Fort Worth officer on restricted duty after videotaped arrests

ByDavid Warren & Claudia Lauer AP logo
Friday, December 23, 2016
Protests after controversial arrests in Fort Worth
Protests have erupted in Fort Worth after two controversial arrests were caught on camera.

FORT WORTH, TEXAS -- A white Texas police officer was placed on restricted duty Thursday while an internal investigation looks into a video showing the officer wrestling a black woman to the ground before arresting her and her two teenage daughters.

The Fort Worth officer, whose name hasn't been released, responded to a call for service after Jacqueline Craig argued with a man who she said had physically confronted her 7-year-old son for littering. In the cellphone video of the Wednesday incident, Craig can be heard telling the officer that the man had "grabbed and choked" her son.

The officer engages Craig in a conversation that quickly escalates. He asks why she hadn't taught her son not to litter. Craig says regardless of whether the boy littered, the man did not have the right to "put his hands on him." The officer says, "Why not?"

Dallas civil rights attorney S. Lee Merritt, who is representing Craig and her 19-year-old daughter, Brea Hymond, said at a news conference Thursday night that no report was filed on the alleged physical confrontation between the 7-year-old and the man. He said he plans to "request the prosecutor pursue charges" against the man.

Merritt added that he will look into the officer's training and background once he has been identified.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that Craig's 15-year-old daughter also was arrested. Fort Worth police in a statement Thursday confirmed there were three arrests.

Online records show Craig and Hymond were released from jail. The Star-Telegram reported that the 15-year-old was released, too.

A representative of the Craig family, a civil rights attorney and several activists spoke Thursday night from the steps of an cold courthouse. About 100 protesters listened from the adjacent lawn, some holding signs that read, "Moms Stick Together," ''Racism Is a Sin," and "Am I Next?"

"We know that had that been a black man grabbing the throat of a white boy that he'd be locked up right now," activist Cory Hughes shouted into the microphone.

Police said in their statement that they have reviewed the officer's body camera footage, but will not be releasing it or many other details because state law regarding internal investigations doesn't allow them to do so.

"We acknowledge that the initial appearance of the video may raise serious questions," the police statement said. "We ask that our investigators are given the time and opportunity to thoroughly examine this incident and to submit their findings."

The video, viewed more than 1.1 million times, was posted on Facebook by a woman identified by The Dallas Morning News as Craig's niece.

In the video, one of Craig's daughters tries to push her mother away, but the officer forces Craig and the teen to the ground. He points a stun gun into Craig's back and then at her daughter when she tries to approach.

The head of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas said in a statement Thursday that she's disappointed the officer is being given 48 hours to prepare a report on the incident.

"This incident and countless others like them demonstrate that for people of color, showing anything less than absolute deference to police officers - regardless of the circumstances - can have unjust and often tragic consequences," executive director Terri Burke said. "This fundamental injustice is also a threat to public safety. If a Black woman in Fort Worth can't call the cops after her son is allegedly choked by a neighbor without getting arrested, why would she ever call the cops again?"