A beauty pageant winner has sued a Texas city over a charge of evading arrest that was later dropped, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported. She was taken into custody following an exchange in which the suit says a police official demanded that she apologize to a local school trustee who she says had used racial slurs toward her.
Both the school board member and police chief resigned their posts afterward.
Carmen Ponder, who won the Miss Black Texas competition in 2016, sued the city of Commerce, about 60 miles northeast of Dallas, and its former police chief Kerry Crews on Monday. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Dallas, alleges that Crews, while off duty, arrested her in May 2017 without cause after a confrontation following a traffic incident.
Ponder said a truck cut in front of her and drove erratically. She passed the truck and the driver followed her to the Walmart parking lot, yelling that he was teaching his daughter how to drive and that Ponder shouldn’t have passed them. She ignored him and entered the store, but not before he used a racial slur, the suit states.
Crews was shopping in Walmart that day, and he and the driver, later identified as then- Commerce school board member Michael Beane, got into a heated argument with Ponder – caught on video after she left the store and returned to the parking lot.
The suit alleges that Crews, after flashing his police badge, “aggressively demanded that she apologize to the man who accosted her earlier using racial slurs,” the Commerce Journal reported. Ponder also alleges in the suit that Crews grabbed her arm, causing bruising.
Ponder says the arrest violated both the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the federal Civil Rights Act. She is seeking at least $150,000 in compensation from Crews and at least $300,000 from the city.
Crews, who resigned a month after the incident, now serves as justice of the peace in Hunt County.