It was November 2016, and then-20-year-old Henry Newson had just been released from Harris Methodist Hospital near downtown Fort Worth. “This was a young African American kid with no criminal history, no criminal record,” said his attorney, Matthew Bobo. “He’d been in the hospital for two days and he was waiting for his mom to come pick him up.” Surveillance video obtained by the attorney shows Newson borrowing someone’s phone to call his mother when hospital security approaches him. “I’m just trying to figure out what you’re doing,” a security guard said. “They’re picking me up from here,” Newson explained at one point. “I have nowhere to go.” The conversation starts to escalate. Soon after, off-duty Fort Worth police officer Jon Romer walks up and takes over. On the video, you hear Newson call the officer, “bro.” That’s when Romer punches Newson in the face and tackles him to the ground applying a chokehold. “The officers knew why he was there, he complied with everything they asked him to do, and they still beat him up,” Bobo said.
A grand jury recently indicted Romer for three charges, including aggravated perjury, in connection with the case. He’s on restricted duty at the Fort Worth Police Department. “The whole task force on race and culture came about because of an incident similar to this, Jacqueline Craig, and this is just as horrendous,” said Cory Session, who is part of that task force. He was referring to a December 2016 case in which a Fort Worth police officer, who is white, became physical with a woman and her two children, who are black after they’d called 911. It was all caught on video and went viral. Session said people are so outraged by this latest video, and the fact they’re just now finding out about it, that there’s talk of protests. “You can’t be hiding this type of information,” Session said. Newson was charged back in 2016 with trespassing and resisting arrest, charges that were soon dropped. Fort Worth police, Texas Health Resources, and Officer Romer’s attorney all declined to comment Thursday.