HARKER HEIGHTS, Texas (KWTX) Harker Heights police released recovered body cam video Friday of a New Year’s Day arrest that prompted a civil rights complaint against a local officer that was later retracted.
(Harker Heights Police Dept.)
Leah Dure was arrested at around 5:20 a.m. on New Year’s Day for public intoxication after Officer Joshua Wood was sent to Seton Medical Center Harker Heights in a response to a call from a Killeen police officer who spotted the running vehicle in which Dure was sitting blocking the ambulance bay while at the hospital on an unrelated matter.
On Jan. 2, after Dure was released from custody, she and William Stewart III, whom police described as her boyfriend, “provided written statements asserting that an officer of the Harker Heights Police Department had assaulted and injured her during the arrest and booking process, claiming the injuries to her face and arms were as a result of this arrest,” Harker Heights Police Chief Mike Gentry said in a lengthy statement Tuesday.
Allegations against the department and the officer were circulated on social media after an earlier Facebook post in which Philadelphia-based civil rights attorney S. Lee Merritt claimed that Wood dragged Dure from the parked car, banged her face into the concrete while accusing her of drunken driving.
Early Wednesday morning, however, Merritt announced on Facebook that he was no longer pursuing the civil rights claim.
“The absence of circumstantial evidence that a violent attack occurred during this missing period of recording, coupled with significant evidence that Ms. Dure suffered serious injury to her face prior to her arrest, makes further pursuit of a civil rights claim untenable."
The announcement came about 12 hours after Gentry categorically disputed claims that the officer “physically assaulted” Dure.
An internal affairs investigation ordered on Jan. 3,“has substantially proven her claim to be false,” Gentry said Tuesday.
Dure's injuries were from a fight during a disturbance at a New Year's Eve Party in Killeen, he said.
During Gentry’s news conference Tuesday, police released video from a dashcam, a second officer’s body cam and from the Harker Heights Police Department’s holding facility, but Gentry said that Wood’s body camera had malfunctioned while recording the arrest.
“Since then, technical efforts to recover the recordings from that malfunctioning body cam have been successful,” police said in a release Friday.
“As a result, that body camera footage is being released so as to further refute any accusations that Officer J. Wood assaulted or injured Dure during the arrest and again, the accusations against Officer Wood made by Dure are proven to be false,” police said.