FORT WORTH - For the first time publicly, Chief Joel Fitzgerald analyzed two viral videos at the center of an investigation that has dogged the Fort Worth Police Department for months.
"We’re supposed to be better than that," he said. "We’re supposed to be professional."
The videos were played over and over Tuesday during Officer William Martin's hearing. He's appealing a 10-day suspension he received for his behavior in those videos. In the December 2016 incident, Martin shows up to investigate a neighborhood dispute, which a woman named Jacqueline Craig claimed a neighbor hurt her son.
But as seen in the videos, including a Facebook Live and the officer's lapel camera, things quickly unraveled when Martin became physical with Craig and her teenage daughters. He eventually arrested them without looking into the claims a child had been injured.
"There’s a cacophony of problems with what happened with Officer Martin," Fitzgerald said Tuesday.
But Martin's attorney, Terry Daffron, said Martin didn't know about the choking allegation when he arrived. She said he only knew it was a disturbance. She said analyzing his behavior through the video doesn't give the whole picture.
"They can stop it," she said. "They can rewind, they can sit back and play Monday morning quarterback and say I would’ve done this differently. Officers don’t have that luxury.
She added that while Martin feels he could've handled the situation differently, he doesn't believe he used excessive force. That is the reason he's appealing.
Daffron also called for text messages between two former top members of police administration to be released, indicating they'll show bias against Martin. Those men, Abdul Pridgen and Vance Keyes, were demoted for their alleged role in the leaking of Martin's lapel camera video.
"It’s the city’s position we cannot release an un-redacted version of the texts because we have the Attorney General’s opinion that states otherwise," said assistant city attorney Elizabeth Dierdorf.
The hearing officer will decide whether the 10-day suspension was warranted or not. The hearing is expected to take four days. Both William Martin and Jacqueline Craig are expected to testify.
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