Fort Worth officer in viral arrest video was 'rude not racist': chief

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AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - The white Fort Worth police officer seen on viral video wrestling to the ground and arresting a black woman who called police to report a neighbor choking her son is not a racist, the city's police chief said on Friday.

The Facebook live video seen more than 2.5 million times ignited nationwide rage, with many saying the reason for the arrest was racial bias. City officials told a news conference they will investigate the matter thoroughly.

"I can't call it racism," Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald told the news conference, saying the officer did not handle the situation properly and was rude.

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Protest after Fort Worth arrest video goes viral
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Protest after Fort Worth arrest video goes viral

A crowd gathers to protest against the Fort Worth Police Department at the Tarrant County Courthouse on Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas. A white FWPD officer arrested a black woman and her two teenage daughters Wednesday after the woman called police because she needed help. The incident was captured on cell phone video that has gone viral.

(Joyce Marshall/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS via Getty Images)

A crowd gathers to protest against the Fort Worth Police Department at the Tarrant County Courthouse on Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas. A white FWPD officer arrested a black woman and her two teenage daughters Wednesday after the woman called police because she needed help. The incident was captured on cell phone video that has gone viral.

(Joyce Marshall/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS via Getty Images)

Fort Worth Police move in toward the end of the rally after a disturbance in the crowd gathered to protest against the Fort Worth police at the Tarrant County Courthouse on Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas. A white FWPD officer arrested a black woman and her two teenage daughters Wednesday after the woman called police because she needed help. The incident was captured on cell phone video that has gone viral.

(Joyce Marshall/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS via Getty Images)

A crowd gathers to protest against the Fort Worth Police Department at the Tarrant County Courthouse on Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas. A white FWPD officer arrested a black woman and her two teenage daughters Wednesday after the woman called police because she needed help. The incident was captured on cell phone video that has gone viral.

(Joyce Marshall/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS via Getty Images)

A crowd gathers to protest against the Fort Worth Police Department at the Tarrant County Courthouse on Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas. A white FWPD officer arrested a black woman and her two teenage daughters Wednesday after the woman called police because she needed help. The incident was captured on cell phone video that has gone viral.

(Joyce Marshall/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS via Getty Images)

Minister Dominique Alexander, president and founder of Next Generation Action Network, speaks to the crowd gathered to protest against the Fort Worth police at the Tarrant County Courthouse on Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas. A white FWPD officer arrested a black woman and her two teenage daughters Wednesday after the woman called police because she needed help. The incident was captured on cell phone video that has gone viral.

(Joyce Marshall/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS via Getty Images)

A crowd gathers to protest against the Fort Worth Police Department at the Tarrant County Courthouse on Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas. A white FWPD officer arrested a black woman and her two teenage daughters Wednesday after the woman called police because she needed help. The incident was captured on cell phone video that has gone viral.

(Joyce Marshall/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS via Getty Images)

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"There is a difference between rude and racism," he said. The city promised a through investigation.

The woman in the video, Jacqueline Craig, 46, and the officer argued about a man she said had choked her 7-year-old son for throwing paper on the ground.

In the video, the officer calmly says, "Why don't you teach your son not to litter?"

The comment angered Craig. She told the officer he should be more concerned about a man who choked her son rather than whether the child littered.

As one of her daughters steps between the officer and her mother, the officer wrestles Craig to the ground and places a stun gun in her back. He arrested the mother and two of her daughters on charges including resisting arrest.

After the arrest, the officer was subject to racial taunts and profanity from bystanders, the video showed. He was placed on restrictive duty status.

Craig told reporters ahead of the news conference that she thought she was doing the right thing in seeking the help from police to report someone choking her child.

"It made me feel less of a parent that I couldn't protect him when he needed it," she said after being released from jail.

Her lawyer has called for the officer to be fired and prosecuted, and for the city to drop charges against Craig and her daughters.

City officials said they have also launched an investigation into the incident that prompted Craig to call police, the matter of a neighbor allegedly choking her child.

"In my opinion, that should have been the focus," Fitzgerald said.

