Body camera video from the controversial arrest of a mother and her daughters in Forth Worth, Texas, has leaked online after police refused to make it public.
The video shows Officer William Martin arresting 46-year-old Jacqueline Craig, her 19-year-old daughter, Brea Hymond and Craig’s 15-year-old daughter after the family called police for help. Craig had reported to police that a man had assaulted her son for littering. But after a combative Martin showed up on scene, it was Craig and her daughters who ended up in handcuffs again.
Video posted to Facebook by Craig’s family after the December 2016 incident showed Martin violently throwing the three women to the ground during their arrests, which were all made by him before any backup arrived.
In early January, Martin was found to have committed excessive force, along with several other violations, and was suspended for 10 days without pay.
Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald has said Martin’s actions were “rude,” but said the arrest was not caused by racism. Martin is white, while Craig and her daughters are black.
Fitzgerald said Martin is “sorry” and contrite” about the incident. He has returned to active duty while his 10-day suspension is appealed.
Martin will not be facing criminal charges. The Tarrant County Prosecutor’s Office said Thursday that Martin’s case will not be taken to the grand jury, saying no felonies were committed during the incident in their view. The cases against Craig and her daughters will also not be reviewed by a grand jury. Neither will the case against Craig’s neighbor.
Here’s what you need to know about Officer Martin and the incident:
1. Officer Martin Tells Craig to ‘Teach Your Son Not to Litter’ After She Says the Boy Was Choked by Their Neighbor
The incident occurred December 21 in the southwest side of Fort Worth.
The video begins with Officer Martin speaking with a white man who has been identified by the family as a the neighbor they say assaulted Jackie Craig’s young son for littering.
You can watch the full video below (warning — video contains graphic language and violence):
You can watch the original video recorded by Craig’s daughter below:
Martin then walks over to Craig and asks her “what’s going on with you?” She tells the officer the man “grabbed and choked” her son. She tells the officer the man grabbed the boy because he “defied” him. She says the man should have come to her instead of “putting your hands on my son.”
Martin then tells Craig, “why don’t you teach your son not to litter?”
She responds, “He can’t prove to me 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 then says, “why not?” As the conversation gets more heated, the officer asks Craig why she is yelling, and she says because “you pissed me off.”
He then tells her, “if you keep yelling at me you’re going to piss me off and I’m going to take you to jail.”
Craig’s daughter then walks toward her mother and the officer, appearing to try to calm her mother down, and the officer grabs her from behind. Craig then yells at the officer not to grab her, and the scene turns chaotic.
The video then cuts to Craig on the ground with the officer kneeling in her back, his Taser in his hand. He points the Taser at a young girl, and then also at Craig’s daughter, who scrambles away as the officer handcuffs Craig. He then goes and handcuffs Craig’s daughter, before taking them both to his SUV.
He then turns his attention to the woman recording the incident, and runs at her, knocking the camera out of her hand and telling her, “you’re going to jail too.”
“The officer physically, violently, and brutally escalated the situation,” Craig’s attorney, Lee Merritt, told WFAA-TV. “At that point the man should have been placed under arrest but instead the mother was questioned. She was questioned about why she did not teach her son not to litter.”
Martin wrote in his report, obtained by The Root, that it did not seem plausible that anyone would choke a child for littering:
It did not make sense to me that the (white male) would randomly choke a child for no reason or that anyone would choke a child for simply littering. The (white male’s) account of what happened sounded plausible. Due to my experience of handling many calls similar to this, I believed that the account of “choking” may have been exaggerated. I believed that it was improper for the (white male) to grab the child, but I had not yet determined that any offense of assault had occurred. I wonder why the child’s mother had not called for medical attention if a child had been injured in this way.
The white male seen in the video has not been identified. Prosecutors will presenta case against him to a grand jury.
Martin said in his statement that the man told him he did grab the boy.
