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How this Drag Race winner helped get a shoddy police department shut down

Tyra Sanchez from the Season 2 promo
Tyra Sanchez from the Season 2 promo Photo: Screenshot

In 2023, James Ross, also known as Tyra Sanchez, the drag queen who won season 2 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, was arrested under false circumstances in Starke, Florida. Now, the department of the arresting officer has been disbanded.

Ross was arrested after being involved in a car accident where the other driver was at fault. Still, the police approached Ross, who was shaken by the accident, to fill out an accident report.

Ross was approached by an officer who asked him to get out of the car, to which he responded, “I’m a little angry right now, I don’t think I’m in the position to talk to you right now.” The officer said he didn’t have all day and asked Ross to get out of the car.

The situation quickly escalated to a profanity-filled exchange, and the officer told Ross to put his hands behind his back to arrest him and said, “You’re going to jail,” taking out his taser. Ross replied, “For what? I haven’t done anything wrong! And if you tase me with that taser I am going to sue the f**k out of you!”

The officer alleges he thought Ross said, “I’m going to shoot you.” According to Ross, the officer threw him on the ground and tasered him. Ross then ran away out of fear for his life. Ross later reached an $8,360 settlement with the city.

Ross filed a citizen’s complaint saying he was targeted for being a Black, gay man. After the accident, Ross was charged with resisting an officer without violence and simple assault on an officer and was later taken to the Bradford County Jail. All charges were dropped.

This is just one of many incidents listed in a 104-page report from the Starke city manager to commissioners that revealed the department was in shambles. The department is under investigation due to  2,500 pieces of evidence being lost from the Starke Police Department, including guns, drugs, and money over the last ten years.

In an interview with Fox 30’s Jax Ben Becker, Ross said that he was happy the department had been disbanded.

“I thought that, ‘Finally, I got them,'” Ross said.

When asked what his message to people was, Ross responded that it was to “stand up for yourself, know your rights know what they can and can not do, and don’t allow anyone to silence you.”

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