The ongoing deliberation over whether to pursue a criminal case against a black family and white Police officer finally came to a close several weeks ago.
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 also cleared by the district attorney’s office, though did face a 10-day suspension without pay.
The event stemmed from an incident involving Craig’s seven-year-old son, and their neighbor Itamar Vardi.
Though while Mr. Vardi was charged with misdemeanor assault, that’s where his story stops. The real issue digs into the implicit racial bias some say police show towards black Communities.
Currently, both white and black leaders in the Fort Worth community are lending their opinions, with none looking favorably upon the police chief.
Our take? It’s complicated.
Racial Bias vs. Police Work
Whether we like it or not, police stereotype communities and people in an effort to identify high crime groups.
That’s not likely to change. Officers who go into high crime areas will associate those communities with danger.
What we need to strive towards, is pushing the belief that not all members of those high crime communities are criminals.
In fact, it’s more likely that the crime stems from specific groups of people. Drug dealers, gang members, etc.; not the people who are trying to raise families.
This family-centric thinking is where the issue with Officer Martin’s conduct become apparent.
Video evidence (the best kind) shows that Martin had no reason to escalate things to the extent they reached.
It’s blatant excessive use of force, though luckily nothing that turned life-threatening.
It leaves the police department and the DA’s office in a difficult predicament. Do they start a criminal case against both parties? Charge just Martin (the family did escalate back)?
How To Charge This Criminal Case
In our opinion, the DA’s office handled this well. Now, before that upsets some people (and it will), hear us out.
Police relations with predominantly black communities need work. There’s no doubt about that.
Officers need to work together with these communities, not alienate their members.
Though it’s also important to remember that community members often escalate things through disrespectful behavior that can border on criminal.
So when the DA’s office is looking who to charge, they have to account for more than just who committed what crime.
Is charging the officer or family members really going to help improve community relations? Probably not. A criminal case doesn’t inspire cooperation.
If the officer faces charges it gives these communities ammunition to paint all police in a negative light.
Likewise, if only the family faces charges. Now the rest of the community sees further perceived injustice. It also reinforces to police that these communities are dangerous.
Now, obviously you need to charge both citizens and police officers who commit violent felonies, but that’s not what’s going on here.
We’re seeing an incident gone wrong where either side could have deescalated, but didn’t. With that in mind, the DA’s office dropping all charges seems like a wise decision.
Hopefully, both sides can use it as a learning experience and help bridge the gap between police and black communities.
It’s far past time to come together.
This post first appeared on The Dallas Lawyer, please read the originial post: here