Fort Worth reaches settlement with woman slammed to ground during arrest

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) — The City of Fort Worth and a woman whose 2016 arrest led to questions over police brutality have reached a settlement, according to the woman’s lawyer.

Fort Worth agreed to pay Jacqueline Craig $150,000 to settle the matter, said Lee Merritt, the attorney for the Craig family. The agreement will go to the city council for approval in October. 

The bodycam video from Officer William Martin went viral in December 2016, when it showed him pushing Craig to the ground and arresting her, and then also arresting her teenage daughter.

Craig was the one who had called police for help that day, after a neighbor had grabbed her 7-year-old son by the neck when he saw the boy drop something on the sidewalk near the man’s home.

In 2018, a federal judge dismissed most of the claims against Martin, but did not agree he had qualified immunity, which shields law enforcement from liability unless they clearly violated a law or constitutional right.

This month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed that, finding that Martin didn’t use excessive force, and should still have qualified immunity in the case.

The ruling left Craig with little to stand on if the case were to continue to trial. Attorney Lee Merritt said Friday the outcome was disappointing, but he credited the city for continuing to negotiate with the family, rather than put them through a trial, calling it a show of good faith. He also praised local pastor Michael Bell, for his work between the family and the city as the negotiations progressed.

Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker described the settlement as the right decision to provide closure to the case.

“As a city, we will remain committed to fostering greater communication and understanding and continuing the progress we’ve made in addressing the needs of Fort Worth,” Parker wrote in a statement.

The city is not admitting any fault in the settlement, and there are no other requirements in it.

Although the settlement is between the city and the Craig family, Martin’s attorney, Kenneth East, pointed out the court decisions also leave no viable claims against the officer.

“The Court of Appeals held that Officer Martin did not use any excessive force as to any plaintiff. At this point, all of the claims brought by all of the plaintiffs against Officer Martin have been dismissed, either by the District Court or by the Court of Appeals,” East wrote in an email.

Merritt said he would likely file to dismiss claims against Martin as well in the next week.

Leave a Comment