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N.J. Local School Board Member Apologizes For Going Off On Officer, Calling Chief 'Skinhead Cop'

May 17, 2018 - 2:22 pm

SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. (WCBS 880/AP) -- A South Orange-Maplewood, New Jersey school board member apologized Tuesday after she was caught on camera cursing at a police officer and calling the chief a “skinhead cop.”

Stephanie Lawson-Muhammad said her choice of words were an “irrational response.”

In dashcam video taken April 27, the South Orange police officer pulls Lawson-Muhammad over for driving 37 mph on a street where the speed limit is 25. Lawson-Muhammad, who is heard but not seen, says she did not know she was speeding and asks her daughter can get out and walk to school.

But soon afterward, Lawson-Muhammad, who is black, sounds as if she is crying as she can be heard telling the white police officer that she's “scared of cops because you guys hurt black people.”

The officer offers to call Lawson-Muhammad an ambulance, saying she looks like she might be having a panic attack.

“No, I don’t want you to call me an ambulance!” Lawson-Muhammad says. “That’s an insult!”

Lawson-Muhammad asks the officer to call the middle school and tell them that her daughter will be late. The officer refuses, and the daughter gets out of the car and walks off.

The officer says he has written Lawson-Muhammad a speeding ticket, as well as one for failure to have a valid insurance card because the card she was carrying was expired. The officer says the ticket regarding the insurance card involves a mandatory court appearance.

“That doesn’t make any sense. My husband is telling you right now, because for me to have to go to court? For me to have to go to court? Now you want me to go to court? I don’t want to go to court. I have insurance. He can text you a picture of it right now,” Lawson-Muhammad says.

The officer says the ticket is already written and it is too late.

“Then I’ll call Sheena, and your skinhead cop chief too,” Lawson-Muhammad says.

NJ.com reports Lawson-Muhammad issued a statement Thursday saying she is sorry she allowed her emotions to overwhelm her as she was trying to get her kids to school. She commended the officer on his patience.

(© 2018 WCBS 880. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)