Body Camera Footage Clears TX State Trooper Accused Of Rape Nationally
A Texas State Trooper accused of raping a black woman and threatening to kill a black man during a traffic stop by civil rights activist and writer Shaun King has been exonerated of those accusations after the body camera footage was reviewed.
King, a writer who rose to prominence in the Black Lives Matter movement following the shooting death of Michael Brown, Jr. in Ferguson in 2014. His writings have focused on civil rights and alleged police brutality towards the black community.
On May 20 King claimed in a Twitter post that a Texas state trooper, who he identified publicly by name to his nearly one million followers on social media, sexually assaulted a black woman during a traffic stop. The trooper pulled the woman over for suspected driving while intoxicated, and she was arrested.
On Twitter, King accused the trooper of falsely accusing the woman of DWI, groping the woman up her skirt and asked her if she wanted to "earn her way home", then also claimed the trooper threatened to shoot and kill her fiance' who drove up to the scene. In the post, King also claimed the trooper kidnapped the woman and held her hostage in jail.
King posted that the woman in question was a close friend of Civil Rights Attorney Lee Merritt.
King later posted that the trooper "already deleted his Facebook page and scrubbed the Internet of his entire existence", and that he did so while the woman was, "being held at the jail."
However, the trooper's body camera video was running during the entire traffic stop, and all the way to the jail. After the video footage was reviewed, the Texas Department of Public Safety released the video to the Ellis County District Attorney's Office in Texas.
Merritt, who was then representing the woman as her attorney, accepted the findings and said the trooper should be, "cleared of any wrongdoing".
King deleted social media posts accusing the trooper, and posted the YouTube clip of the video with a quick statement that included the video, "does not appear to show any verbal threats, sexual assault, or police brutality."
The Texas DPS released the following statement following the release of the body camera video footage:
“The department is appalled that anyone would make such a despicable, slanderous and false accusation against a peace officer who willingly risks his life every day to protect and serve the public."
Merritt also released a statement apologizing to the officer and his family for any trouble the allegations may have caused, and took full responsibility for helping publicize the incident nationally.
Another officer with the same last name as the trooper in the stop was also falsely identified through the Internet shortly after King's post, according to an attorney representing him.
King addressed the false accusations in an article he published on Wednesday, confirming that what the woman (and subsequently King and several others nationally) accused the trooper absolutely did not happen. “I can’t even begin to make sense of why someone would concoct such an awful story? — particularly in light of the reality that both police brutality and sexual assaults are a very real crisis in this nation,” he wrote. “It does a tremendous disservice to actual victims when something horrible like this is fabricated. It provides an unfair spotlight to a good cop and undeserved cover for the bad ones who will try to use an incident like this as false proof of their innocence."
In the article, King takes no responsibility for falsely accusing the trooper, nor did he issue any apology, outside of feeling "regret" for believing the woman's allegations.
He also writes at length about the numerous cases of alleged police victimization he has worked with, writing:
Each year in the United States, tens of thousands of people are assaulted, abused, beaten, falsely arrested, and threatened by American police. 2018 is actually on pace to be the deadliest year ever measured for police brutality in this country.
In the article, King also called the woman's arrest "arguably unwarranted", and says that she has told him that she still believes the assault happened. He writes:
[She] still insists everything that she said happenedactually happened. She claims the body camera footage must’ve been edited to remove the worst parts. This is not unthinkable. I have seen it happen before, but it absolutely does not appear to happen here
King ends the article by saying that the case shows the need for body cameras on police officers.