Updated: Wednesday, May 23, 2018, 4:35 a.m. EDT: The Texas Department of Public Safety has released dashcam footage that appears to counter allegations made by Sherita Dixon-Cole that Officer Daniel Hubbard sexually assaulted her during a May 20 traffic stop, her attorney S. Lee Merritt said in a statement released 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 Officer Hubbard and his family. I take full responsibility for amplifying these claims to the point of national concern. ... Our goal in presenting claims of misconduct is to arrive as quickly and as accurately as possible to the truth,” Merritt wrote in a Facebook post.
“We are thankful to the members of the community willing to echo our demands for transparency and justice. However, in this matter it seems your righteous vigilance was abused,” he continued.
Read Merritt’s full statement below:
Upon review of what appears to be the full traffic stop, The Root detected no evidence of wrongdoing on Hubbard’s part.
“The video shows absolutely no evidence to support the egregious and unsubstantiated accusations against the trooper during the DWI arrest of the suspect. 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,” read a statement released by the Texas Department of Public Safety.
View the footage below:
Lying about rape and sexual assault is wrong and makes the world that much more difficult for vulnerable victims who deserve justice. Still, #MeToo movement founder Tarana Burke, who was among the first to publicly support Dixon-Cole, tweeted that while Dixon-Cole may have lied about being sexually assaulted, police violence against black women is still an urgent issue, and we must continue to show up when allegations are made.
The truth—that black women and women of color are still disproportionately sexually assaulted by police officers—remains intact.
Daniel Hubbard, an officer with the Texas Department of Public Safety, allegedly sexually assaulted Sherita Dixon-Cole, 37, of Waxahachie, Texas, during a traffic stop, and Dixon-Cole has retained the law offices of civil rights attorney S. Lee Merritt to represent her in her fight for justice.
On May 20, at approximately 1:30 a.m., Hubbard pulled over Dixon-Cole allegedly because he suspected that she was intoxicated. As Hubbard administered a field-sobriety test, Hubbard told Dixon-Cole that he would allow her to go home in exchange for sex, according to Merritt’s office.
Dixon-Cole declined, and what allegedly followed is even more terrifying than the initial morally corrupt and illegal proposition.
According to a press release issued by Merritt’s office, once Dixon-Cole declined, Hubbard handcuffed her and took her to his patrol car where he then “forcibly groped, fondled, and vaginally penetrated Dixon-Cole during a prolonged arrest that included assaults inside and outside of [Hubbard’s] police vehicle.”
Afraid that potential violence was looming, Dixon-Cole had called her fiance as soon as she was pulled over. When he arrived at the scene, Hubbard allowed him to speak briefly with Dixon-Cole but would not release her.
Dixon-Cole’s fiance allegedly attempted to follow Hubbard as he transported her to the Wayne McCollum Detention Center in Ellis County, Texas, but lost sight of the police vehicle. During the time that he was searching for her, Dixon-Cole claims that Hubbard took her to a remote location where he attempted to rape her. Hubbard allegedly stopped his assault because he grew tired of Dixon-Cole’s resistance and took her to jail.
Dixon-Cole claims he told her that she was being arrested for “having an attitude.”
Upon her release on May 21, six hours after her family posted the required bail, Dixon-Cole went directly to the hospital to receive medical treatment and to “preserve any evidence of the assault,” according to the press release.
According to Merritt, the Texas Department of Public Safety was derelict in its duty to investigate Dixon-Cole’s claims immediately and thoroughly by not following protocol, which includes providing medical treatment and confiscating Hubbard’s “uniform, patrol car and other equipment” for evidence.
“I am personally outraged by Ms. Dixon-Cole’s treatment—not only due to the horrible assault allegations, but in how her claim has been handled by the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Wayne McCollum Detention Center where she first reported the attack,” Merritt said in an exclusive statement to The Root.
“We have an obligation to take claims of sexual assault seriously and to follow the proper protocol to preserve evidence. The state has failed to meet this obligation,” Merritt continued.
The Texas Department of Public Safety released the following statement in response to Dixon-Cole’s claims:
Upon learning of the allegations today, the department immediately took action to review the dashcam 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 [District Attorney’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.
The video has yet to be released.
According to Merritt, Dixon-Cole alleges that Hubbard took steps to “obscure video evidence and to avoid dashcam recordings.”
Unfortunately, sexual assault at the hands of police officers is not unique.
Sexual misconduct is the second-highest form of police misconduct in the nation after excessive force. According to a 2007 report prepared for the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, “rape and sexual abuse by police [in the United States] are primarily reported by women of color.”
Additionally, nearly a thousand police officers have been stripped of their badges for sexual misconduct, according to a yearlong investigation conducted by the Associated Press, which found that in a six-year period—2008-2014—these officers were guilty of “rape, sodomy and other sexual assault; sex crimes that included possession of child pornography; or sexual misconduct such as propositioning citizens or having consensual but prohibited on-duty intercourse.”
But we can go all the way back to 1949—and, of course, before, but let’s start there. That year, Gertrude Perkins was abducted and raped by two white police officers in Montgomery, Ala.
The officers accused her of “public drunkenness,” just as Dixon-Cole was, and pushed her into the back of their squad car and drove her to a railroad embankment, where they raped her behind a building. Perkins was then dumped at a bus stop and warned to keep her mouth shut.
“Black women are routinely killed, raped and beaten by the police,” wrote Kimberlé Crenshaw, director of Columbia Law School’s Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies and co-founder of the African American Policy Forum, in the 2015 report, “#SayHerName: Resisting Police Brutality Against Black Women.”
Even though now-former Oklahoma City Police Officer Daniel Holtzclaw was sentenced to 263 years in prison for the rapes and sexual assaults of seven black women and one underage black girl, for years, he was allowed to terrorize vulnerable women in the community. According to prosecutors, he abused his power to target the ones so terrified of police—or resigned to the fact that the system is designed to protect officers and white America, not black victims—that he knew he could threaten them with jail if they dared to refuse or report him.
As I’ve written previously, black women have always, always found themselves at the intersection of state and sexual violence, because this country teaches men—those with power and those without—that black women are disposable. Dixon-Cole’s case is the one we’re talking about today, but these egregious, dehumanizing crimes are taking place in communities across this country.
She deserves justice—every single victim of sexual assault does, regardless of their socioeconomic status or whether or not they are considered “respectable” in the eyes of a misogynoir-ist society.
As Andrea Ritchie, author of Invisible No More: Police Violence Against Black Women and Women of Color, which I believe to be required reading for anyone who cares about this issue, said in a 2017 interview:
[O]ne significant reason for invisibility of police violence against black women and women of color [is] because it’s happening in private spaces—in clinics, in homes, in welfare offices, in the back seats of patrol cars, in vacant lots, in precincts—and we are not seeing it in the same ways of the kind of public stop and frisk or the public excessive force or the public shootings that we see more often for black and brown men.
That is the ugly truth, but Dixon-Cole’s story will not be invisible.