Texas State troopers stopped Sherita Dixon-Cole on Sunday for allegedly driving while intoxicated. At the conclusion of their investigation, she was arrested and booked at the Ellis County Jail – an event typical of a normal day in the life a of state trooper.
What happened next was inexplicable and a testament to the power of media to spread a totally untrue, dishonest, and cruel lie. This lie was fertilized by community activists and attorneys who were quick to champion their own agenda and version of events.
Dixon-Cole was later released and through her attorney, S. Lee Merrit, released a depraved story of how the trooper solicited her for sex and sexually assaulted her on the way to the station. The story was lurid and graphic.
The story was shared with activist Shaun King, who immediately took to Facebook and Twitter to share the lurid details. Wikipedia describes King as, “an American writer and civil rights activist. He is noted for his use of social media to promote religious, charitable, and social causes, including the Black Lives Matter movement.”
Using the postings, which you can find on the Blue Lives Matter page, King ranted on Twitter. Apparently he did nothing to verify any of this information and trusted his second-hand sources. He then went on a national radio show to share the story.
Merrit also pontificated through press releases, statements, and press conferences the veracity of Dixon-Cole’s allegations. Again without verifying anything other than a statement from his client and assurances from friends and family as to her character.
The officer in this case, Daniel Hubbard, was named repeatedly not only by Merrit and King but by multitudes of others who spread the lie that grew faster than a California brush fire.
Presser today at 2PM 1910 Pacific Ave Suite 1700 Conference Dallas TX pic.twitter.com/9ckavZnKB9
— Lee Merritt (@MerrittForTexas) May 21, 2018
In the meantime, the Texas Department of Public Safety conducted a meticulous investigation, getting the facts straight and, most importantly, checking the officer’s body camera footage of the entire contact. On Wednesday, the complete body camera footage was released. Guess what? It was all a big lie.
DPS Releases Body Camera Video of Ellis County Traffic Stop and DWI Arrest On May 20, 2018, at approximately 1:32…
King has since offered a lackluster apology and explanation more or less saying he’s the victim here. After viewing the released video, King stated, “From all indications the officer, Daniel Hubbard, was very professional and patient throughout the ordeal. The whole thing was rather routine and painfully normal.”
Merrit offered a more contrite apology. In an online statement he said, “I am truly sorry for any trouble these claims may have caused Officer Hubbard and his family. I take full responsibility for amplifying these claims to the point of national concern.”
The sad reality is that people have been victimized by the police. These incidents dishonor the profession and demand harsh justice when discovered. When someone can make serious false allegations against a police officer and use people of influence to further their claims without any vetting or investigation, it does serious and irreparable harm to any true victims.
In any newsroom in the country, King would have been fired. Merrit’s behavior has been nothing short of ambulance chasing. The public backlash against them is well deserved.
Joe is a retired Anaheim Police Department captain. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.