A Black police officer in Pasadena, California, has claimed racial discrimination and retaliation following an encounter with fellow officers where she attempted to de-escalate a situation involving a suspect and another officer, CBS News reports.
Officer Taisyn Crutchfield, who has been with the Pasadena police force since 2021, has filed a lawsuit after being placed on paid administrative leave for six months without explanation following the encounter.
In the lawsuit, Crutchfield claims that she was punished after stepping into a situation on February 20, when additional officers were called to an argument involving the two sons of Charles Towns, a Black man who was shot and killed by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies in January, according to CBS News.
Crutchfield’s attorney said that police were called to the scene when one of Towns’ sons, a juvenile, was “understandably upset by the death of their father.” While the responding officers were interacting with the teenagers, Crutchfield said that one was thrown face-first into a cactus, causing the situation to escalate and prompting her to step in and attempt to push the other officer away.
The Pasadena Police Department published a series of recordings on Feb. 20 showing the incident from inside a patrol car, where a group of police can be seen around the two teens while a third person watches on. Crutchfield is seen walking over to another cop and attempting to lightly push him away in what she has described as an attempt to de-escalate the incident.
“Officer Taisyn Crutchfield fortunately followed state-wide police training and intervened to de-escalate the situation. Officer Crutchfield deserved a commendation for her swift and heroic action, avoiding needless violence,” a press release from Crutchfield’s attorney said.
According to Crutchfield’s attorney, she is “the latest victim” in a history of “racial discrimination, racial profiling, disparities of punishment of African American employees and retaliation against [officers] who are whistleblowers or complain about discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.”
Instead of being commended for her “heroic action, avoiding needless violence,” Crutchfield was “relieved of duty and punished,” the press release reads. The attorney said the lawsuit was filed to right the wrong suffered by the Black woman officer.
The City of Pasadena has responded, stating that it will vigorously defend itself, emphasizing that the facts will prevail. In a press conference outside the Pasadena Police Department, Crutchfield’s attorney said, “She’s doing the right thing; she doesn’t believe in a code of silence. She doesn’t believe in circling the wagons. She believes in integrity, honesty, and safety.”
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