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Texas Cop Resigns After Using ‘Choke Hold’ on Woman Videotaping Arrest

Texas Cop Resigns After Using ‘Choke Hold’ on Woman Videotaping Arrest

A Texas cop has resigned after putting a woman in a choke hold. The incident was caught on video. 

The incident took place in a Whataburger parking lot in August.  Corpus Christi Senior Officer Jerry Lockhart and Officer Gary Witherspoon questioned Lanessa Espinosa after a fight that had taken place in the parking lot. 

Espinosa was asked to stop filming the interactions with the police, and to show identification. 

Witherspoon put Espinosa in a choke hold after she refused to produce an ID. She was filming her own face while he choked her. 

Espinosa uploaded three videos of the incident to YouTube. The one showing the choke hold has over 135,000 views. 

Witherspoon resigned on Wednesday afternoon, according to a press release given to the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. The release stated, “The termination is a result of his involvement and actions at an incident that took place on August 16, 2014, as well as other employment issues. However, during the termination process, Mr. Witherspoon asked for and was allowed to resign in lieu of (termination).”

The Corpus Christi Police Department released a statement on Monday, saying that Espinosa was initially being questioned due to her role in the fight — not because she was filming. “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,” the statement said. 

Ultimately Espinosa was released and not charged, according to My San Antonio. She told the Caller-Times that she was not involved in the fight but that the off-duty officer would not let her leave the parking lot. “I was not doing anything wrong,” she said. 

The cop’s resignation comes on the heels of a Staten Island grad jury announcing that charges will not be brought against a cop who killed Eric Garner, an African American man, by placing him in a choke hold. 

Follow Kristin Tate on Twitter @KristinBTate.

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