Police Chief Imposes Discipline of Fort Worth Officer
FT. WORTH, Texas – A police officer from Fort Worth has been disciplined for misconduct stemming from an incident that was seen by millions of people on social media prior to Christmas.
The white police officer wrestled a black woman to the ground when communication broke down. The officer was handling a call regarding a complaint about her 7-year-old son littering.
While many charged racism, the Fort Worth chief of police cautioned “there’s a difference between rude and racism.”
The internal affairs investigation has been concluded and the findings were not favorable to the officer.
A spokesman for the Fort Worth Police Department identified the officer as William Martin, reported Wave3News. He is being disciplined for neglect of duty, being discourteous to the public, conduct prejudicial to good order and violation of department rules including excessive use of force and failing to thoroughly investigate, read the report.
Chief Joel Fitzgerald proposed a 10-day suspension Monday. In a letter to the city’s Civil Service Commission detailing the investigation, the chief wrote that Martin had violated several state and city policies.
Terry S. Daffron, an attorney representing Martin, says he does not agree with the findings and will appeal the suspension.
S. Lee Merritt, the attorney representing the woman is unhappy with the punishment. He believes the officer should be terminated and charged with a crime.
Sam Jordan, a spokeswoman for the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office, says the case will be presented to a grand jury in its entirety, but a date had not been set as of Monday. She says the grand jury will then decide whether the officer, the mother and her daughters or the neighbor involved in the altercation that drew police will face any criminal charges.
The Fort Worth Police Department issued the following press release regarding the incident:
Fort Worth Police Chief Fitzgerald provided an update on the Rock Garden Trail Incident involving officer Martin that was captured on video on December 21.
Since the incident, the Fort Worth Police Department has conducted and completed an internal administrative investigation for several allegations of misconduct of FWPD Officer Martin. The administrative investigation yielded 5 sustained allegations that violated department policy. Today, Officer Martin was issued a ten day suspension without pay based on the sustained allegations in addition to completing supplementary training.
In the subsequent investigation, interviews were conducted of witnesses and the involved parties including a forensic interview of the juvenile at the center of the incident. As a sworn FWPD Officer, Officer Martin has received all due processes and protections permitted to him as a tenured veteran officer with no prior discipline issues. This entire situation will be referred to the Tarrant County District Attorney’s office for the equitable review of any criminal matters that occurred during the aforementioned incident.
FWPD and city leaders stand united regarding the review of the matter and look forward to the procedural justice permitted under the law. We are confident that this incident is not reflective of the day to day interactions that the FWPD has in relation to citizens of our city. Additionally, FWPD will work to restore any trust and credibility that was lost during the viral encounter and reinforce prior groundwork laid within our community to an atmosphere conducive to strong working relations with our citizens. The Fort Worth Police Department is committed to taking whatever steps necessary to enhance the partnership with the community and the citizens we serve.
City leaders will reserve other comments until after the District Attorney reviews the criminal cases associated with this incident.
(Photo source Chief Fitzgerald’s LinkedIn page)