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“Fort Worth activist injured, arrested while filming police.”

That’s the headline from the Dallas Morning News, and it’s only one of several blame-shifting stories going nationwide from North Texas.

Internal Affairs and an outside monitor are investigating the male Fort Worth police officer who brutalized a cop watcher while arresting her recently in the West 7th corridor.

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The department has reassigned the unnamed officer out of patrol pending the outcome of the investigations. The department will only say he’s been with the force for seven years.

Fort Worth police also recently released body-cam footage and a look from a nearby surveillance camera.

The arresting officer inflicted a disjointed shoulder and elbow, assorted lacerations, and a concussion on Carolyn Rodriguez, 60, and after she received medical care, police booked her on suspicion of interfering with public duties, resisting arrest, and evading arrest.

The videos have gone viral, and a majority of the local daily media are largely downplaying the officer’s evident use of excessive force.

WFAA says, “The video shows Rodriguez falling to the ground.”

Not being thrown by a police officer — as she clearly was — but “falling” as if it were her fault. (It wasn’t.)

NBC 5 says, “Another officer steps between them and, after a short time, appears to attempt to arrest the woman before she hits the ground.”

Not “before the arresting officer grabs Rodriguez by the arm and whips her down to the pavement” but before Rodriguez and the ground meet.

The same NBC report goes on to say that as the officer “puts her arm behind her back,” Rodriguez “falls to the ground.”

Not “as the officer … forces her face-first into the concrete” but as Rodriguez and the ground meet, again.

Fox 4 News implies that unseen forces were at play. “Surveillance and body camera video show Rodriguez being swung to the ground.”

“Swung to the ground” by whom? By the arresting officer? By gravity? By the Holy Ghost?

The Star-Telegram fared the best, saying without equivocation that the cop slammed Rodridguez down, both in the headline (“slams”) and the lede (“slam”).

All of this passive voice from the rest means the threat of litigation has neutered daily reporters’, editors’, producers’, and publishers’ ability to say the truth, because in the video, it’s pretty clear who manhandles whom and that Rodriguez and the unforgiving asphalt beneath her did not just bump into each other like two old chums at Kroger.

Police brutality has only ramped up nationwide over the past 30 years, with the most killings in more than a decade occurring in 2023. The number of officers held accountable for using excessive force is comically low. The nonprofit Mapping Police Violence reports that from 2013 to 2022, 98% of all police killings did not result in charges against the implicated officers.

The pro-cop argument is that force is almost always required to effect arrests. Force like the kind applied to Rodriguez is different. Such responses are necessary only when arresting officers feel their lives are threatened, and based on the assorted videos of Rodriguez’s arrest, she indeed moves into the arresting officer’s personal space but does not appear to threaten him in any way.

Rodriguez also has said she’s been arrested while cop watching before, but unless she violently touched the Fort Worth officer (she did not) or verbally abused him (also no), it’s obvious that such force was not needed. Legacy media could help hold rogue cops accountable by simply reporting their misdeeds or mistakes clearly instead of spinning them to preserve all-important access to law enforcement for future stories.

Only one Fort Worth City Councilmember, Chris Nettles, publicly denounced the arrest, and City Council discussed the issue during an executive session (closed door) Friday. No steps have been taken to remedy the situation.

This column reflects the opinions of the editorial board and not the Fort Worth Weekly. To submit a column, please email Editor Anthony Mariani at Anthony@FWWeekly.com. He will gently edit it for clarity and concision. 

 

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