A Texas school board member allegedly called Carmen Ponder a “black bitch” then told the police chief she ran him off the road, leading to her arrest.
Commerce, Texas, Police Chief Kerry Crews and school board member Michael Beane resigned this week, a month after the racially charged arrest of Ponder, a former Miss Black Texas. Beane told Crews that Ponder was recklessly driving. Crews then spoke to officers who arrested her for evading arrest.
“As a result of being off-duty I was unprepared for the response I received from Ms. Ponder, and I became emotional,” Crews wrote in a statement announcing his resignation on Monday. The statement was read by the mayor during a city council meeting about the incident. Crews did not attend the meeting. The statement did not address the alleged racial remark by Beane.
Beane also resigned from the Commerce school board Tuesday morning. A spokesperson told The Daily Beast, “He said that it was an unfortunate situation. He has apologized for some curse words, but he has nothing else to apologize for.”
On May 20, Beane called the police and said that Ponder drove his 15-year-old daughter off the road during a driving lesson. Beane took over the wheel and followed Ponder into a Walmart parking lot, according to police.
He began yelling at Ponder and told her, “fuck you.” Both Beane and Ponder’s accounts agree that he lost his temper.
Ponder told Beane that his daughter shouldn’t be driving, according to police.
“Oh whatever, you black bitch,” Beane said according to Ponder’s lawyer, S. Lee Merritt.
The police report does not mention his reference to her race.
Ponder then went inside Walmart. Meanwhile, Beane saw Crews in the parking lot. The police chief was off-duty and out of uniform when Beane told him about the incident. Crews then confronted Ponder and showed her his badge.
Crews told Ponder that she could either apologize or go to jail, said Merritt. When she refused and told him about the racist slur, Crews ignored her, according to Merritt.
That’s when two uniformed police officers arrived. A cellphone video shows Crews ordering the officers to handcuff Ponder when she tried to leave.
“You do not tell him to handcuff me,” Ponder told Crews.
“I’m his boss, I’m telling him what to do,” he replied.
Ponder spent 24 hours in jail, and the charges were later dropped because of insufficient evidence.
“For these grown men to pick out a child, a 110 pound girl and intimidate her the way they did and put her in jail, it’s disappointing,” Merritt said.
An outside investigation of Crews’ behavior did not find any racial motivation behind the arrest.
Ponder is considering a lawsuit against both Crews and Beane, Merritt said.