South Orange, NJ – A South Orange-Maplewood School Board member has been called upon to resign her position, after she attempted to manipulate a police officer by exercising her “civic privilege” when she was pulled over for speeding (video below).
She also referred to the South Orange police chief as a “skinhead cop,” and said she was “scared of cops because you guys hurt black people,” dashcam footage showed.
The incident occurred at approximately 8 a.m. on April 27, when Stephanie Lawson-Muhammad was stopped for traveling 37 miles per hour in a 25 miles per hour zone, TAPinto reported.
“Hi, ma’am,” South Orange Officer Shaun Horst greeted Lawson-Muhammad, as he stood next to her driver’s side door.
“Can I just let her out to walk to school?” she replied, referring to her daughter, who was in the car.
She abruptly ended her request, and launched into her personal profile.
“My name is Stephanie Lawson-Muhammad, I’m on the school board, I’m a community member of this town. I’m sorry if I was speeding,” she asserted.
“Yes, you were speeding,” Officer Horst replied. “That’s why I’m stopping you.”
“I didn’t realize that I was speeding,” she interjected. “I’m very sorry.”
After the officer asked her for her license and vehicle information, Lawson-Muhammad began to make crying sounds, and asked if her daughter could walk to school.
“Sure!” Officer Horst responded. “That’s no problem.”
“And then my other daughter has to get to school, and she’s gonna be late,” she cried.
The officer assured her he would get her moving along as quickly as possible, but Lawson-Muhammad’s whimpering continued.
“And I’m scared of cops because you guys hurt black people,” she squeaked.
“Ma’am, do you want me to call you an ambulance?” Officer Horst asked.
“No I don’t want you to call me an ambulance!” she retorted angrily. “That’s an insult!”
Officer Horst quickly assured her that he was only worried that she might have been having a panic attack.
“I don’t want you to call me an ambulance,” she said.
“Okay – no problem,” Officer Horst calmly replied, before he again requested her driving and vehicle paperwork.
“That was a f*****g insult,” Lawson-Muhammad railed.
She then told her daughter to walk to school, and asked the officer to notify school personnel that her child would be late.
“No, I cannot,” Officer Horst said.
Lawson-Muhammad was unable to find the documents the officer requested, and instead attempted to make the officer aware of her personal connection to South Orange Village President Sheena Collum.
Officer Horst eventually issued Lawson-Muhammad citations for not having a valid insurance card, and for speeding.
“For me to go to court?” she asked him. “Now you want me to go to court? I don’t want to go to court.”
The officer explained that he was unable to void a ticket once it was written.
“Then I’ll call Sheena,” she said. “And your skinhead cop chief, too.”
“Okay,” Officer Horst replied, before he provided Lawson-Muhammad with contact information for the court.
On Wednesday, South Orange-Maplewood School District (SOMA) Black Parents Workshop Chairman Walter Fields issued a letter to Board of Education President Elizabeth Baker, and admonished Lawson-Muhammad’s “appalling” behavior during the traffic stop.
“When viewing the video, it is clear that Board Member Lawson-Muhammad attempted to exercise her civic privilege during a routine traffic stop,” Fields wrote in the letter. “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.”
He noted that Lawson-Muhammad attempted to “manipulate” Officer Horst by referencing her fear of police.
“Ms. Lawson-Muhammad must issue a public apology to this officer,” he wrote.
Fields demanded that Lawson-Muhammad resign from her position, and urged the board to issue a “formal statement condemning [her] behavior.”
“There are real incidents of police misconduct,” Fields noted. “This was not one of them.”
Lawson-Muhammad, Baker and South Orange Police Chief Kyle Kroll declined to comment regarding the incident, TAPinto reported.
You can watch the daschcam footage of the traffic stop in the video below: