Attorneys release bodycam footage of Fort Worth arrest
Dallas — Bodycam video 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 the 15-year-old girl into a police car.
The footage was provided to The Associated Press on Thursday 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. The attorneys also provided internal affairs documents showing the officer had been disciplined for a previous use of force complaint when he allegedly used a Taser on a black teenager to end a foot chase.
Police spokeswoman Tamara Valle said the department could not authenticate the video or the disciplinary report at this time.
Also Thursday, Fort Worth police said they had dropped all charges against Craig and her 19-year-old daughter, Brea Hymond, who had recorded the interactions between Craig and Officer William Martin in a separate video they posted on Facebook in December. Attorneys for Craig said at a Thursday afternoon news conference that charges also had been dropped against Craig’s 15-year-old daughter, Jacques Craig.
The daughters were charged with resisting arrest and interfering with public duties. Jacqueline Craig was charged with resisting arrest, failure to identify herself as a fugitive and three outstanding traffic warrants.
The AP doesn’t typically identify juveniles accused of crimes, but the family and the teen have spoken out publicly.
Police also said Thursday that the neighbor, Itamar Vardi, has been issued a citation for misdemeanor assault by contact related to Craig’s son. Vardi did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Jacqueline Craig’s attorneys said they had hoped for more serious charges against the neighbor. They called the misdemeanor ticket “a slap in the face,” noting the boy visited the emergency room and was given medication after the injury prevented him from sleeping.
The bodycam footage provided by Craig’s attorneys also depicts Martin pushing Hymond’s arms, which were handcuffed, above her head from behind when she refuses to answer his question. It also shows him pushing another young female who approaches the police car. Those two incidents along with the use of his foot to push the 15-year-old into the police car were cited in a letter from Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald to the city’s Civil Service Commission explaining the finding that Martin had used excessive force in the situation and asking for his suspension.
The Fort Worth Police Department has denied media requests to release Martin’s bodycam footage.
Martin has returned to work after serving a 10-day suspension that he’s appealing with the city’s Civil Service Commission.
Craig’s attorneys said the family would like to see the officer fired and criminally charged.
The internal affairs documents Craig’s attorneys provided to The Associated Press said Martin was one of a handful of officers to respond to a trespassing complaint at a high school. A foot chase ensued and Martin fired his Taser twice, striking one of two black teenagers in the back as he fled. The report said Martin was ordered to undergo coaching with a supervisor for violating department policy that prohibits officers from deploying weapons to stop a foot chase, particularly if a suspect is not armed or posing a threat.
A phone message seeking comment from Martin’s attorney was not immediately returned Thursday.
Valle, the police spokeswoman, said the department does not release complaints against officers that do not result in a suspension or firing.
Fitzgerald’s report about the December incident said Martin violated department policy by failing to thoroughly investigate, neglecting his duty, and being discourteous to the public and conduct prejudicial to good order.
The video also shows 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.”
Police said Thursday that Martin would not return to the same neighborhood where the incident occurred. That followed comments Fitzgerald made earlier this month saying Martin would return to the same community “to repair relationships.”
“The Police Department recognizes we must work to repair the fractured relationships in our community. 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.
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