Trooper Grabs 74-Year-Old Woman And Then Arrests Her After She Hits Him With Her Purse For Being Rough

2ae335a7-aae3-452e-923b-92038ba46006_zps1fcf6bddTexas has been the scene of intense protests and debates over a senator’s filibuster to block an abortion bill. As reporters were threatened with arrest and other controversies mounted, this scene unfolded in the gallery. According to reports, a 74-year-old woman was arrested for assaulting an officer after the Lt. Governor ordered the gallery to be closed. Troopers then encountered Martha Northington who did not move fast enough out of her chair.

In the arrest affidavit, officers reportedly said that Northington resisted by grabbing her seat. However, Northington appears to reach down to pick up her purse. The officer then grabs her roughly and yanks her out of her seat. She protests that the trooper is hurting her and appears to tap or hit the trooper with her purse. She is immediately arrested.

The officer is quoted as writing:

“She attempted to resist by grabbing the chair, not standing, and pulling back from me. We broke her hold of the chair and got her up and as I escorted her up the gallery steps Trooper Hall released her. I was escorting her by the arm up the steps by myself and she continued to try and pull away from me. At the top of the stairs, she spun and slapped my face with her open hand and told me to let her go. The intentional slap to the face by Northington was offensive and I was currently wearing a State Trooper uniform…At this point i spun her around and proceeded to handcuff her for the assault. While trying to handcuff her she continued to resist by pulling her arms and attempted to twist away from me…Ms. Northington was transported to Travis County SO without further incident…
This offense was committed against the peace and dignity of The State of Texas.”

The video does not show any serious striking of the officer, though she appears to lightly hit him with her purse not her hand. She was reportedly charged with Assault on a Public Servant, a third degree felony. A felony. That overcharging was reduced by the arraigning magistrate to Resisting Arrest and Assault by Contact, Class A and Class C misdemeanors.

We have previously seen officers charge people with battery or assault over air kisses, bubbles, hugs, pillow fights, errant french fries, and even flatulence and raspberries.

I fail to see the necessity for any criminal charge. The officer was quite aggressive given the age of the individual and her response, while wrong and ill-advised, appears almost reflex response to what she said was painful handling. It seems that it was the officers who unnecessarily escalated the confrontation. Even if the officers felt that she had to be be forcibly removed, the criminal charge seems quite gratuitous and the account of the officer of a slap does not appear to match the video.

What do you think?

64 thoughts on “Trooper Grabs 74-Year-Old Woman And Then Arrests Her After She Hits Him With Her Purse For Being Rough

  1. If someone, even a cop assaults you, as an American citizen, you must take the abuse and pain. That’s in the constitution. I’m sick and tired of Big Bloggers always standing up for the defenseless.

  2. She is lucky that it was not a Texas Ranger since he would have shot and killed her. Texas has changed for the better since I first moved here, when the cops were the actual terrorists and helped conduct terror strikes against any dissenters who raised their heads. It is quite apparent that this DPS trooper is more concerned with making an arrest than doing his job of clearing the gallery.

    During the organizing drives of the UFW in the Valley, the Rangers were known for brutality and outright terror tactics in surpressing the farmworkers. If you read anything about the Rangers in the Mexican American War, they were primarily known for alienating the civilian population by mass murder, desecration of Catholic churches, arson, theft, rape, robbery, and were hated by most US Army commanders for their total lack of discipline and outrages. The Rangers get their recruits only from the DPS and it seems like this trooper is trying to qualify for that group.

  3. We are all at risk. Police know no limits and are incapable of behavior that reflects any judgment or proportionality. Too broad a generalization? No. Individuals must view police officers in this fashion and act accordingly otherwise they will get hurt for simply looking disrespectful.

    As to no reason for charges, the woman in question was not submissive enough and horror of horrors she was exercising her first amendment rights, something police officers, prosecutors and government in general don’t like. if only these things only occurred in Texas but as we have seen,not just from posts on this blog but in story after story in the press and elsewhere, this is now America.

  4. What do I think?

    It’s a Ruth Buzzi/Artie Johnson skit, not a Ruth Buzzi/Steven Seagal skit. He’s a thug and if he can’t handle being hit with a purse by an old woman he needs to get another job. Preferably something that doesn’t require him to work with the general public, small children or animals.

  5. Who is that Ricardo guy? The first comment on the blog & its so nonsensical, even nasty. If its supposed to be sarcasm, its not clear, not funny. I hope they drop all charges, rather than lower them.

