We never thought we’d be dealing with this again, and yet here we are. Nearly a year to the day later.
A black woman who called 911 in August with a domestic dispute was arrested for talking back to Fort Worth police officers.
Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald shared the bodycam video of the arrest late Monday.
The woman’s arms were cuffed behind her back and she was tasered in the process. She was later released, and charges were dropped. A deputy – Sgt. Kenneth Pierce – has been fired for his role in the altercation.
Thursday marks one year since Jacqueline Craig and her Fort Worth family were arrested by Officer William Martin. Craig’s family recorded a video of the arrest, and a community-wide conversation about racial bias ensued.
The conversation has continued. The 23-person Race and Culture Task Force is supposed to spend a year listening to community members and then make recommendations to the Fort Worth City Council on how we can achieve racial and cultural equity.
Monday’s video reminds how far we have to go.
Pierce was “impatient, initiated an unnecessary physical confrontation and then ordered a rookie police officer to tase the woman,” according to a release from Fort Worth police.
It was a bad decision to take her into custody. The decision to then taser her may have been the best option among those available due to the escalation – but it still doesn’t make it a good one.
We wonder if the officer in charge – Pierce - thought his behavior was OK. Did he report the altercation to a superior, or was it discovered only during a mandatory use-of-force review? And if he did think the behavior was OK, is our training sufficient?
We also question the severity of the punishment Pierce received. He was fired. That is inconsistent with the punishment Martin received in the wake of the Craig case. Martin was suspended for just 10 days, and some would argue that altercation was worse.
While the police chief proactively released the video, we wonder why he did that with a press release at 7:43 p.m. on a Monday night.
We’re pleased Fitzgerald released the video voluntarily. We want him to provide additional details if they exist in this case and to be transparent with others. We still have a lot of questions.
We don’t know for sure whether either of these cases would have been handled differently if the suspects had not been black and the officers had not been white. We think the Fort Worth police department must do more to train officers to de-escalate a confrontation not make it worse.
Let’s get to the bottom of why some Fort Worth officers are cuffing and tasing people who don’t appear to pose a physical threat.
We hope the Race and Culture Task Force will hold up this overly aggressive arrest as another example of what shouldn’t happen.