Fort Worth

Task Force on Race Relations Meets For First Time Since Police Officer Indicted

A Fort Worth task force aimed at improving race relations in the city met for the first time on Monday since a police officer was indicted, accused of beating a man he was arresting and then lying about it.

The Task Force on Race and Culture Co-Chair Bob Ray Sanders said they did not know about the officer’s case with enough time to put it on the agenda so the task force was not able to speak about it in detail.

“The fact that we have a case now that goes back almost 18 months that we didn’t, at least I didn’t know, about and the circumstances are so incredible that the community has to be concerned, upset to be honest,” Sanders said.

Officer Romer was arrested last week and faces several charges including two felonies stemming from an arrest he made in 2016 at Harris Methodist Hospital where he had an off-duty security job.

A Grand Jury indicted Romer two weeks ago for allegedly hitting, choking and pushing 21-year-old Henry Newson while arresting him for criminal trespass and resisting arrest. Charges against Newson were later dropped. Romer is then accused of lying about the incident to police and the Grand Jury.

Since news of his arrest came to light, African American leaders have come forward expressing concerns and asking questions, including why the officer has not been fired and why it took so long to bring charges against him.

Sanders expressed many of the same concerns after Monday night's task force meeting.

"Number one, I want an answer as to why it took 18 months for this case to be investigated and resolved, to get to the district attorney's office. I want to know why there were sealed indictments. I want to know why we haven't seen any videos, because I understand there is a video," Sanders said. "I want to know why we didn't have a report from the police department when the police chief had promised us transparency."

Assistant Police Chief Ed Kraus was at Monday’s task force meeting and told NBC5 that legally the department couldn't share anything sooner because the indictment against Officer Romer was sealed. He added that Chief Joel Fitzgerald was on the phone himself with community activists sharing what he was legally allowed to.

Officer Romer has faced a Grand Jury before when he shot and killed 32-year-old Charal Thomas during a traffic stop in 2011. Police said Thomas dragged Romer from his car before Romer shot him.

The officer was not indicted in that case.

The 15-year-veteran is on restricted duty at Fort Worth P.D. at this time.

The task force is able to make recommendations to the city of Fort Worth regarding its policies and procedures.

NBC5's Alice Barr contributed to this report.

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