  6. If this officer were in my jurisdiction, I would immediately notify the POST Commission his certification is revoked until he had a complete psychological examination for POST re-certification. There is an old southern saying about people like that: “There is sumpthin’ wrong with that boy.”

  7. The methods of screening police candidates are not adequate. The degree in which they are instructed to constraint is tantamount to a license for brutality as an indiscriminate tactics. It is very clear that many of these abusive cops today study tactics (hand combat or weapons) and are just waiting for the weakest excuse to deploy them as maximum practice of their personal dominating power (masked by institutional authority over constitutional rights). While gradient methodologies of restraints are essential, this requires spontaneous judgement not spontaneous force. This is probably one of the better examples of extreme stupidity over judgement in action.

  8. In the civil suit against the Law Enforcement Offender, the lawyer for pltf should subpoena in the granma of the Leo. Ask her what she thinks of Leo. Maybe act like you’re gonna smack her around in front of Leo and see how he reacts verbally for the record.

  9. All my ex es live in Texas. Maybe one of them will get pulled over by this purse snatcher. There will be hell to pay. They are rough southern Texas belles.

  10. Common sense is dead in America. Another officer not fit to wear a badge. The police forces in this nation have become fascist bullies.

    It is time to restore the Bill of Rights. In order to do that we need to have a Revolution.

  11. Bruce E. Woych.
    As someone who first began screening law enforcement officers about forty years ago, I have to agree. We do not have the real tools we need to evaluate the traits we need to evaluate. The most common screening tool for prospective new hires is the MMPI-2. The MMPI first appeared on the scene in 1942, and with a war on, the military found immediate use for it in screening for all kinds of things. They used it to screen people for security clearance, who would make a good spy, and which air cadets would make better fighter or bomber pilots.

    In the 1980s, the language had evolved so much it was revised and updated as the MMPI-2. The original MMPI was known to discriminate against minorities for several reasons. I won’t get into that here, because it is a complex subject, and whole books have been written on those testing problems. However, it is still the same basic test first used in 1942.

    As one might imagine, with the MMPI-2 being a high stakes test for employment, a great deal has been written about it, and is available online. There are whole web sites devoted to “beating” the MMPI. One web site describes it as a test that has been costing people jobs and ruining lives for more than a half-century, which is their justification for posting information on how to defeat the MMPI-2 as a pre-hire screening instrument. That leaves people like me with few reliable and valid tools in the kit. Especially since law enforcement agencies are strapped for cash and don’t want to pay for a thorough pre-hire screening. I did not raise my fee for doing these evaluations from 1974 until last year. I went up $25 from my 1974 fee. Even then, some of my client departments complain about the increased cost.

    However, when I have had a department head (sheriff, police chief, etc.) call me about a problem officer, I do a full all-day test battery (way more than the MMPI-2) and extensive interviews, as well as review their personnel and medical file. We don’t have that luxury when dealing with routine new hires. When the Sheriff has to sue the County Commission in civil court to get funding for new patrol car tires and gas money, you get some idea of the problem.

    So yes, screening new hires is not adequate.

  12. This officer is the poster child for all of the abusive officers throughout the country who can’t seem to understand that they work for us.

  13. If we can’t take the “bully” out of cops, maybe they can be trained by public relations people. A good pr seminar will teach these guys that they must ALWAYS assume they’re being videotaped and act accordingly. Now, we know how they react when they see themselves being taped. However, my educated guess is they are only aware they’re being videotaped maybe 20% of the time. And, that’s often stupid people shooting the video who announce it and have an “in your face” video stance. I will be happy to conduct seminars on surreptitious videotaping and combined w/ the aforementioned pr seminars, we may have a practical solution. I’m always looking for practical solutions.

  14. I am amused by Nicks comment. Because perhaps he is on to something.

    Nothing restrains the people of a business quicker than the expansion of a HR Department. A HR department quickly begins to push pencils, add regulations and require mindless team building exercises as well as behavior altering policies.

    Imagine an HR department setting the rules for officers to abide by. Police everywhere would be restrained very quickly or they would find themselves out of jobs.

  15. Officers go to creative writing school…. This is BS…. Those steps in the house and senate gallery are quite steep…..

  16. The very best justice would be to get a video crew and go to A-hole’s favorite watering hole and catch him out of uniform. Have a tough guy accuse him of beating up an old lady and when the igPay responds kick the apCray out of him– on video. When charged, show both videos to the jury. The guy needs a whippin bad.

