A public official was caught on camera using foul language and calling a police chief a “skinhead.”
Stephanie Lawson-Muhammad, a member of the South Orange-Maplewood School Board in New Jersey, can be can be heard using profanity after being issued with tickets by South Orange police officer Shaun Horst.
When Horst tells her she is getting court summons for speeding and not having a valid insurance card, Lawson-Muhammad responds: “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.”
She explains to the officer that, having just been on the phone with her husband, he was able to send over a picture of the valid insurance card, Horst replied that he cannot void a ticket that has already been written. To this, Lawson-Muhammad says she “call Sheena…and your skinhead cop chief, too,”—which appears to refer to high-ranking town officials South Orange Village President Sheena Collum and village Police Chief Kyle Kroll.
In a prior part of the dashcam video, Lawson-Muhammad, who is black, can also be heard telling the police officer that she’s “scared of cops because you guys hurt black people.”
At one point, the officer asks her if she needs an ambulance because she appears to be having a “panic attack.” She responds that she does not, and says, “that’s an insult,” and subsequently uses profanity.
Lawson-Muhammad and Maplewood South Orange School Board spokesperson Suzanne Turner did not respond to requests for comment, reports NJ.com.
Walter Fields, Chairman of local advocacy group the Black Parents Workshop, condemned Lawson-Muhammad’s actions via a statement (pdf) on May 16:
“Ms. Lawson-Muhammad must issue a public apology to this officer. Given the lengths to which efforts are underway nationwide and locally to address the real issue of police brutality against African Americans, it is appalling that this Board Member would conduct herself in this way,” he said in the statement. The group called for her resignation from the board.
The statement says:
“The officer should be commended for his professionalism, demeanor and the respect he showed a citizen who immediately tried to use her position to intimidate him.”