VIDEO: School Official Who Cried Racism On Stop Faces 6-Month Suspension

South Orange-Maplewood School Board Member Stephanie Lawson-Muhammad referred to the police chief as a "skinhead."

South Orange, NJ – The South Orange-Maplewood School Board member who tried to use her “civic privilege” to manipulate a police officer during a traffic stop in 2018 is facing a six-month suspension from her position.

During her vulgar tirade, board member Stephanie Lawson-Muhammad 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.

On Tuesday, the New Jersey Department of Education School Ethics Commission announced its recommendation that Lawson-Muhammad be suspended from the South Orange-Maplewood School Board for a period of six months for violating the state’s ethics code, the Associated Press reported.

The commission also ruled that the officer who pulled Lawson-Muhammad over for the speeding violation tried to accommodate her by allowing her daughter to get out of the vehicle so she could walk to school.

But Lawson-Muhammad continued to berate the officer throughout the encounter, and later said he was the one to blame for her irrational reaction.

“All I needed to do was be reassured that I was not going to be hurt. That he was not a cop that hurts black people," she told the commission, adding that officer’s skull tattoo gave her anxiety.

The commission ruled that Lawson-Muhammad’s words and actions during the stop “were not warranted based on the facts and circumstances” of the encounter, and that “the use of such language by a sitting Board member, who is charged with advocating for all students, could give the impression that she, and potentially the Board, is biased and/or not impartial,” the Village Green reported.

The commission noted that Lawson-Muhammad’s behavior “implied, or made it appear, that her position and status as a board member would entitle her to a ‘free pass’ in the course of the traffic stop,” The Star-Ledger reported.

“[Her] mistreatment and beratement of the police officer throughout the traffic stop undermines her testimony that she feared for her safety,” the commission added.

She never apologized to the officer, although she did appear “apologetic for how others would view the Chief of Police based on her [skinhead] comment,” the commission noted, according to the Village Green.

“She did not appear to recognize that her words could also negatively impact the public’s perception of the Board and its members,” the commission added.

Lawson-Muhammad denounced the panel’s decision, and alleged that the board simply does not understand the fear that African-Americans experience when they are pulled over by the police.

“We are deeply disappointed with the decision issued by the Ethics Commission,” she said in a statement to the Village Green on Wednesday. “Their action delegitimizes, disregards and belittles the very real and justified fear, anxiety, disorientation and even trauma that is nearly always experienced during even a routine traffic stop, particularly if that motorist is African American.”

“The commission members were completely ill-suited to judge my fear and the real intentions of my words,” Lawson-Muhammad continued. “They lacked corroborating evidence, expertise and, most especially, personal experience."

"I am in the process of considering my options," she added.

The incident occurred at approximately 8 a.m. on April 27, when 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 her, 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--king 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.

Just over two weeks after the traffic stop, 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 encounter.

“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 alleged 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.”

Fields reiterated his stance on the matter after the commission’s ruling, the Maplewood Patch reported.

"At the time this incident became public I called for the resignation of Ms. Lawson-Muhammad from the South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education," he told the paper. "Today, I call upon the Board of Education to follow its own policy and remove Ms. Lawson-Muhammad from her position.”

The commission gave Lawson-Muhammad 30 days to appeal the findings, the Village Green reported.

You can watch the daschcam footage of the traffic stop in the video below:

Comments (44)
No. 1-32
tom1961
tom1961

This is real racism. And Black privilege. A white person would have lost their job and we would have marches and looting over it.

LEO0301
LEO0301

Really, is there any other race that makes more excuses and who live in a complete state of paranoia than blacks do? Poor, poor, pitiful me...no wonder they can't seem to get over the hump despite all the freebees our government provides them. Stop already, nothing you just said is remotely true.

THEDUKE
THEDUKE

"Lawson-Muhammad denounced the panel’s decision, and alleged that the board simply does not understand the fear that African-Americans experience when they are pulled over by the police".

What the public understands all too clearly is that this particular minority loves to hide behind racial excuses instead of being responsible for their own illegal actions. This woman should be losing her job and not just given a suspension. Are you all tired of the double standards yet? If so stand and bring up circumstances such as this at town meetings or school board meetings and voice your concerns .

Jeff1245
Jeff1245

At least she is getting some punishment for her remarks and tickets....Some one else had sixteen felonies and walked free for his racist attempt to make it sound like someone beat him up,in spite a lot of evidence that he did lie about it all .

jfpriv
jfpriv

"Scared of cops"? SERIOUSLY? If you ain't dirty, respond properly and do what the hell you are asked to do, then one should not have top be scared.

JBo
JBo

Yeah...ethics are a bitch especially when you discover that you're also subject to them.

Frank97230
Frank97230

Lawson-Muhammad should resign at once. Shame on her for that kind of behavior . Officer Horst conducted himself politely and very profesional . Well done officer, we need more police like him !

Hannibal
Hannibal

Lawson-Muhammad...

