Fort Worth arrest controversy is far from over following body camera leak

Fort Worth arrest controversy is far from over

FORT WORTH, Texas -- A meeting Tuesday night was likely the first time three Fort Worth police officers heavily involved in the fallout from a controversial arrest have been in the same room at the same time.

The Civil Service Commission meeting at police headquarters had only two agenda items, and they both dealt directly with the Jacqueline Craig case. 

Video of the incident sparked outrage throughout the community. 

"It's something that isn't going away, and I don't foresee it going away anytime soon," said attorney Terry Daffron, who represents Officer William Martin.

It was Martin who was involved in the initial confrontation, takedown, and arrest of Craig and her daughters in late December.

They had called police to report a neighbor who had put his hands on Craig's young child. Officer Martin ended up getting into a scuffle with the women and arrested them instead.

He was initially suspended, but not fired, a decision that hasn't sat well with the Craig family or some in Fort Worth's African American community.

It also didn't sit well, sources say, with some black officers in the department.

Body camera footage of Martin's was soon illegally leaked to the media, causing a further uproar.

Just last month, WFAA was first to report demotions and disciplinary action tied to that illegal leak.

On Tuesday one of the assistant chief involved, Abdul Pridgen, was at the commission meeting to ask for more time concerning his demotion proceedings. He has denied any wrongdoing. 

Fort Worth Chief Joel Fitzgerald, who recommended Pridgen be demoted all the way down to sergeant, was also in attendance.

Fitzgerald received heavy scrutiny for only suspending Martin, and some folks have wondered if city brass has been far more worried about the leak instead of the initial incident. 

Daffron is trying to get the commission to open up a separate inquiry into that leak as part of an effort to help Martin's case.

The commission decided to continue that motion until a further meeting. It also elected to give now Captain Pridgen another two months before deciding on a possible further demotion to sergeant, a substantial drop in rank. 

The Tarrant County District Attorney's Office says it still hasn't received a full report from Fort Worth police on the internal investigation into the leaked video. It's possible criminal charges could be pursued once that is reviewed, although Daffron doubts it will get that far.

"Criminal charges are not going to go forward," she said. "That is what we're hearing."

© 2017 WFAA-TV


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