The Arlington Police Department is under fire for the destruction of a document related to a highly-publicized police brutality case.
In July, Latasha Nelson‘s two teenage sons wound up being featured in a viral video documenting that alleged instance of brutality–one of many in a recent trend of white police officers using excessive force against black children.
In the full video (available here), Officer Chad Haning is seen arresting the younger Nelson, who is 14-years-old, and then–seemingly without provocation–slamming the elder Nelson, who is 16, into the ground head first.
That video has since been viewed around 200,000 times and prompted an official investigation by the department.
But then, sometime during that investigation, senior officers destroyed the originally-filed Use of Force report.
(In multiple police departments, officers are required to file such reports any time force is applied. Haning claims to have completed his Use of Force report in relation to the Nelson arrests before turning it over to his superiors.)
Haning’s lawyer, however, has come forward with evidence that apparently shows Deputy Chief James Lowery ordered Lieutenant Michael Moses–who is just above Haning in the so-called chain of command– to “get rid of it.”
Moses allegedly complied with that order by shredding the report.
Randall Moore, who represents Haning in the Internal Affairs investigation lodged against him, said:
“The shredding of a police document and the subsequent actions to mitigate the offense brings disrepute upon the Department and lessens the confidence we as the public should have in the agency designated to uphold the laws of the State of Texas.”
The Arlington Police Department has verified that the document was destroyed but said it was because the original report had an error and “scratch outs.”
Moore isn’t buying that excuse. He said, “The excuse that it had scratch outs seems weak considering most hand-written documents have some scratch outs. It seems far more risky to destroy a government record than to turn over the original with typical handwritten corrections.”
The allegations, if true, would amount to a felony violation of the Texas Penal Code and apparently the City of Arlington’s record retention policy, according to Moore.
As for Latasha Nelson and her children, they received an eviction notice due to the arrests, but decided to stay put.
[image via screengrab; video courtesy CBSDFW]
Follow Colin Kalmbacher on Twitter: @colinkalmbacher
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