A member of a New Jersey school board has apologized for the tirade against a police officer who pulled her over and for calling the local police chief “a skinhead cop.”
“I had an irrational response to being stopped for a traffic violation. I allowed my emotions to overwhelm me that morning, and I fell short of the standards to which I hold myself,” Stephanie Lawson-Muhammad said in a statement according to NJ.com.
WARNING: GRAPHIC LANGUAGE
The South Orange-Maplewood School Board member can be heard in a profanity-filled rant in a dashcam video of the April 27 traffic stop. She was pulled over for speeding while dropping her child at school and complained about going to court when she was ticketed by South Orange police officer, Shaun Horst.
The school official, who is black, told the white police officer that she’s “scared of cops because you guys hurt black people,” and was heard saying she would “call Sheena … and your skinhead cop chief, too,” apparently referring to South Orange Village President Sheena Collum and Chief Kyle Kroll.
“Like many parents, I was trying to get my children to their schools on time,” Lawson-Muhammad explained in her statement. “When the police officer stopped me, I was upset, frustrated, and uncharacteristically out of sorts. And to my benefit, the officer did not react to my behavior. The officer kept an even tone in our interaction and performed his job well under the circumstances. I thank him for his patience.”
She even apologized to the police chief.
“He is not the person I made him out to be,” Lawson-Muhammad said of Kroll. “He sincerely accepted my apology and agrees that we will work together to help heal our community. We have begun plans to work with community stakeholders to build stronger bonds and greater trust for the entire community.”
Lawson-Muhammad was encouraged to work with Kroll by Board president Elizabeth Baker in order to “repair the harms that her statements caused.”
“This meeting reflects the beginning of a difficult, restorative dialogue. Such a dialogue takes personal courage and a shared commitment to our community,” Baker said in a statement, according to NJ.com.
Some do not believe it should be that easy to move on. Walter Fields has accused Lawson-Muhammad of using her “civic privilege” during a routine traffic stop and has called for her to resign. Fields is chairman of the Black Parents Workshop which has filed a federal lawsuit against the district for allegedly segregating students, prompting a $127 million solution by district leaders.
“The officer should be commended for his professionalism, demeanor and the respect he showed a citizen who immediately attempted to use her position to intimidate him,” Fields wrote in a letter to Baker. “There are real incidents of police misconduct. This was not one of them.”
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