The newly formed Nacogdoches Accountability Coalition is asking the city to form a citizen’s review board for police oversight in the aftermath of an altercation between an off-duty officer and two black female college students in April.
Coalition spokesman Savian Nugent addressed the City Council with the idea this past week, calling for the review board and an independent investigation into conduct of an officer seen on film in an altercation with two students at Overlook Apartments on April 10. Lindsey Ogbonna, 19, was arrested and has been indicted on a charge of assaulting a police officer.
“We have no ill intent whatsoever. We despise no one and no institution,” Nugent said.
Video posted online of the incident sparked outrage and several protests.
“Here in Nacogdoches, we are at a crossroads,” he told the council. “The Nacogdoches Accountability Coalition — NAC — we are comprised of teachers, activists, parents, doctors and students.”
The coalition met for the third time Wednesday as it continues to hammer out its goals.
People have asked me what exactly is the mission of this organization?” he told the group. “I think we have to put our flag in the ground now.”
Except for an update issued Friday afternoon by the mayor, city officials have remained silent, citing pending investigations. In the statement Mayor Shelley Brophy said the District Attorney’s office is independently investigating Ogbonna’s arrest.
“In addition, the Nacogdoches Police Department is performing a separate administrative investigation and has received statements from witnesses and reviewed video footage from various parties. The investigation has and continues to thoroughly evaluate all information which can reasonably be obtained,” she said.
Brophy also said some witnesses in the case have been uncooperative with the city’s investigation.
“Two of the individuals who were detained have refused requests to provide any information, and their information is vitally important for a comprehensive understanding of all the facts. At this time, while criminal charges are pending and since civil litigation has been threatened against the city, I do not anticipate releasing any additional information. On behalf of the City Council, we will continue to be respectful to all sides as these investigations continue,” she said.
No lawsuit had been filed in federal court as of close of filing on Friday.
On April 10, an NPD officer who was not in uniform pulled up to a group of about 11 women in a police vehicle and turned on the overhead lights. The group began to disperse, at which point he told them not to leave, or “I’ll charge you with evading,” according to footage captured by a dash camera in the vehicle. Videos posted to social-media show the officer wrestling a young woman to the ground. On the NPD footage released shortly afterward, a woman appears to escape custody before being restrained, and a second woman strikes the officer before he eventually took her to the ground.
Since the incident, at least three protest marches have taken place, including one by a Dallas group at Saturday’s Blueberry Festival — which coalition members discouraged.
The coalition released a statement Saturday saying it “strongly opposes” a protest march at Saturday’s Texas Blueberry Festival announced by Frisco-based attorney Kim Cole, who traveled to Nacogdoches for prior protests at City Hall.
“Despite multiple attempts from our organization to inform her that this is not the most effective way to achieve justice for Lindsey, Ms. Cole made the unilateral decision to organize a direct action at the Blueberry Festival,” the statement reads.