News (USA)

A Black trans official was arrested during a traffic stop. The police officer just got fired.

Celena Morrison-McLean speaks at a press conference after being arrested by a state trooper
Celena Morrison-McLean speaks at a press conference following the incident Photo: Screenshot

A Pennsylvania state trooper who was caught on video forcefully arresting a Black trans Philadelphia city official and her husband has been fired.

State police have not released the trooper’s name or any other information about the firing, but a spokesperson has confirmed he no longer works for the agency.

In March, the unnamed trooper pulled over Celena Morrison-McLean – the director of Philadelphia’s Office of LGBT Affairs – for allegedly tailgating and driving without headlights on in the rain. Her husband, Darius McLean, was driving in a separate vehicle and pulled over behind the officer to make sure his wife was okay.

A viral video taken by Morrison-McLean shows her husband handcuffed and curled up on the ground on the side of the highway, clearly terrified as the officer yells at him. He later explained that when he pulled over, the trooper immediately redirected his attention from Morrison-McLean to him and approached with his gun drawn.

As Morrison-McLean films, she can be heard repeatedly shouting, “I work for the mayor,” which she later explained at a press conference was an attempt to “make him realize he was dealing with people he did not need to be afraid of.”

After Darius McLean pulled over, the officer alleges he resisted arrest – though it’s not clear what he was being arrested for in the first place. “It’s cause I’m Black,” he can be heard saying in the video while lying on the ground.

“It’s not cause you’re Black,” the trooper responds.

“Yes, it is!” Morrison-McLean screams.

At that point, the officer appears to charge at her, and the phone drops. But their voices can still be heard, and they are arguing.

The officer yelled to Darius McLean, “I don’t know who you are, so I don’t need someone rolling up on me.” He explains that he is her husband and then tells the couple they are both under arrest for resisting.

The couple was reportedly held for 12 hours before being released. No official charges have been filed against either the officer or the couple as the District Attorney’s Office continues to investigate the incident.

Stephen Polishan, president of the Pennsylvania State Troopers Association (PSTA), issued a statement declaring the trooper’s termination “reprehensible.”

“This young trooper, on the job for only six months, deserved better from our department… We can only conclude this decision is a response to a politically charged atmosphere in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania, which is making it increasingly difficult for law enforcement to carry out even their most basic duties.”

The statement went on to defend the trooper’s actions by saying that Darius McLean pulled over on the highway illegally and also had blacked-out vehicle windows, which are illegal in Pennsylvania “because they’re considered potentially dangerous to law enforcement officers, who cannot see if a threat exists in an automobile.”

“The trooper, in the field on his own, now has his attention divided. He approached the second car with blacked-out windows, and the driver ignored orders to leave the scene. Following his training, the trooper arrested both individuals when they refused to cooperate and follow his orders.”

Polishan then decried “the growing lack of respect for law enforcement and the rule of law and the failure to understand when one’s actions may lead to a member of law enforcement feeling threatened.”

They claimed this anti-law enforcement vendetta has become “an epidemic that must end.”

In the aftermath of the incident, Morrison-McLean said she’s “never felt more helpless than in those moments when that state trooper held my husband’s life in his hands.”

She also lamented, “It’s disheartening that as Black individuals, we are all too familiar with the use of the phrase, ‘Stop resisting!’ as a green light for excessive force by law enforcement.”

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