DarrellWhitledge
DarrellWhitledge

You racist Bastard lol

Cromaxgal
Cromaxgal

She’s downright a poor example of her race. I would be embarrassed if a white person acted like that on my school board and demand they be fired.

TarnishedCopper
TarnishedCopper

He was extremely polite to her and did the job he was employed to do. She on the other hand was condescending and abusive towards him. I would grade her theatrical performance as a D-. She tried to bait him after realizing that her "stature in the community" didn't mean squat to him. This is a very good textbook example of how to be professional as a law enforcement officer!

TrueAmerican
TrueAmerican

This Officer was so professional and for her to act like that is exactly what is wrong with people pulling the race card. If her daughter had not of exited when she did she would of heard and seen how an "adult" treats law enforcement, sad

OldVet
OldVet

I don't like being held accountable for my actions...….answer, pull the race card.

Stanracer
Stanracer

Six month "suspension"? Wow!!! This entitled, racist bitch should have been fired.

Lightrae
Lightrae

Three summers ago I was walking out of a kitchen store at a mall in Lexington KY and a well dressed black woman passed in front of me. I got the impression she was a teacher or professor. A tall young black man was walking with her. I got the impression that he was her student. He reminded me of my youngest son, Christopher. She said to him "Look for confrontations and make them escalate." I was meant to see and overhear that. But I did nothing with it. I told my husband but he only made up possible reasons for the exchange. But I know what I know what I know. And it's not good. She was teaching him to AKOST. And AKOSTing is what our young are being taught to do now. We didn't train our kids up in the way they should go. We let others train them up right under our noses. I pray John 13:34 over us all.

magnumforc
magnumforc

Ya gotta love this bitch. I grew up in that area and the SOPD was one of the best around. But then again, we had a dignified community and when you have people like this on the school board, you can imagine where that town is going. It ain't up!

Old Hawg
Old Hawg

Why do cops sometimes hurt black people? Because they sometimes act like this woman.

Budman
Budman

No one is above the law!!

HAWAIIBLUE
HAWAIIBLUE

Dang, sounds like the race card is losing its worth. And it’s all due to people like this. For one, she thought she could use her position as some sort of leverage, then she tries to say she’s “scared of cops because they hurt black people?” The she lies? She says her husband is on a plane, then magically he’s on the phone and will text a picture of the insurance? Damn she’s a piece of work. I seriously hope she gets suspended. As we as law enforcement do, she should be held accountable for her actions and demeanor being a person of her position..... whatever that is. She just set you folks back about 100 years of what you guys have fought for and succeeded up to today. It’s the ones like this and that NAACP president guy who lied about his traffic stop also that ruin it for the better rest of you.

IseeWhereThisIsGoing
IseeWhereThisIsGoing

"When viewing the video, it is clear that Board Member Lawson-Muhammad attempted to exercise her civic privilege during a routine traffic stop" Mr. Fields was referring to Board Member Lawson-Muhammad's black privilege right? You know, that's the privilege that they are entitled to which states that they shouldn't be responsible for any laws that they break, even when the cops catch them doing it.

Although, I'm happy to see that the SOMA Black Parents association condemned her actions and said she owed the officer an apology.

And I'm disappointed with the ethics boards decision. She should have been expelled due to attempt of abuse of power and discriminatory actions. If she was white, there would have been protests in the street calling for her arrest.

xenonman
xenonman

6 months? Why isn't it permanent??

61mouse
61mouse

She sounds like Maxine Watters....whiney little bitch

61mouse
61mouse

61mouse
61mouse

This happen a yr ago I wonder if it was with pay

Signal10
Signal10

Whines and when it doesn't go her way every one is racist and hates "African Americans"

Got news here sister, if you were born in America within the last 150 years, you are NOT an African American, you are either a black person or a person of color.

Secondly, even the school board disagreed with you and the one person asking for your resignation is omg; black!

So yes, he understands your fears, your pain, your suffering, your bullshit.

You're just an over privileged snob lady that doesn't like the fact you got a ticket and are playing the race card because of it.

Shame on you, what's this teaching those kids of yours?

Suz
Suz

She is a disgrace and needs to lose her job!

spd522
spd522

Sadly, this is all too common of an occurrence when certain people obtain positions they believe to be more important than they are. The "it's because I am black " excuses has run out of steam and is about as valid as the reasons people give when driving drunk. This woman should have been tossed out of her position. The school board lacked the fortitude to do the right thing. Only Mr Fields showed the courage and honesty to call it what it was.

LPD133
LPD133

Happens all the time....people think they are special. The officer was very professional and handled it perfectly.

chiefd
chiefd

Playing the race card to justify her racist triad. She needs to not ever be in public office again.

NFPD103
NFPD103

This is now almost typical behavior for minority violators on traffic stops, the race card gets played and then the fear card gets added for good measure. Often its combined with a pinch of offensive verbal abuse of the officer just for flavor. Otherwise a fairly common minority offender traffic stop.

xenonman
xenonman

It usually is in the public sector!