JASPER, TX (KTRE) - Following a lengthy discussion with the city's attorney Monday morning, the Jasper City Council voted unanimously to fire two police officers that are accused of using excessive force on a 25-year-old female suspect that resisted being placed into custody at the jail on May 5.
In addition, the city's leaders also voted unanimously to turn the matter over to the Jasper County District Attorney's Office for possible criminal charges, according to Jasper Mayor Mike Lout.
"I think this lady's actions weren't good, but the officers' actions weren't either," Lout said. "They're the police, and that means they should be held to higher standards."
At the specially called meeting, the Jasper City Council voted to terminate JPD officers Ricky Grissom and Ryan Cunningham. Lout said it will be up to the District Attorney's Office to decide whether or not to bring in the Texas Rangers to investigate the incident.
The alleged excessive force was captured on two jail surveillance video cameras that shot the incident from two separate angles. In one of the videos, it looks as though one of the two Jasper Police Department officers throws a bag of jail clothes at a chair.
Then it appears as though the female suspect, Keyarika Diggles, and one of the officers gets into a verbal confrontation just outside the camera's point of view. After a scuffle ensues, one officer grabs Diggles by the hair and both men slam her into a counter in the jail office before throwing her to the floor. While Diggles is on the floor, the officers cuff her hands behind her back.
In the video, it looks as though Diggles may have kicked at one of the officers, losing a shoe in the process. At that point, the two officers drag the woman by her ankle and put her into a nearby holding cell.
Lout said that one of the officers that was terminated Monday morning had also gotten into a separate, unrelated confrontation with a motorist during a traffic stop on May 15.
Lout explained that Diggles was originally charged with disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor. He said after she failed to appear in front of the municipal judge, a capias warrant was issued for her arrest.
After Diggles was picked up on the capias warrant, she allegedly made an arrangement to pay the fine in installments, Lout said. He added Diggles paid the first $100 installment, but didn't pay the rest of the fine, so she was arrested on another capias warrant and taken to the Jasper County Jail at approximately 8 a.m. on May 5. The excessive force incident occurred a short time later.
"She refused to do what the officers told her to do and she resisted," Lout said.
In a story that appeared on www.kjas.com, Lout said that he was unaware of the alleged excessive force incident until May 29. Upon learning about it, Lout went to the Jasper Police Department to view the video.
At Lout's request, Jasper PD Captain Gerald Hall placed the two officers on administrative leave the next morning. Both officers were pulled from their patrol duties.
Here is the link to one of the videos, both of which were posted to You Tube.