‘Skinhead cop!’ NJ school official freaks out in traffic stop — VIDEO
SOUTH ORANGE — A group of black parent activists are calling on a black school board member to step down after she was caught on video calling a white police officer's chief a “skinhead cop” during a traffic stop.
Stephanie Lawson-Muhammad was pulled over April 27 after an officer found her driving 37 mph in a 25 mph zone.
When the officer approached her driver-side window, Lawson-Muhammad begins by pointing out that she is on the Board of Education.
She then quickly breaks down into tears, saying that her daughter is going to be late for school “and I’m scared of cops.”
When the officer asks if he should call her an ambulance because she appears to be having a panic attack, she snaps back: “That’s a f*****g insult!”
After he writes her a ticket for speeding and not having a valid insurance card — but not one for not having a driver’s license after she is finally able to find it — Lawson-Muhammad argues with him about the insurance violation.
She concludes by saying she would call "Sheena" — South Orange Village President Sheena C. Collum — "and your skinhead cop chief, too."
On Wednesday, the South Orange-Maplewood Black Parents Workshop released a copy of the dash-cam video and called on Lawson-Muhammad to “issue a public apology to this officer.”
“If the situation was reversed, and an officer behaved in this manner toward an African-American civilian, we would have taken the officer and the department to task,” SOMA Black Parents Workshop Chairman Walter Fields said in a letter Wednesday to South Orange-Maplewood school board President Elizabeth Baker.
Fields said Lawson-Muhammad “attempted to exercise her civic privilege” during the traffic stop.
“To his credit, the officer remains calm and proceeds to act in accordance with his duties,” Fields’ letter says.
Fields’ group has been working to improve police-community relations following a 2016 incident in which the then-chief of the Maplewood police ordered cops to march black teens, who lived in the municipality, out of town.
The township suspended Chief Robert Cimino and Capt. Joshua Cummins last year for their roles in the incident. Officials allowed Cimino to retire rather than face a costly legal battle.
Two days before Fields’ group obtained a copy of the dash-cam video, he sent the school board president a letter raising alarm that Lawson-Muhammad may have abused her position during the traffic stop and “engaged in abusive behavior toward an officer.”
New Jersey 101.5 could not find a working phone number to reach Lawson-Muhammad for comment Wednesday afternoon.
On Wednesday, South Orange Police Chief Kyle Kroll said he had not read the letter from the black parents group. Kroll declined to comment other than to say that the officer “handled himself professionally.”
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated to reflect that the school board member called the South Orange police chief, not the officer, a skinhead.
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.