ARLINGTON, Texas - An Arlington mom said Thursday that Arlington police offered to drop charges against her two sons if she gave them cellphone video she shot of the incident, where she claims an officer needlessly pushed the eldest son to the ground.
Latasha Nelson said two police officers told her that they would give back her cellphone, which she says was illegally seized during the July 3 incident, after she surrendered the video. Her attorney, Kim T. Cole, said the officers insinuated that the charges against Nelson's sons would be dropped if she agreed.
The Next Generation Action Network, a Dallas-based group that lobbies against police violence, posted the video on its Facebook page Wednesday on behalf of Nelson. A spokesman for the group, Dominique Alexander, said Nelson's phone was backed up to the cloud, which enabled her to let the group post the video.
Cole, who is also an attorney for NGAN, said the family wants the arresting officer, Chad Haning, to be fired and charged with official oppression. It also wants the charges to be dropped against the two boys and for any property to be returned, including Nelson's phone.
"This video is full of violations of police policy. ... They also unlawfully seized Ms. Nelson's telephone. It is not illegal to film a police officer in this state," Cole said, adding the officer threatened to arrest her if she didn't turn over the phone.
"We've seen this repeatedly, not just locally but across the country, these young black men gunned down by police with impunity. ... She was terrified, and yes, she was rightfully emotional."
The video on Facebook is captioned “ANOTHER TRAYVON?! A frantic mother watches in horror as Arlington Police Department assault and arrest her two teenage sons.”
It shows a 14-year-old named Trayvon being arrested on July 3 for burglary. The teen’s mother can be heard telling officers that she believes he is innocent. An officer asks her not to interfere with the investigation and she replies, “yes, sir.”
The mother then asks the officer for his name and contact information, which he provides. But when she asks him where he’s taking her son the officer tells her, “You’ve become uncooperative so I’m not going to give you that.”
The situation escalates with the mother getting more and more upset as the officers try to leave with her son in the back of a squad car.
“Do y'all just constantly have to kill our kids for y'all to just sit here and think that they life is valuable,” she argues.
As the officer calls for backup the teen’s 16-year-old brother suddenly comes up behind him. The video shows the officer restraining the 16-year-old while his mother curses.
“Y'all think that y'all can get away with just doing this to our kids,” the mother yells.
“Come on, Mama. Come on,” the 16-year-old says as he is handcuffed.
“Based upon absolutely no evidence whatsoever, the 14-year-old was charged with burglary of a habitation and the 16-year-old was charged with interfering with official police duties,” NGAN said in the caption of the video.
NGAN said the mother had to go all around Tarrant County trying to find her boys. "She was finally able to track them down and get them released after eight exhausting hours," the activists said.
Arlington police released a statement that says the department is aware of the video of the juvenile being arrested for burglary of a motor vehicle.
"After reviewing the video, there are many questions that will require a thorough investigation," Arlington PD said in a Thursday afternoon statement. "As with any allegation of misconduct we take this seriously. We want to maintain our position of transparency with our community by doing a complete and thorough review."
Arlington PD said it will speak with the family seen in the video and any officers involved.
The incident has been sent to internal affairs for a formal investigation, but Ofc. Haning will remain on duty.
Law Enforcement Expert Catherine Torrez says if the Arlington officer would have extended more courtesy to the mother by letting her know where her sons were being taken, the confrontation may have never happened.
"An officer should always tell a parent where they're taking their child if the parent is there or as soon as a parent finds out they've been taken into custody. You need to find the parent and let them know," Torrez said. "It's not that it's wrong. It's just that it's not right."
NGAN’s video has hundreds of comments with varying opinions. Some sympathize with the mother’s desire to know where her son was being taken. Many don’t agree with the abuse claims.
“I don’t really see where he abused the child at all. Could he have been nicer in explaining to the mother? Yes definitely. She also could have done a better job of asking for information. I don’t see anything here that makes me think this was racial in any way,” Billy Buckles said.
“All I see is a mom looking for trouble. Disrespectful. If she had not been filming and provocating and had a decent conversation with the cops they probably would have taken an incident report and left,” Matt Gregg said.
“The video I saw showed a paranoid mouthy parent "causing" turmoil making the situation worse. The jail can't be that hard to find. Give em his name. The only one showing sense is the 14-year-old! Her comments about "just killing our kids" was out of place and unfounded,” Charlotte Boeker-Burris said.
“She has every right as a parent to know where her child is being detained at. This officer or detective should of never got made because she asked her child to remain silent till appointed an attorney,” Ronald Stephen Davis said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.