Police Tried to Charge an Innocent Family, Until Video Proved Cops Were the Attackers

Erik de la Garza | Courthouse News Service

Fort Worth police dropped charges against a black mother and her teenage daughters just after the family’s attorney released an officer’s bodycam footage of their controversial December arrests.

The 12-minute, 25-second video, released to the Associated Press on Thursday, shows Officer William Martin appearing to kick a 15-year-old girl into his police car after a combative interaction with her mother.

The incident began when Jacqueline Craig reported to police that a white neighbor had allegedly choked her 7-year-old son for littering in his yard.

In a previously released Facebook video, Martin is heard asking Craig why she had not taught her son not to litter. Craig replied that even if her son had littered, it was not okay for the man to touch her son.

The officer then said that if she “pissed” him off, he would take her to jail. Craig’s 15-year-old daughter is shown stepping between the two and Martin is shown pushing Craig to the ground and placing his stun gun at her back while her children scream at the officer. He then arrested Craig, the 15-year-old and a 19-year-old daughter recording the incident.

“Police cameras ain’t real. You’re on live, you’re on live,” the woman is heard saying in both the officer’s bodycam footage and the viral video posted on Facebook on Dec. 21.

Craig, 46, was arrested for failure to identify and for warrants related to unpaid traffic tickets. Her daughter had been arrested for interfering with a police officer.

“Here’s the deal. When somebody’s under arrest, if anybody interferes, they go to jail too,” Martin is heard saying to them.

“Well, I don’t know this. I’m 15 years old,” Craig’s daughter replied.

Fort Worth police on Thursday announced they would not pursue criminal charges against the family. The department also said that the neighbor, Itamar Vardi, has been issued a citation for assault by contact for his actions in the incident.

“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 department said in a statement.

Police had denied previous media requests for the bodycam footage.

Martin is back on duty after serving a 10-day suspension without pay, but will be reassigned from the Rock Garden neighborhood, police said.

He is appealing the action to the city’s civil service commission. A disciplinary report submitted to the commission said the officer violated department policy for using excessive force and failing to thoroughly investigate, according to the Associated Press. Martin was also cited for neglect of duty, being discourteous to the public, and conduct prejudicial to good order.

Published by Courthouse News Service.

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