Fort Worth clergy members criticize police department's handling of arrest video

A group of clergymen are demanding Fort Worth Police immediately suspend an officer at the heart of a viral video that has increased racial tensions in the city.

Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald and other city officials expressed dismay over the video during a Saturday news conference. The video appears to show a white police officer scolding a black mother, who was trying to report that a neighbor had choked her 7-year-old son for littering. As things escalated, the video shows the officer pull a taser and arrest the mother, and her teenage daughters. The officer, still unidentified, has been placed on restricted duty while the department investigates.

A group called the Circle of Clergy says restricted duty is not enough, and the department should also be investigating the neighbor, who allegedly choked the 7-year-old, sparking the incident. Pastor K.P. Tatum is one of them.

"This is the season of peace of earth and goodwill to men, but this officer thought it was a time to target attack and prey on a mom who was just concerned about her baby boy."

The Circle of Clergy met privately with Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price and other city leaders Friday night then aired their concerns during a Saturday afternoon news conference.

"Let's not make this about the mother of those who were arrested. This should be about the gentleman who choked that young man and the response of the professional officer who did not do his job well,” said Pastor Tatum.

"Rude is cutting in line at the amusement park. Rude is driving slow in the fast lane. The conduct of this Fort Worth Police officer was obviously racist,” said member Dr. Michael Bell.

The pastors and clergymen say they are willing to give the Police Chief time to conduct an investigation but they are angry that the officer involved has not been suspended.

"Yes we trust out police chief. Yes we trust our elected officials. But I want it to be said loudly and plainly we do not trust him. He has lost trustability in our community,” said Pastor B.R. Daniels about the *officer involved.

“We want people to exercise their constitutional right. What we do not support is violence of any kind. Against the officer, against that man, against anyone in that community. Especially that mom and those children," said Pastor Tatum.

*A previous version of this story incorrectly stated Pastor Daniels was referring to the Police Chief.

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