  17. Otteray Scribe 1, July 4, 2013 at 10:43 am

    Thanks so very much for your very serious response and critical thoughts. I think there is a question today of motivations that range full spectrum. The personality traits that make a good law enforcement cop in conflict situations can often be confused with just a thug looking for a secure job and a dominating disposition. I know two entire families of cops over the years that seemed to simply run their lives as a private enterprise of connected personal interests. Some of them were just thugs with impunity but when any of them were in trouble they simply drew on connections and banded together. Intimidation was definitely part of this process. Departments are aware of this, but it is the blue line that keeps things as normal.
    Today we are getting a more militarized mentality. Not like the WWII population of individuals who all seemed to have a collective service interest (although they played tough cop in the streets quite well, there was an entirely different rapport in those days). But today the candidates are indoctrinated with several versions of the “prove yourself” kind of bravado, and frankly these types are actually being selected for their intensity rather than screened for a sense of social responsibility. Some of them like the connections itself and feel invulnerable with a uniform on.
    When a cop sees all the negative sides of the world on a regular basis, it does condition them to feel that the outside world is a battle ground of sorts an everyone is guilty until proven innocent. The man or woman that comes into the force with that attitude to begin with is the problem.

  18. Trooper’s statement: “This offense was committed against the peace and dignity of The State of Texas.”

    Didn’t realize that things such as peace and dignity truly existed in Texas. I would say that if that statement is really in the papers he filed, he needs to be arrested himself for making fasle statements in a sworn affidavit.

  19. traveling limey, I am hoping that it’s sarcasm. I first read a post of his a few days ago and I wondered myself. I’m usually pretty good at deciding when one’s tounge is planted in ones cheek, so I HOPE it’s sarcasm. However, I fear he might be serious.

  20. Why is that the abusive police officer in these types of situations are rarely named? Name and shame!

  21. Forgive me for stating the obvious, but this shows how law enforcement in Texas behaves when the eyes of the world are upon them. Now you have just an inkling of what goes on when they aren’t.

  22. Dredd puts it succinctly and precisely. The only way this bully gets his comeuppance is at the hands of a knowing judge. Or in a place outside his jurisdiction when he confronts the wrong person face to face. Let’s hope he meets me some day, while he is misbehaving, on neutral ground. It’s not that I would decide to act, but that I couldn’t stop myself if I witness bad behavior!

  23. “Peace and Dignity of the State of Texas”….hah! If it takes beating up and brutalizing Grannies, given every other thing that truly needs addressed in Texas, to make those poor genteel uniformed cops feel a tad safer then Texas can kiss my grits…..

  24. “Thug” is the first word that comes to my mind (right you are Gene), followed by “sue”. The video clearly contradicts the report. He made a point of treating her brutally.

    Kraaken, right. I nearly choked when I read that.

  25. [music] The eyes of Texas are upon you..
    All the live long day!

    What I don’t get is why the people present there did not caution this schmuck to lay off the old lady and restrain himself. He needs to go to prison and get a whippin every day.

  26. Welcome to the Police State of the USA. But this is merely the beginning. A bit further down the line, the next logical steps in the process of the abrogation of civil rights will be something along the lines of the following (from Sergei Eisenstein’s 1925 masterpiece, Battleship Potemkin):

  27. Officer says the slap was “offensive”. I didn’t know offensive was a crime. He took this personally from the get go it appears.
    (and I immediately read Ricardo’s comment to be sarcasm)

  28. “She attempted to resist by grabbing the chair…”


    This isn’t just a case of a police officer being overly aggressive. It’s a case of an officer being resoundingly socially ignorant. Has he never had any contact with an elderly person? The last few years before my elderly mother passed away, her routine for getting out of a chair was to very firmly grip the arm rests and slowly push herself up. This officer had the patience of a two year old.

  29. Following up through some of the above alternative YouTube offerings I came across several that are excessive. This is one

  30. But this one is beyond all belief: Multiple Marshals and a Woman Court Judge does nothing! Woman Sexually Assaulted in Court Gets Arrested for speaking up!

  31. the “top comment” from the above legal atrocity states:
    Top Comments

    by Tyler Durden 1 week ago

    “If you are outraged, call the Clark County Court at (702) 455-1500 and request that the Hearing Master Patricia Doninger be fired on grounds of incompetence and failure to uphold justice. Or call Patrica Doninger Domestic Violence Commissioner at (702) 455-2434 and ask for her resignation. Her job is to protect citizens in the court and uphold the law. She is obviously unfit for her position. She knows that there was no probable cause for a search and that it was done illegally. Thumbs up.”

