Arlington mom says police pressured her to give up video of sons’ arrests

Video: Arlington mom films arrests of her two teenage sons

An Arlington mother says police have asked her to surrender video of the arrest. (Video from Next Generation Action Network)
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An Arlington mother says police have asked her to surrender video of the arrest. (Video from Next Generation Action Network)

An Arlington mom says police pressured her to give up video of her teenage sons’ arrests last week, indicating they could drop charges against the boys in exchange for the video.

The Next Generation Action Network, a civil rights activist group, posted video of the arrests to Facebook late Wednesday.

The clip — which shows Latasha Nelson’s 14-year-old son being arrested July 3 on a burglary of a vehicle charge and her 16-year-old son being arrested for interfering — was about four minutes long and did not show the officer offering to drop the charges.

In a statement Thursday, Arlington 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.”

The department is conducting an Internal Affairs investigation into the incident.

“As with any allegation of misconduct, we take this seriously,” the police statement said.

Nelson, in a news conference Thursday afternoon, said detectives at the police department have called her several times over the last week, including on Wednesday, asking her to surrender video she recorded of the incident.

“It wasn’t a clear, ‘Hey you give us this, we’ll give you that’ ” Nelson’s attorney, Kim Cole, said at the news conference. “But it was certainly [Nelson’s] impression that was what it was, because they were adamant they wanted this video.”

Officers on the day of the incident were called to the Addison Park Apartments in southwest Arlington, where witnesses had reported that two teenagers were breaking into a vehicle, the police statement said.

Officers located a teenager who matched the witnesses’ description and detained him.

At that point, the video, which had about 130,000 views on Facebook by Thursday afternoon, begins and shows the officer walking Nelson’s 14-year-old son toward a patrol car.

During the walk, Nelson questions the arrest and tells the officer she believes her son is innocent.

“If I can’t get a tone of cooperation, then I’m going to have to ask you to get uninvolved,” the officer told Nelson.

After putting the teen in the patrol car, Nelson asked where the officer is taking her son.

“You’ve become uncooperative, so I’m not going to do that,” the officer told her. “I’m looking for a reason to release him. I’m not finding that.”

The officer then walks away and Nelson follows him. After they begin talking again, the officer reaches for his radio and asks for backup.

“I have a mother out here who is interfering with an investigation,” the officer says into the radio.

The officer then turns around and pushes Nelson’s 16-year-old son to the ground by the back of his head. The officer rolls the teen onto his stomach and handcuffs him.

When Nelson says she’s recording the incident, the officer replies, “Outstanding.”

The video ended, and police took Nelson’s cellphone, Next Action Generation Network leader said at a news conference Thursday.

Nelson said she was terrified that the officer would not tell her where he was taking her two sons. She said she had to call 911 after their arrests, which connected her to a police sergeant who found out where the teens were being held in custody. The process took about an hour, Nelson said.

“I am a black woman in America and I love my kids,” Nelson said. “Do you know how hard it is to have four sons and know what can happen to them out in the world? It didn’t have to escalate. I just needed to know where he was going ... If you don’t have the heart to know the fear that I went through knowing they were going to take my sons somewhere ... that’s scary.”

Dominique Alexander called for the officer’s firing.

“We want justice,” he said at the news conference.

Alexander was a vocal critic of Fort Worth police after the viral arrests of Jacqueline Craig and her two daughters in December. Alexander led a protest in downtown Fort Worth after Craig’s arrest and called for the firing of officer William Martin, who was suspended 10 days for the incident.

The Craig arrest, like the Arlington incident, involved a white officer and black residents and also came to light in a Facebook video, which went viral and led to widespread criticism of the Fort Worth department.