The question about whether criminal charges would be pursued against a black family regarding an incident with a white Fort Worth police officer gone viral on social media finally came to a close. Tarrant County has decided to drop charges against the family.
Jacqueline Craig and her daughter Brea Hymond were initially charged with resisting arrest, search, or transport, and interfering with public duties. Officer William Martin was “cleared” by the district attorney’s office, though he did face a 10-day suspension without pay from his department.
The event stemmed from an incident involving Craig’s seven-year-old son, and their neighbor Itamar Vardi.
Though Mr. Vardi was charged with misdemeanor assault, that’s where his story stops. The real story stems from racial bias that police have towards black communities and even outright white supremacist activity among law enforcement.
Currently, both white and black leaders in the Fort Worth community are lending their opinions, with none looking favorably upon the police chief.
Racial Bias in Police Work
Police stereotype communities and people in their line of work. That’s not likely to change. This bias against entire communities is where the issue with Officer Martin’s conduct become apparent.
Video evidence shows that Martin had no reason to escalate things to the extent that he did. It’s blatant excessive use of force, though luckily nothing no one died or was seriously injured. Instead of “protecting and serving,” Martin assaulted and made an unjustified arrest.
The Tarrant County District Attorney’s Response
The District Attorney’s office examined whether criminal charges should be brought against the police officer, the family members or all parties. Apparently they decided to call it a wash.
Officers say they want to work together with the community, not alienate community members. But officers like Martin don’t seem to take this prerogative seriously. Instead, a bad situation was made worse and amplified through social media.
The Tarrant County District Attorney could have decided to prosecute the officer, but they chose not to. Of course the District Attorney does not want to alienate the police force which it relies on to make arrests. But what message does this send?
Police officers have to walk into highly-charged emotional situations. Tempers are flaring – that’s why police are called in the first place. They are supposed to be trained professionals who can de-escalate situations, but when they fail, who holds them accountable? The Tarrant County DA has chosen not to be that institution.
A License to Kill, a License to Harass – Are Police are Above the Law?
Police are protected by regular prosecutions for Assault – Public Servant. Everyday citizens are only protected by one three century-old document, the Constitution. Law enforcement and district attorney’s offices usually don’t do a good job policing the police, and ordinary people are forced to hire expensive private attorneys after bad policing takes place. And they have to be quite lucky for a judge to grant them relief.
All too frequently we learn that ordinary people get the short end of the stick, and police get to walk away free to harass the next group of people that they don’t like.
Hopefully things will change soon. But don’t hold your breath.
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