Two white Texas officers fired for beating black woman over $150 fine

By David Edwards
Tuesday, June 4, 2013 9:17 EDT
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Keyarika "Shea" Diggles accuses Jasper police officer of brutality
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Two police officers in Texas have been fired after they were caught on video beating a woman who was being arrested for an unpaid traffic ticket.

In an interview with KBMT last week, 25-year-old Keyarika “Shea” Diggles said that Jasper Officer Ricky Grissom was polite at first, allowing her to call her mother from the police station to raise the $150 needed to pay the fine.

But Grissom eventually became impatient and cut off the call.

“He said, ‘I’ve been waiting here all this time when I could have been out patrolling, waiting on you. This is stupid,’” Diggles recalled. “He just went to cussing. And then I was like, ‘Well, you don’t have to yell at me.’”

Video obtained from the Jasper Police Department shows Grissom pushing Diggles up against a wall before Officer Ryan Cunningham comes from behind and slams her head against a counter top. Diggles is then forced to the ground and dragged by her ankle into a nearby cell.

“The amount of force used was abominable,” attorney Cade Bernsen, who is representing Diggles, told Yahoo News. “She got her hair pulled out, broke a tooth, braces got knocked off… it was brutal.”

On Monday, the Jasper City Council dismissed Grissom and Cunningham. A charge of resisting arrest against Diggles was also dropped.

In a famous 1998 case, an African-American man named James Byrd Jr. died after being tied to the back of a pickup drug and dragged and decapitated by at least two white supremacists in Jasper. And in last year, the city’s first African-American police chief, Rodney Pearson, was fired by the majority-white city council. He is now suing.

“It’s a different part of the world, man, it’s crazy,” Bernsen explained to Yahoo News.

Watch this video from KBMT, broadcast May 29, 2013.

12 News KBMT and K-JAC. News, Weather and Sports for SE Texas

Watch this video, uploaded to YouTube on June 3, 2013.

David Edwards
David Edwards
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
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