Craig family files federal lawsuit against Fort Worth saying police used excessive force

Jacqueline Craig case: Federal lawsuit claims excessive force

FORT WORTH, Texas -- A black family who says they were brutally arrested by a white police officer a year ago filed a federal lawsuit Friday alleging that their constitutional rights were violated during the arrest.

The lawsuit accuses the arresting officer, William Martin, of using excessive force and alleges that Fort Worth policymakers — specifically Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald, Mayor Betsy Price and the Fort Worth City Council — in general failed to supervise or discipline officers who used excessive force and failed to try to identify those officers.

"Defendant Martin consciously disregarded the rights of Plaintiffs, knowing that policymakers would approve or ratify his actions," the lawsuit states.

A video of the arrest that garnered more than 5 million views triggered protests in the city and calls for Martin and Fitzgerald to be fired.

The lawsuit asks for money damages but does not specify an amount.

Itamar Vardi, the neighbor who the family said assaulted Jacqueline Craig's 8-year-old son, is also named in the lawsuit. Vardi allegedly grabbed the boy by his arm and then by the back of the neck, pushing him to the ground and spraining his cervical spine, because the child refused to pick up some raisins he dropped in Vardi's yard, according to the lawsuit.

Police officials declined to comment on the lawsuit Friday.

Martin responded to Craig's call for police assistance. The lawsuit describes how she and the officer became involved in a heated exchange that ended up with Craig and her 15-year-old daughter being forced to the ground and placed in handcuffs, all while a Taser was pointed at them.

Read more from our media partners at the Star-Telegram

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