South Orange BOE member calls police chief ‘skinhead’ during traffic stop

Posted: Updated:

A member of the South Orange-Maplewood School Board is being pressured to resign after she was heard calling a the chief of police a “skinhead cop” during a traffic stop.

School board member Stephanie Lawson Muhammad was issued a ticket on April 27 in South Orange for driving 37 mph in a 25 mph zone.

Lawson Muhammad, who is black, is facing criticism for her dealings with South Orange Police Officer Shaun Horst, who is white. Their encounter was recorded on the officer’s dashboard camera.

In the video Lawson Muhammad can be heard asking the officer if she can let her daughter out of the car to walk to school. She also identifies herself as a school board member. She then begins crying.

“I'm scared of cops because you guys hurt black people,” she is heard saying on the tape.

Officer Horst is then heard asking if Lawson Muhammad required an ambulance because she was so upset.

“No I don’t want you to call me am ambulance,” she is heard saying. “That’s an insult.”

Officer Horst next asks to see her license and registration. Lawson Muhammad was not able to find her insurance card, so Horse writes her a summons. This is when she appears to get even angrier.

“Ma'am I wrote you a summons for the speed and failure to have valid insurance in your possession. 

That's a mandatory court appearance,” Horst says. 

"Now you want me to go to court? I have insurance. He can text you a picture of it right now,” Lawson Muhammad says. 

“Ma'am it's already written. I can't void it when written,” says Horst.

This is when Lawson Muhammad is heard calling the Horst's boss, the chief of police, a “skinhead cop”

Local organization Black Parents Workshop has condemned Lawson Muhammad’s behavior.

A spokesman for the group says in a statement, "Under no circumstances is this type of behavior, from a public servant no less, acceptable. Ms. Lawson Muhammad must resign her position.”

The statement went on to say, "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."

The Board of Education has not said if Lawson Muhammad would face any disciplinary action.

Attempt to reach Lawson Muhammad for comment were not returned.

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