A Fort Worth, Texas, man says he was attacked by police officers in front of his daughters in the early morning of Sunday, Dec. 27, because he refused to allow them to enter his apartment without a warrant.
Now Shamaria Peterson faces a felony assault charge for defending himself from the officers’ onslaught. He was arrested following the Dec. 27 incident, and ordered to spend a day in jail.
“I did nothing wrong to deserve this,” he told Atlanta Black Star during a phone interview Wednesday, Dec. 30. “This is real, this is me. Like it actually happened. It’s not just another video. I’m actually the one in this s–t. I’m actually experiencing it. Like, it doesn’t really hit close to the home until it’s in your home. Me and my child, we have to live through this.”
Peterson posted a video of his encounter with officers on Instagram. The video, which his daughter recorded, spread rapidly on the social media site. By Wednesday, it had been viewed more than 17,000 times.
“I was assaulted by the first officer without so much as throwing a punch or raising my voice in front of my children,” his post stated. “I defended and shielded myself without use of feet or hands while my (13) yr old began recording the incident fearing for my life.”
Peterson, a 33-year-old Louisiana native, said he moved to Fort Worth, Texas, about two years ago for a better life. He’s a barber who goes by the name groomsmithdfw on Instagram.
The ordeal occurred shortly after 2 a.m. Two Fort Worth police officers responded to Peterson’s apartment in north Fort Worth for a domestic disturbance. Neighbors reported that someone in his apartment had been arguing nonstop for two or three hours, according to a summary of the Fort Worth police report.
Peterson said he was in his residence making TikTok dance videos with his two daughters, ages 2 and 13, and 16-year-old “godniece.” He said afterward, the two teenage girls took off to visit an indoor pool in the apartment complex.
A short while later, Peterson heard a knock at the door. It was the police.
Peterson was holding his youngest daughter on his hip when he answered the door. The officers said they were there to investigate a noise complaint and asked to come into the apartment.
“If you ain’t got no warrant, you ain’t coming in,” Peterson said he told them.
After a brief back and forth, Peterson said he tried to close his front door, but one of the officers used his foot to block the doorway. Peterson asked the officers to call their supervisor to the scene and insisted that he wouldn’t let them enter his apartment without a warrant.
That’s when one of the officers told him, “If I get on this phone, it’s going to be bad for you,” Peterson said.
While Peterson was speaking with officers, the two teenage girls returned to the apartment. As they went into the residence, Peterson handed his infant off to his oldest daughter. He said he was closing the door from outside after the teens entered the home when both officers grabbed him from behind and told him he was being detained.
That’s when the struggle ensued. Peterson said when he turned around, one of the officers punched him in his eye.
The punch, he said, caught him by surprise and he couldn’t understand why the officer hit him.
“I was like ‘just because you’ve got a badge, you’re not a gangster. You can’t keep putting your hands on me,’ ” he said. ” ‘You have no reason to detain me. You didn’t ask for my name, you didn’t ask me for my ID. I’ve done nothing wrong. I didn’t pose a threat to you. It’s obviously nothing going on because you just saw my daughter walk in and you didn’t fear for her life. You didn’t say anything, you’re just upset because I didn’t let you in.’ “
Police welfare checks are a gray area of law enforcement. Federal law precludes officers from “all unreasonable seizures or searches.” However, Texas, like many other states, gives police authority to enter a home without a court order to do safety checks when a domestic disturbance is reported.
Yet welfare checks can be dangerous.
In October 2019, a Fort Worth police officer fired a gunshot through a bedroom window that killed Atatiana Jefferson, a 28-year-old Black pre-med graduate student, while responding to a request for a welfare check at her family home.
Jefferson was in the bedroom playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew and armed herself when she heard someone prowling outside the home.
Aaron Dean, the white officer who shot her as she peeked out of the window, did not announce himself as law enforcement. Bodycam footage showed him yell “Put your hands up! Show me your hands!” A second later, he fired the fatal gunshot.
Dean was arrested and indicted for the murder of Jefferson. He remains out of jail on bond awaiting trial. Jefferson’s family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the ex officer and the city of Fort Worth in federal court, according to CBS News.
In his case, Peterson maintains that before attacking him, the officers saw all three of the children who were in his custody at the time, and none of them showed any signs of distress.
The 42-second video clip shows the two policemen working in tandem to restrain Peterson in the hallway outside his front door. One of the officers had his arms wrapped around Peterson’s neck while the other grabbed his right arm.
Seconds into the video, an officer took a swing at Peterson. The punch missed as all three men fell to the ground. His oldest daughter, who’d re-emerged from the apartment, could be heard screaming at that point.
“Nooooo!,” she shrieked. “Record. Record. Record. Record. Record.”
Peterson and the two officers continued to grapple on the ground. As one of the officers maintained his hold on Peterson’s neck, the other stood up and punched Peterson again, this time in the side of his head.
“Leave him alone,” his daughter pleaded. “Leave him alone.”
Peterson said he took off running when he noticed the officer who punched him had drawn his weapon. He said his daughter began screaming when the policeman aimed the weapon at him.
Peterson said he stopped running when he got to the end of the hallway and officers took him into custody. Afterward, when he was in the backseat of a squad car, he said one of the officers commented that their bodycams weren’t on.
“My Queens will never forget this,” Peterson wrote in his Instagram post. “I will never forget this. This happens in #Dfw everyday. This happens to #us everyday.”
He was arrested and charged with assault on a public servant, a third-degree felony, and evading arrest. He spent a day in jail before being released Monday on $2,000 bond, according to court and police records.
He said this is his first criminal offense.
“I’m fighting a case because somebody was fighting on me,” he said. “I have to fight this because that means I can’t get an apartment, I can’t own a gun to protect my family, I can’t have one in my home. You’re pretty much trying to make me be less of a man. You’re treating me like I’m less of a man. I did nothing to make you feel endangered.”
In a subsequent Instagram post Tuesday, Peterson showed a picture of the black eye on his face. He acknowledged that officers have a dangerous job, but said he remained non-threatening and non-combative during the incident.
“Truly, honestly in my heart, I don’t feel like every police is bad,” he told Atlanta Black Star. “If you look at my post, I tried my best not to insinuate a race card whatsoever. I just wanted to bring awareness about the situation. (They) charged me with felony assault and I didn’t even hit that man. That man was assaulting me, which is why my daughter turned around and started recording.”