An attorney is apologizing for spreading allegations that a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper sexually assaulted a woman during a traffic stop and arrest in North Texas. The apology came hours after DPS released two hours of the trooper’s body camera video.
Around 1:30 a.m. Sunday, a state trooper pulled over 37-year-old Sherita Dixon-Cole on suspicion of drunken driving. She told the trooper she was coming from Downtown Dallas and heading to her fiancé’s house in Waxahachie. She said she only had one drink.
During a field sobriety test, the trooper pours out two bottles of alcohol he found in her back seat. He places her under arrest and asks her to sit in the front seat of his patrol vehicle.
That’s the point when Cole said the trooper offered to let her go in return for sexual favors. But that exchange is never heard in the body camera video.
Cole also accused the officer of fondling, groping and sexually assaulting her on the way to jail. But those claims are also not supported by the video.
Hours after her arrest, well-known civil rights activist Shaun King wrote on Facebook and Twitter, “This woman was kidnapped and raped by a Texas State Trooper.” King included a detailed explanation of the claims as explained by Cole and her attorney, Lee Merritt.
King’s posts accusing the state trooper of sexual assault were shared on social media nearly 80,000 times. They have since been deleted.
DPS responded to the accusations late Tuesday night by releasing the video in full. The only parts that were blurred or rendered inaudible were those where personal identification information is shared. That information is considered confidential by a state statute, DPS said.
“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,” the department said.
Cole’s attorney apologized early Wednesday morning.
“It is deeply troubling when innocent parties are falsely accused and I am truly sorry for any trouble these claims may have caused,” Merritt wrote on Facebook.
Merritt said he does not believe the video from DPS was edited or tampered with in any way. He watched it in full and does believe the trooper acted professionally during the stop and the arrest.
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