A white Texas police officer has been suspended without pay for 10 days, but will not be fired, after an internal investigation of a cellphone video in which he is seen wrestling a black mother and her daughter to the ground and arresting them.
Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald announced the discipline at a news conference Monday.
GRAND JURY TO HEAR CASE OF TEXAS POLICEMAN -> http://www.ktxs.com/news/258113330
The incident happened last month after Jacqueline Craig complained that a neighbor choked her 7-year-old son for littering. In the video viewed millions of times on Facebook, the officer forces Craig and her daughter to the ground. He thrusts a stun gun into Craig's back. Craig and her daughters were arrested on charges including disorderly conduct.
Craig's attorney, who did not immediately return a call for comment, had demanded the officer be fired.
Original CNN story:
Fort Worth, Texas, police placed an officer on restricted duty Thursday after a Facebook video showed him arresting a woman who'd called police to complain that a neighbor had allegedly assaulted her young son.
Police say they're conducting an internal investigation of the incident, which also resulted in the woman's two teenage daughters being taken into custody. The man the woman accused of assaulting her son was not arrested, although police say they've taken a report and are investigating.
"We acknowledge that the initial appearance of the video may raise serious questions," a department statement said. "We ask that our investigators are given the time and opportunity to thoroughly examine the incident and to submit their findings."
The video shot in a residential neighborhood on Wednesday starts with the uniformed officer talking to a man standing on a sidewalk.
The officer approaches a woman identified as Jacqueline Craig, who tells the officer her young son complained the man, a neighbor, had grabbed and choked him. The man said the boy had thrown litter on the ground, Craig said.
"Why don't you teach your son not to litter?" the officer asks Craig.
"He can't prove to me that my son littered," Craig replied. "But it doesn't matter if he did or didn't, it doesn't give him the right to put his hands on him."
"Why not?" the officer said.
The video showed the argument escalating. The officer wrestled Craig and her daughter to the pavement and handcuffed them. He pulled out a stun gun but it was unclear whether he used it.
The officer placed those two females into a squad car. Someone screamed, "I just recorded everything!" but it's not clear if that was the camera operator. The officer moved toward the camera and said, "OK, you're going to jail, too." The video shook and stopped.
The video was shot by Craig's daughter, Brea Hymond, said Jasmine Crockett, a family lawyer. It was uploaded to social media by a relative. Crockett acknowledged they had a longer video of the incident but said they wouldn't release it at this time.
Police acknowledge criticism
The city's police chief on Friday acknowledged criticism of the handling of the incident.
"Obviously, when we have an incident where there is some type of assertion that a juvenile has been inappropriately touched, injured, whatever, that should take precedence," Chief Joel Fitzgerald said at a press conference. "And for the 99.9% of our police officers in this police department, that would have handled that case differently, I thank them."
Fitzgerald said several officers were sent out to investigate the alleged assault against the young boy, who was the subject of the original call to police. The chief referred to him as being 7, but the family lawyer told CNN he is 8.
"This is not the way we do things here," Fitzgerald said. "And if we find that all these actions, beyond what we have already seen are inconsistent with the way we expect our Fort Worth police officers to act, then the necessary actions will be taken. But an investigation will happen first."
Footage from a body camera will not be released because a juvenile was involved, he said.
The department has not released the name of the officer and said he declines comment on the incident.
Craig, 46, and Hymond, 19, were charged with resisting arrest, search or transport and interfering with public duties, Crocket said. They were released from jail Thursday.
Craig's 15-year-old daughter also was taken into custody but was released to an older sister, Crockett said. Her name is not being released because she's a minor.
Crockett said the man who allegedly assaulted the little boy lives two doors down from Craig.
He and the officer are white, Crockett said. Craig and her daughters are black.
Crockett said it all started when Craig's children came home from school crying and saying a man had choked their little brother. Crockett said Craig went to the neighbor and asked why he had not talked to her about the problem.
The man replied that he felt justified assaulting the boy because he littered in his yard, Craig said, according to Crockett.
"It was disturbing that the officer chose to ignore the assaultive act," Crockett said. "The officer instead wanted to ask her about her mothering skills."
Craig told CNN she didn't want to talk about the incident, but expressed thanks to people who watched the video and showed support.
"I just want to thank God right now," Craig said.
'Worst piece of police work'
Cedric Alexander, a municipal director of public safety in Georgia who was not involved in the Fort Worth case, watched the video and called the incident "the worst piece of police work I have ever seen."
Alexander said there is a "whole lot of protocol that is wrong" in the arrest, such as the officer not having backup at the scene.
It's "very dangerous" for officers to make arrests by themselves, Alexander said.
"He instigated that whole incident by being condescending to the woman about her son," Alexander said. "You can see it in his his posture and in his tone. That's what the people in the video are very sensitive to."
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