“The W/M stated that a child had thrown a piece of trash in his yard. The W/M approached the child and grabbed his arm and told him to pick up the trash. When the child refused, the W/M grabbed the child by the back of the neck and demanded that the child pick up the trash,” Martin wrote in his report.
Martin also said in his report that he asked Craig why her son had littered because “I was irritated by the tone and level” of her voice” and “that a situation ove rlittering had gotten so out of hand.”
2. The Officer Was Found to Have Made ‘Multiple Errors in Judgement’ & the Excessive Force Case Will be Taken to a Grand Jury
Martin was suspended for 10 days for making “multiple errors in judgement,” the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports.
Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald called the punishment “significant” and said some members of his command staff didn’t think the incident warranted that long of a suspension.
Martin was suspended for violating department policy by using excessive force and failing to thoroughly investigate the original incident, officials said. Neglect of duty, being discourteous to the public and conduct prejudicial to good order were also found by investigators.
Fitzgerald told reporters Martin will have to undergo further training and said he has asked him to go back into the same community “to repair relationships.”
3. He Could Have Been Promoted to Corporal if He Had Not Appealed the 10-Day Sentence
Martin decided to appeal his 10-day suspension, his attorneys said. He could have accepted a seven-day suspension if he dropped his appeal, according to the Dallas Morning News. That deal also would have come with a promotion to corporal, the newspaper reports.
“One of the things that troubled Martin and myself was that the police department’s use-of-force expert did not find any use-of-force violations,” his attorney, Terry Daffron, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “By him taking the offer, especially with him facing a grand jury, the excessive-force allegation is something that could have been used against him.”
Daffron said her client “was apologetic about the rudeness. … He understood and appreciated that. But it was the excessive-force allegation that he could not agree with. In his mind he did not use excessive force. And it was made clear to the chief that was the deal-breaker and if that had been removed all this could have gone away.”
On Thursday, prosecutors announced that a grand jury will not be reviewing Martin’s case, and he will not be criminally charged.
4. Martin, Who Has Been an Officer for 10 Years, Was Accused of Excessive Force in 2013 When He Tasered 2 Boys at a Fort Worth School
Martin has been an officer with the Fort Worth Police Department for 10 years. Few details about his background, including any previous complaints against him, have been released by the department.
But an excessive force complaint was filed against him in 2013 after he used his Taser on two boys at a Fort Worth school, The Root reports. A copy of the report in that incident was obtained by The Root. Martin was not found to have committed any wrongdoing.
According to that report, which you can read here, the incident occurred in May 2013.
Martin and other officers were chasing the boys on the roof of Dunbar High School.
He said he used his Taser because he felt he “was at a tactical disadvantage, as I was winded from running and jumping fences, and encountering multiple subjects.”
5. Charges Against Craig & Her Daughters Have Been Dropped, Police Say
Craig’s family and her attorneys have called for Officer Martin to be fired and arrested. They are also demanding the charges be dropped against Craig and her daughters.
Meanwhile, the charges against Craig and her daughters were dropped on Thursday, after the video was released, the Fort Worth Police Department announced.
Itamar Vardi, the man accused of assaulting Craig’s son, has been issued a citation for assault by contact, police said.
The Tarrant County district attorney’s office had been reviewing the case against Craig and Haymond for possible presentation to a grand jury, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. They were charged with interference with public duties, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and failing to provide identification.
Craig’s 15-year-old daughter was also charged with interference with public duties in juvenile court.
Their attorney, Lee Merritt released the body camera video to the Associated Press on January 26, and it was posted to YouTube by New York Daily News’ columnist Shaun King.
Police have refused requests from the media to release the footage. Merritt told the Associated Press he obtained the video from a trusted source.
“Under the laws of the State of Texas, the attorneys for the Craig family are legally entitled to the complete investigative file, records and recordings of this incident and any officers involved. The FWPD have denied and/or delayed several requests from our office in providing this information,” Merritt wrote in an email to the AP.