DALLAS (AP) — Dozens of Fort Worth and Arlington pastors say the recent arrest of a black mother and her two teenage daughters by a white officer was racist despite other characterizations from city officials.
The pastors gathered on Christmas Eve at Beth Eden Baptist Church to ask the black community to remain calm while an internal investigation is completed. Several pastors said the community still believes the police chief, mayor and other city officials want to work with the pastors and the black community, but they have lost faith in the ability of the officer, who hasn't been named and is on paid restricted duty, to police the community.
"We do not trust him to carry a gun nor does he have our permission to come in our community and enact deadly force," B.R. Daniels Jr., pastor of First Greater New Hope Baptist Church told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "He has lost credibility in our community."
The arrest was filmed on a cellphone and a video was posted to Facebook late Wednesday. It had been viewed millions of times as of Sunday.
City officials held a news conference Friday to address the video. During it, Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald, who is black, said: "I can't call it racism but I noticed in the video that the officer was rude. There's a difference between rude and racism."
City officials also have asked the community to remain calm during the investigation.
Police were called to an argument between Jacqueline Craig and a neighbor who Craig said choked her 7-year-old son after the neighbor said he littered and refused to pick it up. The video shows a quickly escalating argument between Craig and the unnamed officer.
The officer asks Craig why she didn't teach her son not to litter. Craig answers that whether he littered or not, the neighbor didn't have the right to put his hands on her son. The officer can be heard asking, "Why not?"
He is seen wrestling Craig to the ground after one of her daughters tries to step between the officer and Craig. He points a Taser into Craig's back and, after cuffing her, points the Taser at the daughter who tried to intervene and arrests her. Police said the daughter filming the incident was arrested, too.
Craig's attorney, S. Lee Merritt, has asked that charges be dropped against the woman. He also wants the officer to be fired and prosecuted.
Merritt said Saturday on Twitter that he had helped Craig file an initial report on the alleged choking incident, and hoped to press charges against the neighbor.