Footage showing a police officer using a Taser on a Black man during a January traffic stop for a dirty license plate prompted disappointed New Braunfels officials to call it an “isolated incident” on Monday.
The video was released during a press conference at New Braunfels City Hall on Monday morning.
The body camera video shows Officer Kaleb Meyer pulling over Clarence Crawford of New Braunfels for what police said was an unclean license plate.
The video shows Crawford with his seat belt fastened and holding a phone as Meyer approaches the vehicle with his weapon drawn and orders him to place his hands on the steering wheel.
Crawford is heard to say, “please don’t shoot” and “I’m Black” during the initial interaction. Meyer then pulls him with one hand out of the car.
Meyer tells Crawford, “On your face. Get on your face. All the way. Hands in front of you.”
Crawford responds by saying, “What the f*** do you want me to do?”
With Crawford on his hands and knees, Meyer then deploys a taser twice directly on the back of his leg.
Meyer holds the handcuffed man on the ground until a second officer arrives on the scene.
Crawford was also heard on the video insisting he was pulled over because he’s Black.
Crawford was charged with attempting to elude an officer and interfering with police official duties, but following the incident, the charges were dropped at the request of the police department.
City Manager Robert Camareno said Meyer, who was with the department for 20 months, is no longer with the department after resigning.
Camareno said the second officer then de-escalates the situation.
Meyer is heard on the video stating he had followed Crawford for several minutes with lights and siren.
The New Braunfels Fire Department was also called to the scene.
Crawford was treated “in a manner that is not consistent with the way our officers are trained or expected to handle a situation,” Camareno said.
“This is an isolated incident and is not representative of the men and women of the New Braunfels Police Department who serve our community,” he said.
Crawford has filed a claim against the city and is represented by legal counsel. Camareno said they are working with them to resolve the claim.
Camareno added that the city is working with an outside firm to review policies and standard operating procedures. The city is also reviewing the department’s training and processes.
The video is also being used as a training tool, he said.
“Our officers are trained to be respectful, de-escalate situations, give clear and concise commands, listen to those they interact with, and to only use force when the situation deems it necessary,” he said. “That training and our expectations were not met by Officer Meyer during this traffic stop, and the experience Mr. Crawford had with him is not acceptable.”
Camareno said Meyer continued his duties with the department after the incident, initially treated as a training issue, until his resignation.
Meyer received additional training and counseling after the incident, he said.
Wibert took responsibility
Camareno added that fallout from the incident resulted in the retirement of Police Chief Tom Wibert in late September, although those reasons were not given at the time of the departure.
“He served the department and the community honorably for 10 years,” he said. “We appreciate all that he has done for the department. However, he also believed that he probably could have done other things. He took responsibility for the issue and retired.”
An attempt to contact Wibert for comment was not immediately successful.
Addressing the issue
Camareno said the video was not shown to the public before now at Crawford’s request. However, as mediation between the city and Crawford’s legal team unsuccessfully concluded recently, Camareno said, “the city chose, in the interest of transparency, to show the video to our community and talk about what we were doing to address the issues.”
Mayor Rusty Brockman said the city is working with the New Braunfels MLK Association, the New Braunfels Police Officers Association and the city’s newly formed Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Awareness Forum “to have an open dialogue and to move forward in a positive way.”
Crawford’s San Antonio-based attorney did not immediately return a request for comment.