Kaufman County Deputy Accused Of Brutalizing Teenage Girl Put On Administrative Leave
The Kaufman County Sheriff's Office has opened an internal investigation after a video of deputy pinning a teenage girl to the ground and using his body to hold her down surfaced on social media.
Warning: This story includes video and description of police physically restraining a young woman. There's some profanity in the video.
The video shows an officer pinning 18-year-old Nekia Trigg to the ground. He lies on top of her face-to-face with his legs wrapped around hers as onlookers yell that Trigg is saying she can't breath. Foam or vomit drips from her mouth. She lets out a cough, appearing to struggle for air.
The department released a statement announcing the investigation on Tuesday and is identifying the officer only as Deputy Martin.
Antanique Ray, Trigg’s mother, was there. She can be seen and heard telling the officer to stop in the video.
“Everything in me went numb,” Ray said at a press conference on Thursday.
According to a statement from the sheriff's office they were responding to "multiple calls about a female attempting suicide by jumping into oncoming traffic." The department did release a 9-1-1 call.
Body camera footage, separate from the video circulating on social media, was released by the department late Thursday. It shows an officer approaching a crying Trigg as she's walking down the street. The officer ask questions like "Where do you live?" and "Are you ok?"
Trigg attempts to keep walking away while the officer grabs her arm saying she's not in trouble, but can't leave.
"We got a call that you were jumping out in front of cars," the deputy says.
"No I wasn't," Trigg replies.
As Trigg continues to pull away while repeating fears that the officer could hurt her, there's a commotion, and the officer's body camera falls obscuring the view of the event.
The sheriff's office said deputy Martin was trying to prevent Trigg from running into traffic and "executed a control technique" that's taught by the sheriff's office they say is commonly used in jujitsu. They said the technique does not impede breathing.
The department also said Ray struck Deputy Martin during the incident. She was arrested and charged with assault on a public servant and interference with public duties.
About mid-way through the video shot by an onlooker you see Ray, Martin, other officers and another onlooker huddled around a handcuffed Trigg as officers attempt to escort her to car. You hear Martin shout "let go of her" and a commotion ensues where Martin runs after Ray, subdues her to the ground and uses a device to restrain her hands behind her back.
Another officer can be seen pointing what appears to be a stun gun, like a Taser, and onlookers telling them to get back.
Ray was released the following day on bond.
Trigg was transported to a mental health facility for evaluation after the incident, according to the sheriff's office.
Kim T. Cole, the family's attorney, said they want the department to take a stand and say "this is not how policing should be done."
“We're calling on them to examine their policies and to file charges against this officer," Cole said.
According to Cole, Trigg was “simply trying to get home.” Trigg's family said she'd just left another family member's home and was upset.
“I literally was in disbelief when I saw that police officer,” Ray said.
At the press conference the activists with the social justice organization Next Generation Action Network backed the family.
“This maneuver is not something that American police are trained to do. But this officer saw the fit to actually do it,” Dominique Alexander, president of the organization said.
Alexander and Cole called the officer’s actions inappropriate.
“If he thought that Nekia was trying to harm herself, throwing her to the ground and sitting on her chest was not the way to fix that,” Cole said.
Next Generation Action Network is asking that all charges be dismissed against Ray, that Martin be terminated and that there's a criminal investigation of all officers involved.
“The ball is in [the sheriff’s department’s] court," Alexander said. "Now, they can elect to put the ball in the district attorney’s. And by filing these charges, and the ball will be in the hands of the district attorney.”
The Kaufman County Sheriff's Department said they remain committed to transparency.
Read their full statement below.
Got a tip? Alejandra Martinez is a Report For America corps member and writes about the impact of COVID-19 on underserved communities for KERA News. Email Alejandra at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow Alejandra on Twitter @alereports.
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