A series of videos showing officers using deadly force against unarmed African-Americans in recent years has touched off protests and raised questions of racial bias in U.S. policing.

RELATED: Children caught up in race relations, political protests

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Children caught up in race relations, political protests
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Children caught up in race relations, political protests
Eight year-old Angelo Estes Jr. calls for the arrest of Officer Betty Shelby, who shot dead unarmed motorist Terence Crutcher, with other protesters outside the Tulsa Police headquarters in Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S. September 20, 2016. REUTERS/Nick Oxford TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Nyla Joseph, 9, a daughter of a U.S. military veteran demonstrates with veterans outside U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's news conference outside Trump Tower in New York, U.S., May 31, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
Malakai McCoy, age 3 years, gets a touch-up from his mother Maybelline McCoy as he and his sister Amayah McCoy hold a sign next to their baby stroller during the 'Our Generation, Our Choice' protest in downtown Washington November 9, 2015. The Monday march to highlight race, climate, and immigration issues was timed to mark exactly one year until the 2016 U.S. presidential election, according to protesters. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
UNITED STATES - JULY 25: A boy bikes with a march made up of mostly Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., on Broad St., en route to the security perimeter of the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pa., on the first day of the Democratic National Convention, July 25, 2016. The march ended near FDR Park and featured demonstrators supporting a variety of issues. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
MANHATTAN, NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2015/11/22: Kids with Tamir Rice signs. Stop Mass Incarcerations Network sponsored a children's march demanding accountability on the one year anniversary of Tamir Rice's death at the hands of the Cleveland police. (Photo by Andy Katz/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
BROOKLYN, NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2016/01/18: Trio of young protesters with hand-lettered sign. Hundreds of Brooklyn residents gathered in Bay Ridge at the site of an alleged bias attack for a march entitled 'Muslims Our Neighbors' in support of Bay Ridge's Islamic community. (Photo by Andy Katz/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
BROOKLYN, NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2016/02/20: Asian girls with hand-lettered signs in support of Peter Liang. Dozens of activists associated with Black Lives Matter demonstrated in opposition to a massive rally staged by the coalition against Asian discrimination in support of convicted NYPD officer Peter Liang. (Photo by Andy Katz/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
MANHATTAN, NEW YORK, NY, UNITED STATES - 2016/01/15: A child among the demonstrators waives an Oromian flag. Several hundred Ethiopian-American demonstrators from around the U.S. gathered opposite United Nations Headquarters in New York City to express their anger over the recent deaths of over 140 protesters in Ethiopia at the hands of government security forces sent to contain the protests over the Addis Abba 'master plan.'. (Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
STATEN ISLAND, NEW YORK, NY, UNITED STATES - 2016/07/17: Eric Garner's infant daughter Legacy Garner holds a sign bearing the name of Officer Panataleo. On the second anniversary of the death of Eric Garner during his attempted arrest by NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo, Black Lives Matter coalition members and supporters gathered at the site of his death on Bay Street and then marched on to the 120th Precinct of the NYPD intermittently practicing civil disobedience as NYPD Community Affairs officers attempted to regulate the march, in Tompkinsville, Staten Island. (Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
BROOKLYN, NEW YORK CITY, UNITED STATES - 2016/02/25: Little protester with elephant sign. Animal care activists gathered in front of Barclay's Center to protest on the opening night of Ringling Brothers' circus against the circus use and treatment of animals in the show. (Photo by Andy Katz/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
DAG HAMMARSKJOLD PLAZA, NEW YORK, NY, UNITED STATES - 2016/05/01: Members of the metro-area Syrian-American community rally for the ouster of Bashar Al-Assad. An ad hoc collective of Syrian-Americans and supporters from New York and New Jersey held a rally in Dag Hammarskjold Skjold Plaza near United Nations Headquarters in solidarity with similar protests worldwide on May Day to draw attention to as-yet failed attempt to impose a ceasefire in Syria and demand the immediate ouster of the Syrian Arabic Republic's President Bashar Al-Assad. (Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
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(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz and Lisa Maria Garza)

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