In a video of the incident, Kaufman County Sheriff's Deputy Conner Martin has Antanique Ray’s daughter Nekia Trigg pinned on her back beneath him. The officer holds Trigg’s arms down with his elbows, using his hands to press hers into the grass.
Ray, 41, squats beside them. At one point Ray reaches out in an apparent attempt to hold her daughter’s hand. Martin shouts, “Do not touch me. Back up.”
“Calm down, just calm down,” Ray tells him.
As Trigg struggles to breathe beneath Martin, Ray says, “You don’t have to do her like this.”
“She’s trying to jump in front of traffic,” Martin responded.
Martin, who is white, was responding to 911 calls from a housing development in Forney, about a half-hour east of Dallas. The calls reported that a “young lady” was “throwing herself out on the road” in what looked “like a possible suicide.”
Trigg and her mother, who are Black, insisted she was not attempting suicide. So did other bystanders, including Trigg’s sister, who filmed the cell phone footage of the interaction.
In the video, two deputies flip Trigg to her back and handcuff her. Ray walks beside her daughter and appears to be holding her handcuffed hand as the deputies lead her away. After a few moments, Martin attempts to separate Ray from Trigg, shouting, “Let go of her.”
Seconds later, Martin tackles Ray, pinning her facedown on the asphalt while cuffing her hands behind her. Ray was later charged for allegedly assaulting a police officer; Nekia Trigg was brought to a hospital for mental evaluation.
The day before, the Sheriff’s Office issued a statement defending Martin’s use of the technique.
“In an effort to prevent the female from running into traffic or sustaining an injury, Deputy Martin executed a control technique taught by the Kaufman County Sheriff’s Office," the statement reads. "A Top Mount is commonly used in jiu jitsu and allows the deputy to control the lower body without impeding breathing and prevents injury to both parties."
"If he thought that Nekia was trying to harm herself, throwing her to the ground and sitting on her chest was not the way to fix that.” - Dominique Alexander, Next Generation Action Network
In the video, Trigg can be heard telling Martin several times that she cannot breathe.
“This maneuver is not something that American police are trained to do. But this officer saw the fit to actually do it,” Dominique Alexander, president of the Dallas-based activist group Next Generation Action Network, said at a press conference last week.
“If he thought that Nekia was trying to harm herself, throwing her to the ground and sitting on her chest was not the way to fix that,” he said.
Next Generation Action Network is calling for Martin’s termination, and for charges against Ray to be dropped.
Across Texas, cities and counties have instituted programs that aim to reduce the especially high risk of violence between police and those in possible mental health crises by dispatching unarmed mental health clinicians alongside or instead of police.
In Dallas, police have partnered with Parkland Hospital and Dallas PD since 2018 to send unarmed clinicians to respond to possible crises like Trigg’s. (Trigg's family's lawyer told CNN that Trigg was not suicidal.) The South Dallas pilot program was so successful in reducing psychiatric hospital admissions that officials expanded RIGHT Care to cover the entire city in February.
A spokesperson for the Forney Police Department said it doesn't operate any such program, but that "we do see the need for it."
The Kaufman County Sheriff's Office didn't respond to inquiries about what mental health crisis programs, if any, operate countywide.