The winner of Miss Black Texas 2016 is calling for the firing of a local police chief who she claims harassed and berated her before wrongfully taking her into custody.
In a Twitter post Tuesday, May 23, Texas A&M University student Carmen Ponder recalled her alleged encounter with Commerce Police Chief Kerry Crews last week. Ponder wrote that she was driving to a nearby Walmart Saturday when a black pick-up truck cut in front of her and began driving erratically. Suspecting the driver was drunk, as the truck continued braking and then accelerating, Ponder said she flipped on her blinker, maneuvered her vehicle to pass the truck and then turned into the Walmart entrance.
Things quickly escalated, however, as Ponder said the black truck followed her into the parking lot and pulled up beside her.
“When I parked, the same black truck sped up on my car and [the passenger] began yelling at me and cussing me out,” she wrote. “He screamed that he was teaching his 14-year-old daughter how to drive and that I shouldn’t have drove around her.”
That passenger was later identified as Crews, according to NBC 5 News.
Ponder said she tried to ignore Crews as she grabbed her belongings and headed into the store, but he kept screaming and cursing at her. That is when the college student turned around and yelled “it’s illegal” for him to be teaching his 14-year-old daughter to drive, to which the officer shouted back, “Oh, whatever you Black b-tch!”
After buying what she needed from the store, Ponder said she was stormed by a group of plain-clothes officers as she walked to the parking lot.
“One of them shoved his badge in her face, told her that she ‘better apologize to the police chief,’ but my client declined to do so,” Ponder’s lawyer, Lee Merritt, told the news station. “One of the officers grabbed her, pulled her back into Walmart and told her she was being detained.”
“When other officers arrived, she walked back to her car to explain what happened,” Merritt added. “An officer grabbed her and demanded she be arrested for resisting arrest. … She has bruises on her arms from where she was grabbed.”
Ponder was booked into jail and charged with evading arrest. She wasn’t released until the next day.
Now, the former Miss Black Texas U.S. Ambassador is demanding police accountability and asking that charges be filed against Crews. She also has launched a crowd sourcing page on YouCaring.com to help raise funds for her attorney’s fees.
“My only crime … the color of my skin,” Ponder wrote on the page, adding that she’s refusing to take a plea deal.
“[I’m] more than willing to go to trial, but that takes time and money.”
The Commerce Police Department didn’t respond to requests for comment, but authorities say Crews has been placed on administrative leave pending an independent investigation.