A Texas police chief has been accused of racism, corruption and abuse of power after arresting 2016's Miss Black Texas in May. The victim's attorney alleges the officer of the law referred to the victim as a "black b****" and forced her to spend a night in jail.
According to KXAS, the victim was Carmen Ponder, the winner of Miss Black Texas 2016. Ponder alleges she was harassed, berated, detained and arrested by Commerce Police Chief Kerry Crews. She seeks charges against Crews and has issued calls for greater police accountability.
According to Ponder's attorney, Lee Merritt, the incident in question began after Ponder encountered a dangerous driver as she made her way to a local Walmart. In a statement to The Root, Merritt says Ponder "politely signaled and went around the sporadic driver" and continued to her destination. But after she parked, the car she had passed returned, driven by Crews.
Crews began to berate Ponder. When Ponder ignored Crews, who admitted to illegally giving his 14-year-old daughter the driving lessons that caused Ponder to pass, Crews resorted to further profanity and specifically singled out Ponder's skin. Ponder continued to ignore Crews and finished her shopping.
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Merritt explained what happened when Ponder attempted to leave the Walmart: "Crews had called for backup. A plain clothes unidentified officer wielding a badge informed [Ponder] that the man she had pissed off was the chief of police and she had better apologize." When Ponder declined, she was grabbed and detained, according to Merritt's account.
Ultimately, Ponder was handcuffed and taken into custody for evading arrest; she spent the night in jail. Ponder reportedly had bruises from the officers who detained her.
According to the City of Commerce, Crews has been placed on leave during the investigation into the matter. In a statement released May 25, the City of Commerce revealed that the city had hired an outside organization to conduct the investigation:
On May 20, 2017, the Commerce Police Department responded to a call about a dispute between two motorists … Since the incident there have been a number of statements made about the details of the incident, and many of these details do not align with the statements provided by Chief Crews and the responding officer. As such, the City is engaging an outside entity to conduct an investigation into the incident to objectively review and determine the facts.
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Crews declined to comment, telling KXAS that his attorneys advised him not to speak.
Ponder has reportedly refused to take a plea deal and is "more than willing" to go to trial.