A cop with the Fort Worth Police Department who was involved in a videotaped incident that quickly went viral just before Christmas has been suspended for 10-days without pay, according to Chief Joel Fitzgerald.
Officer William Martin was involved in an incident that quickly escalated into the arrest of a mother and her teenage daughters. A majority of the incident was captured on cellphone video by a bystander. The incident also reportedly led to widespread community outrage at that cop’s actions in the video.
According to reports back in December, the incident began when one of the women who ended up getting arrested called the cops to report that her neighbor choked her 7-year-old child after accusing the kid of dropping trash in his yard.
Things escalated quickly and the next thing you know Officer Martin is seen on the video at several points seemingly wrestling several women to the ground.
When the smoke cleared, Jacqueline Craig and her 19-year-old and 15-year-old daughters were all under arrest.
After video of the incident went viral, there was some speculation that an internal affairs investigation into Officer Martin, along with a final report and decision could take over a year to complete.
However, Chief Fitzgerald evidently wanted the investigation completed in a more timely fashion and he seems to have achieved his goal — completing the investigation in about three-weeks, all amid the Holiday Season.
“As you all know, the incident captured national attention,” Chief Fitzgerald said at a press conference on Monday. “We handled it in short order. We really left no stone unturned.”
The results of the investigation found Officer Martin actions were inappropriate, but none of his actions in the video warranted firing. Instead, the Chief found Officer Martin “made a few bad decisions” and said a “10-day suspension without pay is a significant punishment.”
Officer Martin was found to have violated five departmental policies by the Commission.
So, as soon as the 10-days are up, Officer Martin will be back on the street and that has the Craig family a bit concerned.
Ms. Craig’s attorney, Lee Merrit, told a local station that he is “understandably . . . livid about the decision to give a 10-day vacation to an officer who was guilty of gross misconduct.” Furthermore, Merritt promised to “continue to pursue justice from the district attorney’s office.”
Criminal charges could still be filed against the officer as well, and the Commission promised to refer the matter to the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office
The Fort Worth Police Department provided LawNewz.com with a copy of Officer Martin’s Charge Letter issued by the Commission, accompanied by a lengthly statement that reads, in part:
Since the incident, the Fort Worth Police Department has conducted and completed an internal administrative investigation for several allegations of misconduct of FWPD Officer Martin.
The administrative investigation yielded 5 sustained allegations that violated department policy.
Today, Officer Martin was issued a ten day suspension without pay based on the sustained allegations in addition to completing supplementary training.
In the subsequent investigation, interviews were conducted of witnesses and the involved parties including a forensic interview of the juvenile at the center of the incident. As a sworn FWPD Officer, Officer Martin has received all due processes and protections permitted to him as a tenured veteran officer with no prior discipline issues. This entire situation will be referred to the Tarrant County District Attorney’s office for the equitable review of any criminal matters that occurred during the aforementioned incident.
FWPD and city leaders stand united regarding the review of the matter and look forward to the procedural justice permitted under the law. We are confident that this incident is not reflective of the day to day interactions that the FWPD has in relation to citizens of our city.
Additionally, FWPD will work to restore any trust and credibility that was lost during the viral encounter and reinforce prior groundwork laid within our community to an atmosphere conducive to strong working relations with our citizens. The Fort Worth Police Department is committed to taking whatever steps necessary to enhance the partnership with the community and the citizens we serve.
City leaders will reserve other comments until after the District Attorney reviews the criminal cases associated with this incident.
READ the Commission’s Charge Letter re: Officer Martin:
[image via screengrab]