On 20 May 2018, writer and activist Shaun King shared a lengthy Facebook post oncerning the arrest of a woman named Sherita Dixon Cole in Ellis County, Texas, which read (in part):

This woman was kidnapped and raped by a Texas State Trooper — OFFICER HUBBARD, she is now being held hostage in Ellis County Jail!

Sherita Dixon Cole just happens to be a close personal friend of Civil Rights Attorney and my close friend Lee Merritt. These are the facts he was able to get together after speaking with Sherita’s family:

On May 20th, 2018 at approximately 1:30AM Sherita Dixon Cole was pulled over in Waxahachie, TX by a Texas State Trooper— Officer Hubbard, near a abandoned car dealership (I287 South & I35 South). She was told she was being stopped because Hubbard expected she was driving while intoxicated. Cole voluntarily performed and passed all dui/dwi protocol including a breathalyzer. However, Hubbard decided he “didn’t like [her] attitude” and that he was going to take her to jail anyway. He handcuffed her hands behind her back and placed Cole in the front passenger seat of his patrol vehicle. Hubbard then took a seat beside Cole and placed his hand on her thigh. He asked her if she wanted to go home as he hiked up her skirt. He told her that she could earn her way home, if she really wanted to go.

Cole had called her boyfriend to the scene of the stop when she was first pulled over. He arrived just as the officer began to accost her. Hubbard asked Cole who was in the car. When she explained it was her fiancé he asked her was he armed. When she said he was not, Hubbard retorted “If you tell him what happened he will be armed and his fire arm will be visible when I have to shoot him.” Hubbard went out to speak with Cole’s boyfriend and allowed him to speak with her briefly in his presence. She told him that she passed the DUI/DWI protocol but the officer said he was taking her in anyway “because of [her] attitude.” Hubbard immediately ended the conversation and told Cole he was taking her to the Ellis County Jail. Her fiancé told Hubbard that he would follow them to the jail but Hubbard warned him that he could not follow him and would be arrested if he tried. Cole’s fiancé drove a short distance up the road and waited for the officer to head toward the jail.

King subsequently tweeted several updates about Cole’s status, including the following:

On the evening of 20 May 2018, the Texas Department of Public Safety responded via Facebook to the controversy rapidly spreading on social media. In their statement, DPS said video from the arresting officer’s dashboard camera did not support the allegations:

DPS responds to allegations by DWI suspect in Ellis County

Upon learning of the allegations today, the department immediately took action to review the dash cam video. The video shows absolutely no evidence to support the serious accusations against the Trooper during the DWI arrest of the suspect.

DPS will present the video to the DA’s Office to determine if any further action is needed.

The department will release the video to the public if there are no objections by the DA’s Office.

Shortly afterwards, the local newspaper Waxahachie Daily Light published a statement from a Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) staff lieutenant about the incident:

“Upon learning of the allegations today, the department immediately took action to review the dash cam video,” stated Lonny Haschel, Texas DPS staff lieutenant, via email. “The video shows absolutely no evidence to support the serious accusations against the trooper during the DWI arrest of the suspect.”

Haschel added the department would present the video to the Ellis County District Attorney’s Office to determine if any further action is needed. DPS will release the video if there is no objection by Ellis County District Attorney Patrick Wilson.

As of 21 May 2018, Sherita Dixon Cole had been released from the facility to which she was taken after the arrest.

Facebook commenters responding to Texas DPS’s statement questioned whether the arresting officer’s dash cam footage was fully relevant, as they said events reported by Cole might have occurred inside her vehicle and therefore would not have been captured by a dash cam. Other commenters compared Cole’s arrest to the July 2015 traffic stop arrest that preceded the death of Sandra Bland in a Texas jail cell.

On 22 May 2018, the Texas DPS released body cam footage from the incident to the public:

Dallas attorney Lee Merritt, whose office represented Sherita Dixon-Cole, issued a statement saying that the body cam video “directly conflicts with the accounts reported to my office” and shows that “Officer Daniel Hubbard seem[ed] to comport himself professionally during the duration of the traffic stop and arrest and — without more — should be cleared of any wrongdoing”:

A Texas DPS representative also said of the body cam video:

“The video shows absolutely no evidence to support the egregious and unsubstantiated accusations against the Trooper during the DWI arrest of the suspect,” said Lonny Haschel, staff lieutenant with DPS. “The Department is appalled that anyone would make such a despicable, slanderous and false accusation against a peace officer who willingly risks his life every day to protect and serve the public.”

This article was updated on 23 May 2018 to include the released dash cam video and statements about it from Lee Merritt and Texas DPS.

Smith, Travis M. and Andrew Branca.   “Viral Post Spurs Internal Investigation Into Texas State Trooper; DPS Refutes Accusations.”
    Waxahachie Daily Light.   20 May 2018.

Ebrahimji, Alisha.   “DPS Says Body Cam Clears Trooper of Sexual Assault; Accuser’s Attorney Apologizes.”
    WFAA-TV.   23 May 2018.

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