A southeastern Texas town with a marred history of racial unrest has now fired two white officers after a video surfaced showing them violently slamming a black woman’s head into a counter top during a run-in at police headquarters.
25-year-old Keyarika “Shea” Diggles was brought to the station back on May 5 for an unpaid fine according to her attorney, Cade Bernsen. He claims that his client was on her phone attempting to get the $100 she owed when one of the officers cut her call off.
The following video has no audio but Diggles and the officer, Ricky Grissom, appear to have been arguing when fellow officer Ryan Cunningham approaches the woman from behind and attempts to handcuff her. At this point she appears to raise her hand and Cunningham proceeds to grab Diggles by the hair and slam her head into the counter top.
She’s then wrestled to the ground and drug away by both men (actually one fails miserably as her shoe comes off and sends him flailing down the hallway) to a jail cell by her ankles.
Warning: This footage may be inappropriate for some viewers.
Bernsen told Yahoo News that Diggles, “Got her hair pulled out, broke a tooth, braces got knocked off … it was brutal,” He added, “The amount of force used was abominable.” Diggles was charged with resisting arrest but this was dropped on Monday.
Jasper City Council Member Alton Scott agreed with Bernsen’s evaluation. “There’s nothing she said that could have justified what they did. They are supposed to be trained professionals. They are supposed to be above that. It was inexcusable.”
The firing of Grissom and Cunningham came 15 years to the week of the town’s infamous hate crime in which a black man by the name of James Byrd Jr. was tied to the back of a pickup by three white men and dragged for several miles until he was decapitated.
Just recently the town, which has a population of around 8,000, saw the firing of its first black chief, Rodney Pearson, after 16 months on the job by a majority-white Jasper City Council . He’s is now suing, claiming his civil rights were violated. He has the same attorney as Diggles.
Bernsen said, “It’s a different part of the world, man, it’s crazy,” when asked about his clients Diggles and Pearson. The City Council has requested that the officers be investigated for possible criminal charges. Bernsen hopes that this review is done by the FBI or state police. “I don’t trust the Police Department as far as you can throw them,” he said.