Fort Worth Man Found Guilty of Assault in Trial Tied to Viral Arrest of Jacqueline Craig

A jury took one hour Wednesday to convict a Fort Worth man of assaulting an 8-year-old boy in an encounter that led to a string of events fueling racial tensions more than a year ago.

A municipal court judge then sentenced Itamar Vardi to a $569 fine, community service, and six months deferred adjudication. If he fulfills his requirements, there will be no conviction on his record.

Testifying in his own defense earlier Wednesday, Vardi admitted that he touched the child but said he didn't do it in an offensive manner.

Vardi said he was trying to be "instructive" after Aairinton Craig threw litter near his house on Dec. 21, 2016.

"I did place my hand on his shoulder, but not in an offensive manner," Vardi told the jury of four women and two men. "I was not trying to harass people or chase people."

Prosecutors asked if he knew whether the boy was offended.

"I can't really tell," Vardi said.

Vardi recalled how he called 911 when a group of the boy's family members showed up at his home afterwards.

Officer William Martin responded and arrested the boy's mother, Jacqueline Craig. A video recording of the arrest went viral, and Martin was suspended for 10 days.

The case also led to protests and racial tensions in the city.

Fort Worth police Lt. Wade Walls testified Wednesday there was no political pressure to cite Vardi for the misdemeanor crime of assault by contact. Similar to a traffic ticket, it is punishable by a fine but no jail time.

Vardi's attorney, Bobbie Edmonds, noted that he wasn't charged for more than a month -- after protests at City Hall and widespread criticism of the police department's response.

Walls explained the delay by testifying that police at first filed the case as a felony with the Tarrant County District Attorney's Office, which never accepted the case for prosecution.

Also, Vardi's neighbor, Gary Ryan, testified he heard screaming that day and went outside to see what the commotion was about. Ryan said Vardi seemed "stunned" that the boy's family members were confronting him and cussing at him.

That's when Vardi called 911, Ryan said.

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