DALLAS — The police chief in the Dallas suburb of Arlington met Friday with a woman who alleges officers offered to drop charges against her two teenage sons in exchange for cellphone video she recorded — footage that she says shows an officer needlessly pushing her older son and arresting him.
Arlington police said in a statement that Chief Will Johnson met with the woman and her attorney “to answer and address their questions and concerns.” Police say the matter remains under investigation by their internal affairs unit.
Latasha Nelson said during a news conference Thursday that police illegally seized her cellphone during the July 3 incident and that two officers told her they would return it after she surrendered her video footage. Nelson’s attorney, Kim T. Cole, said the officers insinuated that the charges against Nelson’s sons would be dropped if she agreed.
Cole has said a burglary charge against Nelson’s 14-year-old son and an obstruction charge against her 16-year-old son were “pending investigation.”
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, enabling the group to post the video.
Police said in their statement Friday that they began investigating potential officer misconduct after the mother filed an online complaint Tuesday with internal affairs. That initial complaint made no reference to officers offering to drop charges in exchange for the video, police said. They added that they will “fully investigate” the claim, though.
They said the cellphone was confiscated as evidence because officers believed it contained video of the events “immediately preceding one of the individuals being placed in handcuffs.”
Officers went to the family’s apartment complex because someone reported there were two teens breaking into a car, police have said. The officers stopped Nelson’s 14-year-old son to question him because he fit the description of one of the teens being sought, police said.
The video shows police walking the 14-year-old to a police car. Nelson can be heard asking where the officers are taking her son. An officer responds by saying he won’t tell her because she has “become uncooperative.”
In the statement Friday, police said the department understands the importance of parental notification when taking a juvenile into custody. They said no parental notification was captured on the video and they’re investigating if it was made at another time during the incident.