Fort Worth Police Officer's Excessive-Force Ruling Appeal Hearing Ends

Testimony in appeal hearing reveals turmoil in department

Testimony has ended in the appeal of a Fort Worth police officer suspended for using excessive force against a woman and her daughters in a video-recorded arrest.

The Fort Worth Civil Service Commission concluded Friday its four-day hearing of Officer William Martin's appeal of his 10-day suspension.

Jacqueline Craig called police Dec. 21, 2016, to report that a neighbor choked her 7-year-old son for allegedly littering in his yard. In the video, Martin and Craig exchange heated words and Martin wrestles Craig and a daughter to the ground. He presses a stun gun into Craig's back before pointing it at her daughter and appears to kick her into his patrol car.

Testimony in the hearing on Friday revealed the turmoil that's been bubbling in that department for months.

The department's former spokesman said that command staff wouldn't let him release key information to the public, including that Craig's neighbor had called police to report a disturbance with the Craig family before Craig called saying her son had been choked.

Martin, who is white, has been criticized for speaking to the white neighbor before Craig and her family, who are black.

Sgt. Marc Povero said that Martin approached the neighbor first because he was the first to call 911. Povero believes that releasing that information would have refuted a "false narrative."

"That was my job to uphold the image of the police department," Povero said. "I felt an opportunity to do that with facts, not opinion, and I was not able to do that."

In his testimony this week, Martin admitted that he escalated the situation when he asked Craig why she didn't teach her son not to litter, instead of checking if the boy was OK when she said he'd been choked. Martin also questioned why littering didn't give Craig’s neighbor a right to touch her son.

Capt. Vance Keys also testified Friday. He's one of two former assistant/deputy chiefs demoted for allegedly leaking Martin's body camera video.

Martin's attorney has also accused Keys of interfering with the investigation, including trying to get Craig released from jail the first night after seeing the viral video but before all the facts were gathered.

Keys denies interfering with the case or leaking anything.

After up to four weeks of exchanging written briefs, a decision on the officer's appeal will then come within 30 days.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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