Fort Worth police drop charges on mom, daughter in Facebook live arrest

Posted at 4:17 PM, Jan 26, 2017

Fort Worth, Texas, police have dropped charges against a mother and daughter whose arrests were captured on Facebook Live video.

In addition, the officer who arrested them has been suspended for 10 days without pay, and a man was issued a citation for Assault by Contact, police said Thursday.

Jacqueline Craig, 46, and Brea Hymond, 19, had initially been charged with resisting arrest, search or transport and interfering with public duties. Those charges stemmed from an incident on December 21, when Fort Worth Police Officer William Martin responded to a report that a male neighbor had assaulted Craig’s 7-year-old son.

The announcement of the dropped charges came shortly after video that appears to be the officer’s body camera footage of the arrest was released by Craig’s attorneys at Merritt Law Firm.

Fort Worth police would not verify the authenticity of the body camera video to CNN or comment about any links it may have had to the charges being dropped.

Arrests posted on Facebook live

The arrests were captured on cellphone camera and posted to Facebook Live, causing Fort Worth police to review the incident and initiate an internal affairs investigation.

The video sparked accusations of racism and police misconduct. Craig and her children are black, while the officer and neighbor are white.

In the video, Craig tells the officer that her son said he was grabbed and choked by a neighbor, later identified as Itamar Vardi. Vardi said the boy had thrown litter on the ground, Craig says in the video.

“Why don’t you teach your son not to litter?” the officer asks Craig.

“He can’t prove to me that my son littered,” Craig says. “But it doesn’t matter if he did or didn’t, it doesn’t give him the right to put his hands on him.”

“Why not?” the officer responds.

The situation escalates, as Craig takes offense at the line of questioning and begins yelling at the officer.

“If you keep yelling at me, you’re gonna piss me off, and I’m gonna put you in jail,” he says.

“OK,” Craig says.

The officer then moves to arrest Craig, and family members move to intervene. The officer pulls out a stun gun and wrestles Craig and her daughter to the ground and puts them under arrest.

Police reaction

A day after the arrest, Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald acknowledged criticisms of how the officer handled the incident.

“Obviously, when we have an incident where there is some type of assertion that a juvenile has been inappropriately touched, injured, whatever, that should take precedence,” Fitzgerald said at a news conference.

“And for the 99.9% of our police officers in this police department, that would have handled that case differently, I thank them,” he said.

The Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office said it agreed with the decision to drop charges against Craig and Hymond.

“It is our opinion based on the facts that no felonies took place related to this incident,” the District Attorney’s Office said.

Martin has appealed his suspension, police said in the statement released Thursday.

“The Police Department recognizes we must work to repair the fractured relationships in our community,” Fort Worth police said. “We are committed to ensuring all Fort Worth police officers live up to restoring the trust you have lost in our department.”