FORT WORTH, Texas - The mayor of Fort Worth said she is unhappy with the police chief's decision to only suspend the officer who arrested a mother and her two daughters in a now-viral video.
During a Friday press conference, Mayor Betsy Price said she stands by Chief Joel Fitzgerald's decision even though she disagrees with it. She said the leaked body camera video and the officer's past changed everything for her.
The police chief, surrounded by the mayor and council members, says he's not backing down from his decision to only suspend Officer William Martin for 10 days and not fire him.
“All disciplinary action resulting from this encounter with the Craigs and all disciplinary actions in the city of Fort Worth Police Department fall on me,” he said.
The leaked video from Officer Martin's body camera surfaced this week and showed how the situation with Jacqueline Craig and her daughters unfolded. Some of Officer Martin's personnel file was also released. It showed another excessive force case reported against him in 2013.
Charges were dropped against Craig and her older daughter, and Officer Martin is on desk duty while waiting to go through sensitivity training. His 10-day suspension is already over.
Mayor Price, who recently announced she’s running for re-election, said she was appalled and heartbroken by the behavior of Officer Martin and apologized to the Craig family.
“This incident is deeply troubling. Really hurts to watch Ms. Craig and her daughters be so poorly treated. I am deeply sorry on behalf of this entire council for the behavior and the way the Craig family was treated,” Price said. “We do not tolerate discrimination, bullying or intimidation in Fort Worth. All of these were evidenced in Officer Martin’s behavior.”
The mayor said she doesn’t necessarily agree with the discipline the officer received but stands with Chief Fitzgerald's decision alone.
Community activist Dominique Alexander listened to the chief's comments and again says a suspension was not nearly enough.
“This officer clearly violated Ms. Craig's rights and her family,” he said. “And this officer should be terminated."
Activists and Craig’s attorneys have called Officer Martin's actions racist, though no racially charged language was used. City leaders have disagreed but say race relations are something the city will be working on.
We're in discussion with the National League of Cities and a couple of other groups who do frank conversations on race relations, community policing and community relations,” Price said.
The police department reiterated its anger for whoever leaked body camera video of the viral arrest and Officer Martin’s disciplinary file, again, calling its release illegal.
Chief Fitzgerald said he would have released it himself but couldn't because it shows a juvenile and would violate state law.
Mayor Price also said she welcomes a meeting with Craig to express her sorrow about the way they were treated.