School official calls police chief 'skinhead' during traffic stop
Police dashcam footage caught the moment a New Jersey school board member threatened to call an officer's "skinhead cop chief" during a traffic stop.
The police video shows an officer pulling over Stephanie Lawson-Muhammad, member of the South Orange-Maplewood School Board, on April 27, NJ.com reported. The cop says that Lawson-Muhammad was going 37 miles per hour in a 25 mph zone.
"I'm sorry if I was speeding," she says. "I didn't realize I was speeding."
Lawson-Muhammad, who is black, asks the officer whether her child in the front seat can get out and walk to school. The cop says the child can leave the car, the video shows, and the woman starts to cry before saying, "I’m scared of cops because you guys hurt black people."
As her child exits the vehicle, the white officer remarks that "it looks like you might be having a panic attack" and asks Lawson-Muhammad if he should call her an ambulance, the video shows.
She called that a "f------ insult" and refused.
He asks for Lawson-Muhammad's insurance card, but the school board member allegedly could only provide the officer with an expired one. She asks what police department the officer is with, the video shows, and the officer responds "South Orange."
After that answer, Lawson-Muhammad is then heard saying, "I'll call Sheena." NJ.com reports that the South Orange Village president is named Sheena Collum.
The cop heads back to his vehicle for a few minutes before returning.
He tells Lawson-Muhammad that she has a court summons for speeding and failing to have a valid insurance card, the video shows. The woman then appears to call her husband on speakerphone, and he says that he has the proper insurance card with him.
But the cop said that she will still have to go to court and prove she has the necessary identification.
That appeared to further upset Lawson-Muhammad, the video shows.
She is heard saying, "for me to have to go to court, for me to have to go to court, now you want me to go to court? I don’t want to go to court, I have insurance. Then I’ll call Sheena."
"That’s fine, and you’re more than welcome to do that," the cop responds.
"And your skinhead cop chief, too," Lawson-Muhammad adds.
He then tells the woman to drive safely, she says, "You, too," and they part ways.
Walter Fields — president of SOMA Black Parents Workshop, which he says works "to repair the relationship between law enforcement and the African-American community" — condemned the school board member's actions in a statement to Patch.com.
"If the situation was reversed, and an officer behaved in this manner toward an African-American civilian," he said, "we would have taken the officer and the department to task. We can be no less outraged under the present circumstances."
The organization told News12 that Lawson-Muhammad should resign.
Orange resident Christine Rivera told CBS2 that she thinks Lawson-Muhammad's "skinhead" comment is "racist."
“I don’t think anybody should call anybody any kind of name,” she said.
The school board and Lawson-Muhammad did not respond to a request for comment, multiple outlets reported.