The two teenagers arrested in a controversial incident in Arlington last week are still facing charges, which could include assaulting a police officer for the 16-year-old boy involved, their attorney said Friday after meeting with police Chief Will Johnson.
Attorney Kim Cole, who is representing the teens, ages 14 and 16, and their mother, Latasha Nelson, called the assault allegation “laughable.”
Cole said the 16-year-old merely brushed up against the officer during the incident, which happened July 3 at the Addison Park Apartments in southwest Arlington.
Randall Moore, the attorney representing officer Chad Haning, said the 16-year-old “chest-bumped [Haning] in an aggressive manner,” prompting Haning to arrest him.
Nelson videoed the arrests and the video was posted on Facebook Wednesday night by the Next Generation Action Network, an activist group.
Nelson said Thursday that police detectives pressured her to give up video of the arrests, indicating they might drop charges against her sons if she did.
The two boys are not being identified because they are juveniles.
In a statement Friday, police said Nelson filed an online complaint with the department Tuesday but did not allege that an offer was made in exchange for the video. No evidence has been found to support the allegation, the statement said, but the department was still investigating,
The statement said police were also still investigating whether Nelson was properly notified about where Haning was taking her sons after they were in custody.
Police were responding to a report of vehicle burglary at the apartment complex near U.S. 287 and Sublett Road, and located a teen — Nelson’s 14-year-old son — who matched the description of one of the suspects.
Haning, took the teen into custody and put him in a patrol car, according to Nelson’s video.
Then, as Nelson and the officer continued to talk, the officer turned and pushed Nelson’s 16-year-old son to the ground and handcuffed him, accusing him of interfering with an arrest.
‘He had a Bible in his backpack’
Moore said his client did nothing wrong.
“The only thing I see is a 16-year-old and his mother interfering with a lawful investigation being conducted by a police officer,” Moore said.
Moore said the 14-year-old was detained by Haning because he “matched the suspect description exactly.”
“My guy’s job isn’t to decide if [the 14-year-old] did or didn’t do it,” Moore said. “His job is decide if there’s probable cause to make an arrest. Then it’s up to the criminal justice system to decide whether he did it or not.”
Cole and Nelson also denied that the 14-year-old son had anything to do with the alleged burglary.
“He had a Bible in his backpack,” Cole said. “He didn’t have any tools that would be used to break into a vehicle. [Haning] stopped him on the basis of his race and the fact that he was a boy with a backpack.”
As for the allegation that police offered to drop charges in exchange for the video, Johnson “didn’t seem like he was going to put much emphasis” on it, Cole said.
‘We take this very seriously’
In a statement on Thursday, police said the video “shows only a portion of what took place and a thorough investigation is being conducted to obtain all the facts regarding the incident.”
“As with any allegation of misconduct, we take this very seriously,” the statement said.
Haning will remain on duty during the investigation.
Dominique Alexander, the leader of the Next Generation Action Network, has called for Haning’s firing and plans to lead a protest at Arlington City Hall at 7 p.m. Monday.
Alexander was a vocal critic of Fort Worth police after the viral arrests of Jacqueline Craig and her two daughters in December, another high-profile incident involving a white officer and black residents.
The Craig arrest, like the Arlington incident, came to light in a Facebook video, which went viral and led to widespread criticism of the Fort Worth department.