  32. Bruce, The conduct of that court and staff is abominable. Patricia Doninger should indeed be fired. Totally outrageous.

  33. I see myself in that feisty older lady and think I’ll add some bricks to my purse when I got out protesting some day. Looks like we ought to be prepared better than just toting a purse.

  34. It only gets worse:

    LAS VEGAS (CN) – Henderson police arrested a family for refusing to let officers use their homes as lookouts for a domestic violence investigation of their neighbors, the family claims in court……. It continues: “At 10:45 a.m. defendant Officer Christopher Worley (HPD) contacted plaintiff Anthony Mitchell via his telephone. Worley told plaintiff that police needed to occupy his home in order to gain a ‘tactical advantage’ against the occupant of the neighboring house. Anthony Mitchell told the officer that he did not want to become involved and that he did not want police to enter his residence. Although Worley continued to insist that plaintiff should leave his residence, plaintiff clearly explained that he did not intend to leave his home or to allow police to occupy his home. Worley then ended the phone call.

    It continues: “The officers banged forcefully on the door and loudly commanded Anthony Mitchell to open the door to his residence.
    “Surprised and perturbed, plaintiff Anthony Mitchell immediately called his mother (plaintiff Linda Mitchell) on the phone, exclaiming to her that the police were beating on his front door.
    “Seconds later, officers, including Officer Rockwell, smashed open plaintiff Anthony Mitchell’s front door with a metal ram as plaintiff stood in his living room.
    “As plaintiff Anthony Mitchell stood in shock, the officers aimed their weapons at Anthony Mitchell and shouted obscenities at him and ordered him to lie down on the floor…..

    There is a lot more to the story, and it actually gets worse. Story at the link:

  35. Here is my analysis.

    I don’t know what preceded this video so I don’t have enough information to give an opinion on whether the arrest was lawful, that is if she was arrested for trespassing or what the original offense was.

    As for the resisting arrest and assault on LEO charge. This is not something I would have done.

    I might wonder how much of this “resisting” was caused by the officer yanking her around.

    Another question was how long she was sitting and holding onto the chair. If it was several minutes I might see that but if it was 30 seconds, which I am speculating, that doesn’t cut it in my book for resisting. I also don’t see what the exigency was to run people out of this gallery so fast it would constitute an arrest here if she was just slow to react.

    I believe the strike of the officer with the purse was intentional, but unless the officer was injured or suffered real pain in my opinion is that it does not amount to a level sufficient for an assault charge.

    Also, one of the things they teach, or should teach, rookies in the academy is to not make such an outrageous arrest, either by being uncivilized or what, that the crowd turns on you and now you are in a world of hurt. That is a lesson that could have been useful for these guys.

  36. Chuck.

    The link you provided just above describes some very disturbing practices by the LEOs. I found it interesting the plaintiffs were seeking damages for among other things violating their 3rd amendment rights. I was thinking the same issue myself but it would be interesting to see if applies to officers as it does soldiers.

  37. Darren,
    Regardless of whether the arguments are on the fourth or third amendment, the whole episode is one of those “shocks the conscience” kind of cases.

  38. When a trooper says move you should interpret that to mean get up and move right now without delay otherwise you are failing to follow his orders.

  39. When I watched what she did she should have been arrested. They should also have left her in jail to think about her actions for awhile.

  40. Darren: “Another question was how long she was sitting and holding onto the chair. ”

    She reached down to get her belongings and then was immediately yanked up by the cop. This was physical abuse of the woman. Really, you need to look at the video again, without the rose-colored glasses. She was not resisting, she was complying when she was roughed-up. The fact that she was the last to ‘leave’ I can explain instantly- she was old enough to be prudent and not wanting to possibly be jostled by a moving crowd for fear of falling. My mother was always the last to get up and move away from a table etc. for just that reason at the same age.

    If the cops are going to start treating old people like prima facie criminals for their frailties then just – you know, those banned words. This was outrageous and she’s lucky he didn’t break her arm. But old codgers bruise easy- I bet she was black and blue where he grabbed her. I’d put money on it. I know how easy it is to do first-hand. I could have moved her along without conflict, with respect, and helped her comply without a second thought. If the ‘professional’ couldn’t then it’s his bad. And obviously from the report v. the video, the cop lied. She did not resist but was moving along (women have to gather their bags) when he got physical.

