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White policeman suspended but not fired after video incident

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    People protest against the Fort Worth Police Department at the Tarrant County Courthouse in Fort Worth, Texas.

DALLAS >> A white Texas policeman was suspended without pay for 10 days, but will not be fired, after an incident in which he was caught on video wrestling a black woman and her daughter to the ground, Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald announced Monday.

Fitzgerald said the officer, identified by department officials as William Martin, violated policy, is sorry for his behavior and is eager to resume active duty at the end of the suspension. He said he has asked Martin, who will also be required to undergo additional training, to go back into the same community when the suspension ends “to repair relationships.”

“We are not sanctioning bad behavior … People make mistakes. We have levels of mistakes that every police officer makes,” Fitzgerald said. “Some things deserve punishment; some do not. Some deserve termination and some do not.”

The incident on Dec. 21 happened after Jacqueline Craig complained that a neighbor choked her 7-year-old son for allegedly littering in his yard. One of her daughters filmed the interactions between Craig and Martin.

In the video, Martin questions why Craig hadn’t taught her son not to litter and later asks why the neighbor shouldn’t have put his hands on her son. One of Craig’s daughters tries to push her mother away from Martin, but the officer forces Craig and the daughter to the ground. He thrusts a stun gun into Craig’s back and later points it at the daughter telling her to stay back.

He arrested Craig and her daughters on charges that include disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

The disciplinary report submitted to the Civil Service Commission, says Martin violated department policy by using excessive force and failing to thoroughly investigate. Other findings included neglect of duty, being discourteous to the public and conduct prejudicial to good order.

“Officer Martin violated state and departmental rules and policies by using excessive force, being disrespectful, and failing to thoroughly investigate a criminal offense,” Fitzgerald writes in the letter.

Terry S. Daffron, an attorney representing Martin, said he has appealed the suspension.

“Clearly, we do not agree with the findings contained in the Chief’s disciplinary letter,” she wrote in an emailed statement. “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.”

Craig’s attorney had demanded that Martin be fired and criminally charged, that all charges against the Craig family be dropped and that the neighbor be charged with assaulting her son. The attorney, S. Lee Merritt, did not immediately return a phone call Monday seeking comment, but he posted a video statement to Facebook Monday afternoon calling the suspension “intolerable” and describing it as a vacation.

“They are understandably in disbelief, shocked and upset,” Merritt said of the Craig family. “There are still charges pending against the Craig family.”

Fitzgerald said some members in the police chain of command did not agree with his disciplinary decision, but the ultimate decision was his to make. He referred questions about possible criminal charges to the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office.

A spokeswoman for the district attorney said the office will send the entire incident file including the department’s investigation to a grand jury to determine if criminal charges should be filed against any of the parties involved.

“The report on the Craigs, the officer and the neighbor will all come together before the grand jury,” spokeswoman Sam Jordan said. “They could find to press charges against all or no one.”

Jordan said the office will not make any recommendations to the grand jury about charges for any of the parties. She said there is no set date, but the grand jury that was just seated will hear the case in the “next few months.”

The video was viewed millions of times on Facebook, and letters and emails have been rolling into the department and to city officials asking that Martin be fired.

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    • Well, actually, you need to hire more black, female, Muslim, vegan, physically challenged and LGBTQ officers, most especially if you can find recruits meeting all these qualities simultaneously.

  • One has to laugh at the utter shibai coming out of Terry S. Daffron, an attorney representing Martin

    “Clearly, we do not agree with the findings contained in the Chief’s disciplinary letter,” she wrote in an emailed statement. “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.”

    I’m sure their school English teacher is wincing. Clearly Terry shows their failure to understand the English language. As in willfully being very verbose, using two words meaning the exact same, “fair & impartial.” Basically low class “attorneyspeak.” Laughable.

    Clearly Martin was caught on film acting like a total rookie. Their direct supervisor is directly accountable for the officer’s willful failure to be professional on the job. Supervisor also needs to be punished.

    Responsibility starts at the top. Clearly Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald is the weak link in this process. Willfully failing to ensure his officers are properly supervised on the job. The fact Martin acted like such a jerk was because he knew Chief Fitzgerald approved of it.

    Clearly Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald willfully failed to make it “Crystal Clear” to all his department the standards he expected of them.

    • Did you even see the entire video? As usual localguy, mouthing off your quack-professional opinion like some subject matter expert, you didn’t even see the entire clip where the officer stopped the situation from escalating as the 400lb baby-mama was going to plow all 400lbs of lard into his face. If anything, I would side with the PD on this one. Thanks to the entire video which will probably backfire on the allegations, I’ve come to the conclusion there was no injustice or any racism at play.

  • The neighbor who grabbed the kid littering on his property deserves some understanding. He was probably infuriated because the mother of the kid does never disciplines her son. And the cop was mad because the mother complained about the neighbor instead of punishing her son and then argued with the cop instead of apologizing. Throwing mother and daughter down was not right but is understandable when they did not follow his order to shut up.

  • Unless there’s another video out there, the entire 6 minute clip I saw didn’t look like he violated anyones rights and it looks like he was within reason to stop the escalating situation. They were about to fight and with the cop so he stopped the situation from escalating further. You gotta love it how the media immediately plays the race card by racially spewing all over the headlines it was a WHITE cop and from looking at the footage I don’t agree with the cop being violent towards anyone. Even to police chief, a black guy, realized the officer didn’t use excessive force given the entire situation and there wasn’t a single bit of racism involved in the situation. Complete propaganda B.S. racism at play here.

    The video I saw: https://youtu.be/So8hgQXLlQg?t=101

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