An allegation that a white Texas state trooper sexually assaulted a black woman last weekend in Waxahachie went viral on social media.
But after the Department of Public Safety published the full body-cam video of the incident, Sherita Dixon-Cole's attorney, Lee Merritt, apologized online and said that the trooper in question had been "falsely accused."
Cole, 37, of Grapevine, was pulled over at about 1:30 a.m. Sunday for a traffic violation and arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. She was transported to the Ellis County Jail and charged, according to the DPS.
During the stop, Cole alleged, Officer Daniel Hubbard offered her special treatment for sex, then sexually assaulted her, according to a news release tweeted Monday by Merritt.
The allegations, which the DPS denied Sunday evening, were amplified on social media by Merritt and social activist and journalist Shaun King, who wrote that Cole had been "kidnapped and raped" in posts that were widely shared and re-tweeted from his Facebook and Twitter accounts. He also alleged in an article he wrote for BlackAmericaWeb.com that Hubbard threatened to kill her fiancé if she said anything.
A Google search Monday morning for "Shaun King Sherita Cole" returned nearly 150,000 results.
King has since deleted his social media posts about the incident. He did not immediately respond to email and text requests for comment.
Merritt, a civil rights attorney who left up tweets about Cole's allegations after the video was released, did not immediately respond to a request for a comment or indicate whether he was still representing Cole.
The DPS released the full body-cam video, which is nearly two hours long, shortly before midnight on Tuesday and said the department was "appalled that anyone would make such a despicable, slanderous and false accusation against a peace officer who willingly risks his life every day to protect and serve the public." After its release, Merritt apologized.
"The body camera footage released directly conflicts with the accounts reported to my office," Merritt wrote on Facebook. "There is no readily apparent evidence of tampering with the footage. Officer Daniel Hubbard seems to comport himself professionally during the duration of the traffic stop and arrest."
Merritt wrote that without further evidence, Hubbard "should be cleared of any wrongdoing."
"It is deeply troubling when innocent parties are falsely accused and I am truly sorry for any trouble these claims may have caused Officer Hubbard and his family," Merritt wrote. "I take full responsibility for amplifying these claims to the point of national concern."
DPS spokesman Lonny Haschel said, "The video shows absolutely no evidence to support the accusations against the trooper during the DWI arrest of the suspect."
He said he had no information as to whether Hubbard plans any legal action regarding the allegations made against him. He didn't know whether Merritt had dropped Cole as a client or if she'd taken back her allegations.
By Wednesday morning, Cole appeared to have hidden or deleted her Facebook page. Attempts to reach her online and via phone were unsuccessful.