A Texas police officer briefly put a woman video recording law enforcement in a chokehold and threatened her with arrest for failing to produce identification while officers investigated a fight that had broken out in a restaurant parking lot.
The footage shows Corpus Christi Sgt. J.E. Lockhart repeatedly instruct Lanessa Espionsa, who was not being charged with a crime, to show ID or be arrested. After she declined to do so, Espinosa was placed in a chokehold by an assisting off-duty officer and detained. Officers ultimately released her without charges.
“There is probable cause for us to be out here,” Lockhart told Espionsa. “I want to know who you are, so I’m requesting your ID. You fail to ID, I’m going to take you into jail and that’s law.”
The woman asked officers what she was being charged with, contending she did not legally have to show her identification until a formal charge had been made.
"What's my charge?!" she asked.
"You’re not being charged with anything," the officer replied.
“Then I don’t have to show you my ID, sir,” Espinosa countered.
“You’re involved in an investigation," Lockhart said. "You want to interfere with an investigation, you’re going to jail for interfering with a police officer in performance of his investigation. Do you understand that?"
An assisting off-duty officer then briefly put Espinosa in a chokehold before she was detained.
The incident took place in mid-August but Espinosa only uploaded the footage Monday, telling TheBlaze she wanted to let things "cool off" before posting the video online.
According to Espinosa, she started recording officers after a fight that involved her friend broke out by her car. She denied any involvement in the fight.
After she was detained, Espinosa said officers requested she delete the footage she recorded on her phone. Citing concerns for her personal safety, Espinosa said she complied.
"I was scared," she told TheBlaze.
Department representative Kirk Stowers, however, denied to TheBlaze that an officer asked Espinosa to delete any of the footage captured on her phone.
Further, he added that she "admitted to an involvment in the fight" and was only not charged because it was determined she "was not an aggressor, but intervened to break up the fight."
A statement posted online by the department echoed that claim.
"A review of the incident shows that Senior Officer Jerry Lockhart arrived to assist in what had been a fight involving ten people that was no longer in progress," the statement said. "Officer Lockhart started to assist the off-duty NCDA officer in the investigation of the fight. He was directed to Ms. Espinosa by the off-duty NCDA officer because she had been involved in the altercation."
"Ms. Espinosa was restrained by the off-duty NCDA officer and detained by Officer Lockhart for 'Interference with Public Duties,'" it added. "The detention was based on the incident (that she had been involved in the fight, which she admitted), and not due to the fact that Ms. Espinosa was videotaping the officers."
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