Texas officer to appeal excessive-force ruling at hearing
DALLAS (AP) — A white Fort Worth police officer’s appeal of his 10-day suspension for using excessive force in the arrest of a black woman and her daughters is set for this week.
Officer William Martin’s suspension could be overturned, upheld or modified in the disciplinary hearing scheduled Tuesday, Fort Worth Civil Service Commission secretary Monique Schomp said.
Assistant City Manager Valerie Washington said an attorney for the city will argue Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald was within his authority to discipline Martin after the officer was seen on video wrestling Jacqueline Craig to the ground during a Dec. 21 confrontation.
Craig had called police to report that a neighbor choked her 7-year-old son for allegedly littering in his yard. One of Craig’s daughters took a video of the interaction between her mother and the officer, and posted it to social media.
In the video, the conversation between Martin and Craig becomes heated and Martin is seen wrestling Craig and one of her daughters to the ground. He presses a stun gun into Craig’s back before pointing it at her 15-year-old daughter, who later appears to be kicked into the police car.
Craig and her daughters were arrested on multiple charges, including disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. All charges later were dropped. An internal police investigation determined Martin used excessive force and violated department policy by being discourteous to the public and displaying conduct prejudicial to good order.
Martin, who returned to work after serving his punishment, rejected a reduced seven-day suspension to pursue his right to appeal.
“Just as anyone who has an accusation leveled against them, Officer Martin is due his opportunity in court,” said Charley Wilkison, executive director of the state’s largest police officers’ union, the Combined Law Enforcement Association of Texas. “That’s what this hearing is about, his opportunity to clear his name and continue on with his profession.”
Craig’s attorney has called for Martin to be fired and charged with a crime.
Weeks after the incident, Martin’s body camera footage and personal file were leaked to the media, and the resulting internal police investigation left two high-ranking police officials demoted.
Both officials, Abdul Pridgen and Vance Keyes, have denied involvement. Keyes has filed a formal appeal with the Civil Service Commission, while Pridgen has asked for a 60-day delay before continuing the appeal process with the commission, Schomp said.
Once the hearing is complete, attorneys may exchange written briefs for up to four weeks before submitting them to the hearing examiner. A decision on the appeal will follow within 30 days of the briefs’ submission.