A Fort Worth police officer and the woman whom he arrested – in an encounter that was posted on social media and quickly went viral last December – testified Wednesday in a hearing for the officer's appeal of his suspension for excessive force.
It was the first time Officer William Martin has spoken publicly since the arrest and subsequent 10-day suspension.
Martin sat just a few feet away from Jacqueline Craig, watching the viral video and reliving the December day that changed both their lives.
Craig's testimony was very emotional. She often looked straight at Martin, and at one point she said that a dog would have gotten more respect than her family did that day.
"I felt hurt. I felt like I was being judged without you even knowing me," Craig said.
Craig said she felt from the start that Martin didn't care about her accusations that a neighbor had choked her seven-year-old son for littering in his yard.
"I felt worthless as a parent to know that I called somebody as help for my son and I didn't get it," Craig said in her testimony. "My children were there, and it was to the point that I couldn't protect my kids. And that's my job to protect them, and he took that away from me."
Martin stared straight ahead while Craig spoke. But he did apologize during his testimony.
"I would apologize for the way I talked to them," Martin said. "The fact that it seemed like I didn't care."
In his account, Martin said he was responding to a call of a dispute between neighbors with no mention that Craig's son had been choked. When he arrived on scene, he said he didn't believe someone had been choked because he didn't see the child and no one had called for medical attention.
But Martin admitted to being rude and escalating the situation when he asked Craig why she didn't teach her son not to litter, instead of checking if the boy was OK.
"I regret my choice of words," Martin said. "I shouldn't have asked her that."
Martin said he was shoved in the scuffle that followed, and he does not believe he used excessive force in two instances. One was when he pushed a girl who was blocking his squad car door.
"You see that my hand is on her upper chest, and as I pushed her, her neck leans forward, so it appears that I'm pushing her in the neck," Martin said.
Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald testified Tuesday that he thought Martin "chopped" the girl in the throat.
The second instance, Martin said, was when he raised Craig's older daughter's arms over her head when she wasn't answering his questions.
"Because she's still not under control," Martin testified. "She's still trying to walk away. She's still trying to put herself in a position of advantage."
Martin has already served a 10-day suspension. He said this appeal is not about getting back lost days, but is about clearing his record and his name.