A white police officer whose behavior during his arrest of a black mother and her two teen-aged daughters was questioned has been been suspended without pay for 10 days, official announced Monday.
An appeal of the decision was filed for Fort Worth police officer William Martin as the announcement was being made.
Martin was “contrite” and “sorry” about the incident, police Chief Joel Fitzgerald said a press conference Monday afternoon, calling the suspension a “significant punishment.”
Martin had responded to a potential assault call at a residence in southwest Fort Worth on the afternoon of Dec. 21 and the situation quickly escalated. One of the daughters recorded the incident on her phone.
Both Mayor Betsy Price and Fitzgerald said the situation was an isolated incident.
Fitzgerald said various videos were reviewed during the investigation. “We left no stone unturned,” he said.
The chief said the decision to suspended Martin for 10 days was his, and some members of the department’s command staff disagreed, he should have been more lenient.
“But the buck stops here,” Fitzgerald said. He said Martin showed neglect of duty and discourtesy.
He said the officer will undergo training before he returns to duty. His 10-day suspension will begin Tuesday and he will return to patrol work in the same neighborhood where last month’s incident occurred.
Martin has appealed the suspension, his attorney, Terry Daffron, said in a statement.
“Clearly, we do not agree with the findings contained in the Chief’s disciplinary letter,” Daffron’s statement said. “We look forward to a fair, neutral, and impartial hearing process, free from political pressure and influence, one where Officer Martin will finally have a ‘voice’ and all of the evidence will be considered by the arbitrator.”
Lee Merritt — the attorney for Jacqueline Craig, the woman who was arrested in the incident last month — said in a Facebook video Monday that Craig and her family were “in disbelief, shocked and upset” at the officer’s 10-day suspension.
Merritt described the punishment as a “vacation.”
“The police department has failed the city of Fort Worth and the people of Fort Worth,” Merritt said in the video. “They sent a clear message out to the African-American community and the world community. And I don’t care how many black faces they put in uniform, they put a message out that our lives are less valuable.”
‘Just trying to protect my mom’
Jacqueline Craig, 46, had called police to report that she suspected that her neighbor, an adult male, had choked her 7-year-old son because he dropped some raisins in his yard and refused to pick them up when asked.
Craig’s 19-year-old daughter, Brea Hymond, was videoing the discussion between Martin and Craig when things got a little testy.
Martin: “Why don’t you teach your son not to litter?”
Craig: “He can’t prove that my son littered. But it doesn’t matter if he did or didn’t, it doesn’t give him the right to put his hands on him.”
Martin: “Why not?”
As the conversation between the officer and Craig heated up, Craig’s 15-year-daughter, Jacques Craig, stepped in between the two and the officer grabbed her from behind. The video shows Martin being peppered with profane language from women who had gathered at the scene. At one point, Martin pulled and pointed his Taser at Craig and Jacques Craig. He also wrestled them both to the ground.
Jacques Craig told the Star-Telegram that she “was just trying to protect my mom.”
Eventually, Craig and her two daughters were placed in police vehicles and taken away from the house in the 7400 block of Rock Garden Trial.
Craig and Hymond, were arrested and Jacques Craig was taken to a juvenile detention center.
Craig’s niece, Porsha Craver, posted an edited version of the profanity-laced video of the arrest that went viral, sparking the ire of hundreds of viewers, some who called for the officer to be fired.
Craver’s video had been viewed more than 3.3 million times as of 9 p.m. Saturday.
A longer 30-minute version of the video was released later.
Case forwarded to DA’s office
The case against Craig and her older daughter has been forwarded to the Tarrant County district attorney’s office for review and presentation to the grand jury, according to police.
Craig and her older daughter face charges of interference with a public duty, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and failing to provide identification, police said. Jacques Craig has been accused of interference with public duty, police said.
The case involving the resident accused by the family of assaulting Craig’s 7-year-old son will also be presented before a grand jury, police said.