    And I’m tired of hearing about all the good cops out there. Serpico said in an interview I saw 30 years ago that he would not have worked for the commission if he could do it all over. he said he’d just arrest the first cop he saw break the law and every one thereafter. he’d just do his job. Yea, way to go. If all the good cops did that it would put an end to the BS in 30 days or less. Just do the job.

    I’m really just tired of hearing baseless scenarios that let cops off the hook for obviously indefensible behaviour. Just look at the video. They are out of control. I stopped calling cops “pigs” 40 years ago but I’m out of patience and seriously re-thinking that action. Maybe if I can go more than one day without reading or seeing at least 1 story (generally more) of police behaviour that would land any commentator on this blawg before a judge I’d have less vitriol.

    Bah, humbug.

  41. I agree with lotta. The woman was probably waiting for the crowd to clear so she wouldn’t get jostled. She was trying to collect her stuff and would have left without issue if the bully-thug had just left her alone. She may have had range of motion issues which would have made his twisting of her arms even more painful. As we get older some of us lose the agility and balance we once had that allows us to keep our balance when pushed around. We can only wonder what would have happened if his pushing her around resulted in her ending up on the floor. If he did it to me, he would have had to pick me up or shoot me for disobeying his bs orders.

    The only charges should be against the cop.

    “This offense was committed against the peace and dignity of The State of Texas.” Strange words to have together in one sentence.

  42. LottaKatz:

    I think I might have not been clear. I am not defending these officers in what they did, I was simply pointing out that if the had directed this woman to leave and she refused and clung to the chair for several minutes after she was told she was under arrest I could understand the resisting arrest charge. HOWEVER, that is entirely dependent upon active resistence and not simply being unable to move quick enough. Even if that was the case the rough treatment of this woman in my view does not justify the actions.

    One could also wonder if this woman was so much disobeying the law that she was forcibly arrested then what of those others in the video who were standing around were’nt arrested either. My guess is that this woman didn’t move fast enough for that guy that put the cuffs on her and his ego got the best of him and he acted like a thug.

  43. Re: the Mitchell case linked to by Otteray Scribe, as well as the case of the young mother who was arrested after complaining to the judge about sexual assault (Bruce E. Woych linked video) both these appear to be the “work” of police agencies in the Las Vegas area. I suppose anything truly goes out there; it is a place I shall avoid. The distressing thing is that the same scenarios can play out in thousands of jurisdictions nationwide. When did we decide that crime was so bad that our civil liberties no longer count and that the police should have unlimited power?

  44. Can’t wait until he or his mother gets rickety arthritic bones. Let us see if he gets it. He is cruel, he could have helped her get up and escorted her out like a gentleman instead of a thug. I can barely stand and it hurts like the devil. Does that mean I can’t participate in life? No, it just takes longer! They say that youth is wasted on the young, I know what that means? You all will someday!

  45. Dead thread probably, but, for future reference of the commentariat here, an explication of the nym “ricardocabeza”, might be in order: “ricardo”=”richard”=”d**k”; “cabeza”=”head. So, we have here a guy who refers to himself as “d**khead”. Whatever his merits, or lack thereof, he doesn’t seem to suffer from too much self-esteem.

  46. William – not quite dead… and a marvelous insight. But I bet he’s got a terrific sense of humor.


    Public Affairs Books / By Radley Balko

    “They Throw Kids on the Ground, Put Guns to Their Heads” — The Horrors Unleashed by Police Militarization
    July 10, 2013 |

    The following is an excerpt from RISE OF THE WARRIOR COP: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces [3] by Radley Balko. Reprinted with permission from PublicAffairs Books.

    Betty Taylor still remembers the night it all hit her.

    As a child, Taylor had always been taught that police officers were the good guys.

  48. Thanks leejcaroll: Here is still another case that is just too much, and it appears to involve soft coverup as well.

  49. Not the right man, in the bed, and they found it to be justified????? At some point people hopefully will realize this money that gets paid out for these lawsuits comes out of everybody’s pocket. (Since it seems that money is usually what makes people take notice)
    (ON one of the morning shows they were telling a story about someone who died, I wish I could recall the specifics of the story but cannot). The anchors indicated it was sad someone died then added but it is really effecting business as though that was more important then life lost.)

  50. the trooper is a punk yanking her for trying to get up not fast enough. then violantly yanking her arm. and intentionaly blocking the camera. which shows no assalt, on her part trying to get her purse. and dropping it when roughed up in handcuffs. her purse was under arm pit.

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