City releases police video to contextualize arrest after citizen video goes viral

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Three days after a citizen video of forceful arrest of a woman by a Winston-Salem motorcycle cop was posted on Facebook, the city of Winston-Salem has released the police body camera video of the incident.

The citizen video posted by Da’ton “Rudegirl” Edwards of Tekara Williams’ arrest has been viewed 2.3 million times since it was posted on Wednesday at 12:16 p.m. The video opens with a shot of Officer James Carter grabbing Williams and pushing her into an open door while trying to place handcuffs on her, as Williams says, “There is no reason to do this, sir. You pulled me over for a speeding ticket. What are you doing? No sir. I want somebody here now.”

The video released by the city, which begins about 18 minutes before Edwards began filming sheds light on¬†the reason for the arrest. In the video, Carter can be heard asking Williams for the keys, prompting her to ask, “For what?”

“I’m taking the tag off the vehicle and I don’t want you to have the keys,” Carter says.

Williams says in response: “Umm, no sir, I’ll call my grandfather because this is not my vehicle.”

“I have a request: I need the keys for my safety so you don’t start the vehicle,” Carter says.

Williams continues to refuse the request.

“The next step is you’re going to jail,” Carter says. Williams says something unintelligible, and Carter opens the door.

“Step out,” he says.

“No sir,” Williams says repeatedly. At this point, the two raise their voices, and Williams reaches her grandfather on the phone, accusing Carter of harassing her.

The police said Carter stopped Williams for driving 51 mph in a 35 mph zone, and that the officer later learned that the NC Division of Motor Vehicles had issued an order for the vehicle’s license plate to be retrieved because the vehicle was not properly registered.

The Winston-Salem Journal reports that City Attorney Angela Carmon and Assistant City Attorney Lori Sykes successfully petitioned a Forsyth County superior court judge to release the video to the public. The article quotes Sykes as saying, “We believe there is a compelling public interest in releasing the video.”

And Carmon reportedly told the judge: “The video is the best way for the city to tell the whole story.”

The Winston-Salem episode contrasts with a months-long saga in Greensboro over police body camera video of the arrest of then-15-year-old Jose Charles at Center City Park on July 4, 2016.

After viewing the video, the city’s police complaint review committee disagreed with a police internal investigation finding that the officers handled the arrest appropriately.¬†Greensboro City Council was allowed to review the video in closed session with the stipulation that the video not be released to any individual member of council and that no council member “discuss, comment on, or disseminate any content or depiction contained in the body-worn camera recordings in open session of council meetings or to any member of the public.”

One critical difference between the Williams and Charles cases is that Williams is an adult while Charles was a 15-year-old minor at the time of his arrest. Whatever concerns a judge might have about violating a minor’s confidentiality, Charles and his mother, Tamara Figueroa, have repeatedly appeared in public and spoken to the media about the incident.