A former Miss Black Texas competition winner is suing the city of Dallas over a road rage incident two years ago that landed her in jail.
Carmen Ponder says her civil rights were violated when she was arrested during a traffic stop and on Monday filed a federal lawsuit in court stemming from a May 2017 arrest in Commerce, The Dallas Morning News reports.
Ponder is suing the city and a former police chief Kerry Crews over the evading arrest charge. According to the lawsuit, Crews was off-duty and arrested Ponder without reason during an incident with another driver.
Ponder says she encountered an “erratic” motorist in a black truck on her way to a Walmart on May 20, 2017 who she assumed was a drunk driver.
The then-Texas A&M University-Commerce pre-law student passed the driver and proceeded to the store when she saw the black truck pull up. Michael Beane, a Commerce school district trustee, reportedly got out of truck and proceeded to use vulgar language and said he was trying to teach his teenage daughter to drive, according to the lawsuit.
Ponder then told him that the 14-year-old was too young to drive legally and in response, Beane allegedly called her a “black [expletive],” the lawsuit says.
Ponder continued to the store and after shopping she was approached by Crews outside of the store. By this time he had already heard Beane’s side of the story.
According to the suit, Crews, who was in plain clothes, “aggressively demanded that she apologize to the man who accosted her earlier using racial slurs,” the lawsuit says.
Crews then grabbed her “by the arm with enough force to cause bruising and told her she was being detained,” according to the lawsuit.
Ponder was arrested by another responding officer and charged with evading arrest and she was handcuffed. The charges were later dropped by the Hunt County district attorney later because of lack of evidence.
Crews resigned from his post the next month and now works as a justice of the peace.
Crews issued an emotional resignation letter.
“It had nothing to do with her race or gender, or anything other than what I felt was her disrespect of my position as an officer and as the police chief,” wrote Crews.
Ponder is seeking $450,000 in damages.