Harker Heights police have released the body cam footage of the Jan. 1 arrest of Leah Nadia Dure outside an ambulance bay at Seton Medical Center.
Dure accused Officer Joshua Wood of police brutality during the arrest. Heights police Chief Mike Gentry held a news conference Tuesday that discredited the claims, and showed video evidence from the hospital and the jail to back it up. However, the body camera on Wood had malfunctioned despite Wood following protocol, police said earlier this week. As a result, Gentry sent the body camera to the manufacturer to figure out the reason for failure.
Previously, Heights police had released video footage from the back of a police cruiser, as well as security footage from Seton and inside the Heights police headquarters. The footage released showed that Dure already had several injuries to her face before she was placed in the back of the police car.
“Technical efforts to recover the recordings from that malfunctioning body cam have been successful,” Gentry said in a news release issued 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.”
The accusations gained traction last weekend after Philadelphia-based attorney S. Lee Merritt posted pictures of Dure’s injuries on Facebook, and said that they were as a result of brutality by Wood. Gentry said injuries were as a result of a domestic fight involving her boyfriend, his wife and several other people earlier in the morning of Jan. 1.
About 10 p.m. Tuesday, Merritt posted a Facebook Live video in which he stated that he stood by his client in a police brutality case alleged against Harker Heights police. Less than six hours later, his office released a written statement that said he would no longer pursue the matter.
“The absence of circumstantial evidence that a violent attack occurred during the 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 release from Merritt said. “Accordingly, our office will no longer pursue this matter on behalf of Ms. Dure.”
Dure was charged with public intoxication during the incident. She has a court appearance on Jan. 22. Her boyfriend was being treated in the emergency room for an eye injury when police found Dure sleeping in the backseat of his car parked in an ambulance bay.
During the Facebook Live video Tuesday night, Merritt seemed to strongly believe that Dure was telling the truth. He said that he doesn’t represent police brutality victims because it pays well.
“Anyone who falsifies a report against a police officer should be prosecuted by the full extent of the law,” he said.
Merritt said any attorney who misrepresents facts should be disbarred.
“Pursuing the truth is not, by any sense, unethical,” he said.
Merritt has failed to respond to the Herald’s questions, both during that Facebook Live stream and previously.
Video footage from outside the medical center, inside the police car and inside the police station does not show officers using excessive force on Dure. At one point, Dure asked the officers to allow her to pull up her pants. When they decline, she hits her own head several times on the inside of the police car.
Later, when Dure appeared to be uncooperative with police during the booking process, Wood restrains her against the wall.