Fort Worth

Jacqueline Craig files damage claims with Fort Worth over police incident

Jacqueline Craig at the Bob Bolen Public Safety Complex in May.
Jacqueline Craig at the Bob Bolen Public Safety Complex in May.

Jacqueline Craig, her two daughters and her son have filed claims for damages against the city of Fort Worth over their December arrest that went viral on social media, but the forms don’t list a dollar amount sought for injuries, mental anguish, anxiety and depression.

Jasmine Crockett, the Dallas-based attorney representing the Craigs, said Thursday she’s hoping to resolve the claims without going to court. She said she plans to file a much more detailed “demand packet” by mid-August to support their claims.

Putting a number on the mental anguish the Craigs have suffered is difficult, Crockett said. Because they are minors, Craig filed on behalf of her daughter, Jacques, and her son. Brea Hymond, her other daughter, filed her own claim. Craig and the two minor children say they are living “in fear of being watched and harassed” as a result of the arrest.

“I don’t have a number relative to the mental fallout. It has been huge,” Crockett said. “Everybody forgets other people were harmed,” she said, referring to Craig’s children. She said each individual is “entitled to separate recourse.”

jasmine crockett
Attorneys Lee Merritt, left, and Jasmine Crockett are representing the Craig family. Max Faulkner

The claims, which contain brief narratives of the events of Dec. 21, were filed with the city on June 6. Crockett said citing a dollar amount would have “boxed” them in should the case go to court and before a jury. Craig and Brea Hymond signed the claims forms on April 23. Filing a claim is typically done before the city is sued for damages.

A list of damage claims filed with the city is included in the weekly packets provided to staff, the mayor and City Council members. The Craigs’ claims were not included in the June 13 or June 20 packets. The council has been on recess since. The Star-Telegram obtained the claims through a public information request.

On each claim, the women, who are black, briefly describe in narrative form what happened when officer William Martin, who is white, was dispatched to their home on Rock Garden Trail. Craig called police to resolve an alleged assault of her son “due to my son littering and not picking the trash up when he was asked to,” according to the claim.

Brea Hymond, who recorded the incident, said on her claim that she “watched my family be treated like criminals. I watched him assault my mother as well as my teenage minor sister. My family is permanently damaged from the actions of the Fort Worth Police Department.”

Craig wrote on her form, “My children and I were assaulted, falsely imprisoned, subject to extreme distress and overall constitutionally violated by Officer Martin as I attempted to resolve a matter involving my son and an adult neighbor. Since this incident my family is in fear of being watched and harassed due to the aggressive and unprofessional behavior of Officer Martin.”

The women and Craig’s son said they were not treated at a hospital or are currently being treated by a physician, according to the claims. In a January press conference, Crockett said Craig’s son had to be taken to an emergency room and was given pain medication.

Martin has served an unpaid 10-days suspension. He appealed the suspension and is awaiting a decision from an independent arbitrator following several days of testimony that addressed whether Martin used excessive force in his arrest of the women.

The case has sparked an outcry from the community, including some who have called for Martin and Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald to be fired. The City Council recently set up a task force on race and culture stemming from issues arising from the case.

Lawsuits filed

In the last decade, the city has settled with only three people before they filed a lawsuit, including two connected to the Rainbow Lounge incident in 2009 totaling $440,000. In one case, Chad Gibson was awarded $400,000 after suffering a head injury during a controversial bar inspection by Fort Worth police and state agents.

In another 2009 incident, the city awarded $50,000 for injuries without going to court.

During that same 10-year period, Fort Worth has been sued 65 times in federal court on civil rights cases that are police-related and have involved charges of excess force and bad behavior, for example.

Of those, the city reached out-of-court settlements in 10 cases and won 44, while another 10 cases are still pending, according to city records. In one case, a lawsuit was filed but the city was never served.

The largest settlement, $2 million, came in the 2009 death of Michael Jacobs, a mentally-challenged man who died in a Taser-related incident.

Plaintiffs have also been awarded $203,401 in settlements, and in one case the city paid $69,000 in attorney fees.

One of the pending cases is with Kathy Waller, whose husband, Jerry Waller, 72, was fatally shot by police in the garage of his Woodhaven home in 2014. Waller was shot multiple times by police who were investigating a burglary call at the wrong house. The officers in the case were not indicted.

The most recent case was filed by Robby Trevino, the father of a 25-year-old Springtown woman who alleges police did not take her to the hospital when she said she was having a seizure.

This story contains information from the Star-Telegram archives.