The video that went viral after it was posted on PINAC Monday, showing a woman being placed in a chokehold after she refused to provide identification, led to the resignation of one officer and disciplinary action against another after a dash cam video obtained through a PINAC public records request ended up contradicting an earlier statement from the police chief.
The day the initial video was posted, Corpus Christi Police Chief Floyd D. Simpson issued a press release in which he said Lanessa Espinosa was involved in a fight with a large group of people, which is why the officers had probable cause to demand her identification.
Simpson also stated the following:
The Corpus Christi Police Department prides itself in transparency and respects the public’s right to photograph and record in public. Our officers are trained to be respectful during police/citizen contacts and de-escalation techniques.
Furthermore, members of the Corpus Christi Police Department do not interfere with citizens who wish to photograph or record our officers in the public space.
But then the dash cam footage requested by PINAC’s growing research team revealed that Corpus Christi Police Sergeant Jerry Lockhart ordered her to delete the footage she had recorded of him placing her in handcuffs after a Nueces County district attorney officer placed her in a chokehold.
It also shows she was not part of the fight because they had that group lined up against a van away from Espinosa.
Nueces County district attorney officer Gary Witherspoon ended up resigning to avoid termination because of that chokehold.
And Lockhart was “formally disciplined” for ordering her to delete the footage, although Simpson did not specify exactly how he would be disciplined.
Simpson followed up his first statement with the following statement after the truth emerged:
Based on the news stories aired locally and on the internet, it was brought to our attention that an Officer had requested Ms. Espinosa to delete the video that was recorded. We viewed the entire dash cam video and found the conversation between Officer Lockhart and Ms. Espinosa. It was discovered that Officer Lockhart did request that the video be deleted.
Officer Lockhart took full responsibility for his statement on the video and was formally disciplined for those actions.
A memo, to the entire department, will follow on Wednesday regarding Texas Penal Code Sec. 38.02 “Failure to Identify” and our commitment to transparency by allowing citizens who wish to photograph or record our officers in a public space.
It shows a local woman, Lanessa Espinosa, as she repeatedly refuses to show law officers her I.D. She was seen arguing correctly that unless they planned to arrest her, she could legally refuse.
So perhaps Simpson had been misled by his own officers when he issued the first press release, but he followed through on his promise of transparency in his second press release as soon as he learned the truth.
The video below combines Espinosa’s video footage from Lockhart’s dash cam video. The incident took place in August but Espinosa didn’t publish it until last weekend because she was afraid of retaliation. She has since retained an attorney.