Texas sheriff's office under fire over controversial arrest of teen caught on video

ByChris Boyette and Paul Murphy, CNN, CNNWire
Saturday, July 31, 2021
Video shows Texas sheriff's deputy on top of teen
Video shows a Texas sheriff's deputy on top of an 18-year-old woman and then arresting her mother during a police encounter.

FORNEY, Texas -- Video taken by a family member shows a Kaufman County, Texas, sheriff's deputy on top of an 18-year-old woman, and then arresting her mother during a police encounter on Tuesday afternoon in Forney, Texas.

In the video, the woman being held down is heard yelling, "I can't breathe."

The Kaufman County Sheriff's Office said in a news release that Deputy Conner Martin was using an approved control technique to detain her after responding to a 911 call that a young woman was suicidal and walking into traffic in an attempt to get hit by a car.

In a recording of a 911 call released by Kaufman County, a caller tells a dispatcher that a young woman is walking in the middle of the street and when the caller had to swerve to miss her, the woman said she wanted to be run over and wanted someone to end her life.

"Three people already had to swerve out of the way, me including," the caller said in the recording.

Martin's body-worn camera shows him arriving at the scene and asking a young woman what is wrong and why she is crying.

The woman, who her family would later identify as Nekia Trigg, 18, was crying but said she was OK and was just going home.

She denied walking in front of cars.

In the body camera footage, Martin explained he can't let her leave on her own.

"I don't want you to hurt me," Trigg said.

Martin, holding Trigg's arm, responded, "I'm not going to hurt you, but if you keep pulling away, I have got to put you in handcuffs."

Trigg can be heard saying, "You're hurting me," before the camera fell to the ground.

According to the sheriff's office, the camera kept recording, but it fell underneath Trigg and Martin as they went to the ground.

Trigg's sister, Jads Levels, 19, and her friend, Jermany Sims, 20, witnessed part of the incident. They told CNN that they became aware of the police encounter after a phone call from Trigg on Tuesday evening.

"She's screaming and crying," Levels told CNN by phone, saying that she remembers Trigg saying, "Police got me, police got me, please come help me."

Levels said her mother, Antanique Ray, then arrived at their house from work. They found Trigg's location -- just a neighborhood over -- and jumped back in the car, Levels said. She said they were able to determine the location because Trigg had shared it with a friend.

When they arrived, Levels and Sims said they heard Trigg yelling and saw a Kaufman County sheriff's deputy sitting on top of her holding her hands above her head.

That's when Sims began filming the incident.

The video shows that the family tried to calm Trigg, telling her to "just breathe" and holding her hands. They also plead with the deputy to get off of Trigg. A brief time later, another Kaufman County sheriff's deputy is seen and Trigg is rolled onto her stomach and put into handcuffs.

As deputies walk Trigg away her mother is seen approaching them.

She is heard in the video asking the officers if they could loosen Trigg's cuffs. Martin can be heard telling her to get back at which point a scuffle ensues and Ray is taken into custody.

The sheriff's office says Ray struck Martin, but this is unclear in the family video or from his body-worn camera.

Ray was arrested for interfering with public duties and assault of a public servant, according to the sheriff's office.

CNN has reached out to the Kaufman County Criminal District Attorney's Office to inquire which charges they are pursuing, if any.

The Kaufman County Sheriff's office said Trigg was taken to a mental health facility for evaluation. The family tells CNN that Trigg was taken to the Terrell State Hospital.

Ray has bonded out of custody but has yet to make an initial appearance and Trigg has been released from the mental health facility, according to the family's lawyer, Kim T. Cole.

Cole says Trigg underwent an evaluation at the facility and that she was "promptly released because they found no reason to keep her."

When asked about the 911 call recording, Cole said if that was Trigg's state of mind, the officer only made it worse.

"Physical injuries from an auto accident will eventually heal, however, the psychological damage this deputy caused will be with Nekia for the rest of her life," Cole said.

Cole says Trigg was not suicidal.

"She was simply trying to get home. She didn't care about traffic. She wanted to get home," Cole said.

Martin has been placed on administrative leave pending an internal investigation, in accordance with the Kaufman County Sheriff's Office policy, the news release said.

CNN has been unable to reach Martin for comment and the sheriff's office said there is no statement from him available.

If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, or worried about a friend or loved one, help is available. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 [TALK], or text TALK to 741-741 for free confidential emotional support 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

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