After Princeton University professor Imani Perry was arrested for an overdue parking ticket on Feb. 6, she accused the officers involved of mistreatment. The Princeton, New Jersey, police department has released dashcam video of the incident, which calls into question whether Perry’s claims are justifiable (video below).
In a lengthy Facebook post on Feb. 8, Perry wrote of her arrest: “The police treated me inappropriately and disproportionately. The fact of my blackness is not incidental to this matter.”
She wrote that being denied a phone call before her arrest, a pat down by a male officer when a female officer was present, and being handcuffed to a table were all part of her mistreatment.
“If it is not the case that this is the general practice, then I hope everyone reading will consider the possibility that the way I was treated had something to do with my race, and that we have a serious problem with policing in this society particularly with respect to Black people,” Perry wrote on Facebook.
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Perry was pulled over for driving 67 mph in a 45 mph zone.
The nearly 30-minute dashcam video captures what happened between Perry and the arresting officers, a white male and female, and calls into question Perry’s claims of mistreatment because of her race, as it appears the officers treated her respectfully and fairly, while following common procedures.
"Have you ever received a ticket or anything else like that in New Jersey or Pennsylvania or anything like that?" the male officer asks Perry in the video after inquiring as to why her drivers license is suspended. Perry says no.
The officer asks Perry questions about where she has lived and what type of car she has owned in the past in a calm manner, explaining to her that they are trying to figure out the situation and get her on her way.
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The male and female officer then tell Perry about a warrant for her arrest for a parking offense and explain that she will have to come with them, pay the fine, and then she will be released.
They offer to drop her off at the university after the matter is taken care of, because she should not be driving on a suspended license.
Perry exits the vehicle and the male officer explains to her that whenever they transport an individual who has a warrant they must be handcuffed. Perry appears to voice her concern over the negative image this may project on her, and the officer assures her that no one needs to know she was arrested.
When Perry asks if she may contact someone, the male officer tells her she can make any calls she needs to after they take her to the station.
If Perry was patted down by the male officer, it occurs off camera. The audio of the officers asking Perry to empty her pockets is also heard off camera. At one point, the officers ask after her well-being, displaying concern over whether she may be hyperventilating.
Police Chief Nicholas Sutter refutes Perry’s claims that she was mistreated.
"I don't think the facts are in dispute,'' Sutter told NJ.com. "I think its more whether our policy is right or wrong, that there's a question on whether the greater policy on warrants is justified.''
Perry was handcuffed to a steel bar, just “as every arrestee is,” and released after paying her fine.
"I realize the policies or procedures can upset people," Sutter said. "I get that and I'm completely sympathetic to it. But from my perspective, this is how everyone is treated -- every single person who has this exact situation."
An investigation has been opened by the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office.
“If we did something incorrect, it’ll come out in that investigation,” Sutter said.
Sutter says he does not expect any wrongdoing to be found, reports NJ.com.