NBC

FW Mayor Calls for ‘Systemic Changes' to Police Department

The mayor of Fort Worth is calling for systemic changes to the police department, while the police chief admits he could have made a better choice in the viral video arrest of a mother and her two teenage daughters.

Mayor Betsy Price and Chief Joel Fitzgerald spoke with reporters Friday afternoon and Price had some strong words. She said she saw discrimination, bullying and intimidation in the behavior of the officer in that video.

She also said she didn't “necessarily agree” with Fitzgerald's decision to give him a 10-day suspension. But she is standing by the chief and both leaders are pushing to move forward together.

Fitzgerald took the blame for not deciding sooner to drop resisting arrest charges against Jacqueline Craig and her daughters.

"I've had time to really reflect on this. I had tremendous community input. I can't say that I made the best initial decision," said Chief Fitzgerald.

But he said that decision made public on Friday and the choice to cite Craig's neighbor with assault by contact, for grabbing her 8-year-old son by the neck, had nothing to do with the officer's bodycam video and new documents that were leaked out the same day.

A North Texas police chief says he is standing by a 10-day suspension given to a white officer who was filmed wrestling a black mother and her daughter to the ground during a December incident.

The chief had already told city council of his plans Tuesday night.

"That alternative was something I went through with the DA's office and it was a viable alternative to give justice to the family," Fitzgerald said.

But the family is still not satisfied, calling for harsher punishments for the neighbor and for Officer William Martin.

Price seemed to agree on Friday.

"I don't say that I necessarily agree with the discipline of Officer Martin, but I will say that was Chief Fitzgerald's decision alone and I do stand with our chief," said Price.

She reinforced her outrage over the incident.

"You all know I'm a mother and a grandmother and I tried to think how I would feel if I were handcuffed and watched my 15-year-old daughter handcuffed,” said Price. “This incident is deeply troubling. It really hurts to watch Miss Craig and her daughters be so poorly treated."

The mayor and chief are now both pledging to work hard to rebuild trust in a difficult time for the city.

Mayor Price and Fort Worth Police Chief address the Rock Garden Trail incident in news conference.

"We need to promote healing and move forward as a community, as a city, as Fort Worth," said Fitzgerald.

The chief also said the department was investigating who leaked the bodycam video and documents this week, calling the leak illegal.

NBC 5 has learned investigators have seized the computers of several officers, some of them high-ranking.

Meanwhile, Price said she's working with the mayors of other cities that have been through similar incidents to look for systemic changes in keeping with 21st century policing.

Contact Us