Fort Worth police drop charges against mother, daughters

The Fort Worth Police Department has released new information about an officer who tackled a mother to the ground and arrested her and her daughters last month.                

An activist released video from the officer's body camera and Fort Worth Police Department has dropped all charges against the three women.

On December 21, Fort Worth Police Officer William Martin responded to a call that a 7-year-old boy had been choked by a neighbor in the Rock Garden neighborhood, but the conversation between the boy’s mother and the officer quickly turned in an unexpected direction.

As Craig was arguing with Martin one of her daughters stepped in front of her to turn Craig away. At that point, Martin pushed the daughter and threw Craig to the ground. He cuffed both women. They were charged with resisting arrest or transport and interfering with public duties.

The arrests were recorded by Craig’s daughter and broadcast on Facebook live until the moment she was also arrested for interfering.

Body camera footage of the arrests clarifies some of what happened that night and the Fort Worth Police Department has since dropped all charges against Craig and her daughters.

“So they finally let these charges go after I don't know how many marches, after we showed up to City Council earlier this week, they finally decided, even though there was clear evidence that no offenses had occurred. Well, we saw the videos the very first day they came out, they finally decided to let the charges go,” said Craig’s attorney Jasmine Crockett.

As for Officer Martin and the neighbor who allegedly choked the seven year old, Fort Worth PD released this statement:

"We have consulted with the District Attorney's office and we have decided to withdraw all matters related to the arrest of Ms. Jacqueline Craig, and Ms. Brea Hymond. Mr. Itamar Vardi has been issued a citation for Assault by Contact as a result of his actions in the initial incident.

Officer Martin has been disciplined with a ten-day suspension with no pay, and Chief Fitzgerald will not be returning him to his original assignment in the Rock Garden neighborhood at this time. Officer Martin has chosen to exercise his right to appeal this disciplinary action and a hearing will be set for a later date."

“They finally said they were deciding to bring charges against the neighbor and that is what has me frankly infuriated because they decided to charge the neighbor with assault by contact. To put that into context, assault by contact is nothing more than a class c ticket, what you get for speeding down the highway. It's not punishable by any type of jail time. The most you can get is a $500 fine,” Crockett said.

Craig's lawyers pointed out that not only were the arrests uncalled for, but the tactics used were unnecessary. They point out that officer Martin holds one woman's cuffed arms up in a submission hold and kicks the 15 year old who is entering the police car.

And even though the charges against Craig and her daughters were dropped, and her neighbor has been charged, Craig’s attorneys said it's not enough.

“The fact that they failed to fire an officer who's been now exposed as someone who has continually engaged in excessive force is a failure,” said Lee Merritt, another one of Craig’s attorneys.
Craig's attorneys said they will be filing a federal lawsuit against the city of Fort Worth for the way this case was handled.

In addition to the concerns already mentioned, Craig’s attorneys said the officer falsified documents and the department tried to cover up his previous misconduct.

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