Family Claims Deputy Used Excessive Force
(TX) – The Kaufman County Sheriff’s Office is under fire after a video of a deputy, laying on top of a young woman, went viral on social media. On July 27, 18 year-old Nekia Trigg became upset when at the house of a family member. She left and was crying as she walked home. Kaufman County dispatch received two 911 calls. One person says that Nekia said she wanted to die, another person said she was walking in the middle of the street and looked suicidal.
When Deputy Martin arrives on the scene, Ms. Trigg is walking on the sidewalk. She is still crying so Deputy Martin asks if she’s okay. She confirms she is and says she’s going home. Deputy Martin says that people have reported she was jumping in front of cars. Nekia says she did not. At this point, Deputy Martin escalates the situation by not only laying hands on her, but telling her that if she doesn’t stop walking he is going to have to place her in handcuffs. A struggle ensues. Deputy Martin takes her to the ground and lays his whole torso on hers. He uses his hands to pin hers above her head and he wraps his legs around her hips to hold her in place.
Needless to say, Nekia is crying and struggling under him. This is the scene that Nekia’s mother sees when she arrives. Nekia states she can’t breathe and her mother tries to get Deputy Martin to get off of her. The situation ends with Nekia being taken to a mental health facility and her mother being arrested for assaulting an officer.
The Kaufman County Sheriff’s Office put out a press release saying in part,
In an effort to prevent the female from running into traffic or sustaining an injury, Deputy Martin executed a control technique taught by the Kaufman County Sheriff’s Office. A Top Mount is commonly used in Ju Jit Su and allows the deputy to control the lower body without impeding breathing and prevents injuries to both parties.
I have a lot of issues with what the sheriff’s office states in the press release. They say Deputy Martin was trying to stop Nekia from running out into traffic. What traffic? Look at the video. They are in a fairly quiet residential area. There are multiple videos out and in the majority you only see police vehicles. I picked the video below that shows one vehicle. By the time it passes, she is already being restrained, so again, what traffic?
Sexual Assault or Top Mount Move?
I can’t believe a sheriff’s office would teach a move like this. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) 1 in 5 American women have been the victims of rape or attempted rape. 1 in 4 have experienced “some form of contact sexual violence.” And 81% of women have reported experiencing sexual harassment. That’s 81% who have reported. The actual number is no doubt higher.
How does the Kaufman County Sheriff’s Office think a woman is going to respond to a man laying his whole body on top of her while restraining her hands above her head? Are they oblivious to how often men use various excuses to touch a woman’s body, even to the extent of pressing their body against the woman’s? Do they realize the terror that Top Mount hold would induce in any woman, especially the ones who have experienced a sexual assault? The reaction will more likely be to struggle and attempt to get away, not compliance. How can a law enforcement agency be so ignorant of the terror and trauma they are causing?
The press release from the sheriff’s office also says that the move does not impede breathing. I call bullshit. At some points Deputy Martin is fully lying on top of Nekia. At other points he has his body slight lifted above hers. There is no way you can tell me that lying fully on top of her will not impede her breathing. Dr. Scott Belshaw, a Criminal Justice instructor at the University of North Texas, agrees that it does impede breathing.
Internal Affairs Investigation
Deputy Martin has been placed on administrative leave during the internal affairs investigation. Don’t expect the result to be anything other than a conclusion that Deputy Martin was correct. You can already see it happening in the press release. The KCSO has stated they teach this move. We can all see the stupidity of using it, but don’t expect them to agree. Law enforcement agencies are notoriously bad about sticking with something even when every indication is that it’s a poor process/action/decision.