go ahead just on a random basis.”
And she extended an invitation to the Craig family.
“I have reached out to Mrs. Craig and her daughters and hope and hope that they will accept a meeting with me so I can personally share with them my feelings of anger and sympathy.”
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