Other NJ News

Lawson-Muhammad Apologizes For 'Irrational Response' To Police Altercation; School Board President Supports Her

cd8a4f4efdc689c50dde_muhammad_lawson.jpg
Stephanie Lawson-Muhammad was stopped by an officer on the morning of April 27, as she drove her child to school near the Maplewood/South Orange line along Walton Road at Maplewood Avenue. Credits: Joe Strupp - file photo from 2016
07bf74e2dc41311d23a2_IMG_3694.JPG
Stephanie Lawson-Muhammad was stopped by an officer on the morning of April 27, as she drove her child to school near the Maplewood/South Orange line along Walton Road at Maplewood Avenue. Credits: TAPinto SOMA
cd8a4f4efdc689c50dde_muhammad_lawson.jpg

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ -  A day after video surfaced of her altercation with a South Orange police officer -- in which she used profanity, threatened to go to the village president and called the police chief “a skinhead cop” -- South Orange Maplewood School Board member Stephanie Lawson-Muhammad issued an apology in which she called her behavior “uncharacteristic” and “an irrational response” to being stopped.

“First and foremost, I want to sincerely apologize for my uncharacteristic behavior displayed in the police video on April 27th,” she said in the statement. “I had an irrational response to being stopped for a traffic violation. I allowed my emotions to overwhelm me that morning, and I fell short of the standards to which I hold myself."

She later added, “I have personally apologized to Chief Kyle Kroll who, like me, is passionate about our community. He is not the person I made him out to be,” the apology stated, in part. “He sincerely accepted my apology and agrees that we will work together to help heal our community. We have begun plans to work with community stakeholders to build stronger bonds and greater trust for the entire community.”

Sign Up for E-News

The apology follows Wednesday’s disclosure, first reported by TAPinto SOMA, of Lawson-Muhammad’s reaction to having been stopped by an officer on the morning of April 27, as she drove her child to school near the Maplewood/South Orange line along Walton Road at Maplewood Avenue.

As the dashcam video of the incident showed, South Orange police stopped her for speeding and when she was approached, she became upset and sought to argue that she needed to get her child to school. She stated, “my name is Stephanie Lawson-Muhammad, I’m on the school board, I’m a community member of this town and I am sorry if I was speeding, I didn’t realize I was speeding.”

She later used profanity when the officer asked if she needed an ambulance and then complained when she was cited, in addition to speeding, for not having a valid insurance card.

When she was issued a ticket, she called Kroll “a skinhead cop” and also appeared to suggest that she would contact South Orange Village President Sheena Collum in response to the traffic stop.

Since the incident was reported and video distributed, critics have come forward to demand her resignation stating she should not be allowed to remain a member of the school board, while supporters contend she should be forgiven for experiencing a difficult, stressful incident and reacting to it emotionally.

“Like many parents, I was trying to get my children to their schools on time,” her statement continued. “When the police officer stopped me, I was upset, frustrated, and uncharacteristically out of sorts. And to my benefit, the officer did not react to my behavior. The officer kept an even tone in our interaction and performed his job well under the circumstances. I thank him for his patience.”

Lawson-Muhammed, who is in her second, three-year term on the board, is not up for re-election until November 2019. She did not indicate if this would affect any plans to run again.

School Board president Elizabeth Baker also issued a statement in which she indicated the district had reviewed the incident and the apology and would support Lawson-Muhammad remaining on the board.

See Baker's statement below:

Since I was made aware by the South Orange Village Administrator of the traffic stop incident involving my fellow Board member Stephanie Lawson-Muhammad, I have acted in consultation with the School District’s counsel to ensure adherence to all legal and ethical obligations. I also encouraged Ms. Lawson-Muhammad to personally apologize to Chief Kroll and engage in a dialogue that would repair the harms that her statements caused.  

I understand that Ms. Lawson-Muhammad and Chief Kroll have met and that Ms. Lawson-Muhammad has both personally and publicly apologized to Chief Kroll.  I want to thank Chief Kroll for his willingness to meet with Ms. Lawson-Muhammad and accept her apology.  This meeting reflects the beginning of a difficult, restorative dialogue.  Such a dialogue takes personal courage and a shared commitment to our community.  I ask the members of our towns to support Chief Kroll and Ms. Lawson-Muhammad in this process.      

Lawson-Muhammed's full statement is below:

First and foremost, I want to sincerely apologize for my uncharacteristic behavior displayed in the police video on April 27th.  I had an irrational response to being stopped for a traffic violation. I allowed my emotions to overwhelm me that morning, and I fell short of the standards to which I hold myself.

Like many parents, I was trying to get my children to their schools on time.  When the police officer stopped me, I was upset, frustrated, and uncharacteristically out of sorts.  And to my benefit, the officer did not react to my behavior. The officer kept an even tone in our interaction and performed his job well under the circumstances. I thank him for his patience.

I have personally apologized to Chief Kyle Kroll who, like me, is passionate about our community. He is not the person I made him out to be. He sincerely accepted my apology and agrees that we will work together to help heal our community. We have begun plans to work with community stakeholders to build stronger bonds and greater trust for the entire community.

Related article

Video Shows School Board Member In Altercation With Police at Traffic Stop in South Orange

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Cranford

Three School Buses Involved in Crash at Clark's ALJ High School

June 21, 2018

CLARK, NJ — Three buses collided in the Arthur L. Johnson High School parking lot around noon on Thursday in a chain-reaction crash. 

Students were on board at the time, according to Police Chief Pedro Matos. One driver and two students had minor injuries, Matos said.   

According to a Honeywell alert issued by the Clark Public School District, ...

2018 Cranford High School Graduation

June 22, 2018

CRANFORD - It was a beautiful day as the members of the Cranford High School Class of 2018 took their places on Memorial Field for the Graduation Ceremony on Thursday night. 

Class President Anna Kalafatis, Principal Mark Cantagallo, Superintendent Dr. Scott Rubin, Board of Education President Kurt Petschow, Jr., Salutatorian Emily Wilson, and Valedictorian Meg Cui each ...

Cranford High Senior Prom

CRANFORD - Cranford High School held its Senior Prom on Friday at the Birchwood Manor in Whippany. Check out the photos our readers submitted. 

Spring Art Show Displays Students' Creativity

CRANFORD - The Cranford High School Spring Art Show was held at the Cranford Public Library, on Tuesday. 

From 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., artwork from classes such as crafts, graphic design, photography, and drawing was on display for the public to promote the creative and unique projects done by students throughout the school year. 

Sports Betting Is Off And Running in New Jersey

June 14, 2018

OCEANPORT, NJ — Governor Phil Murphy officially ushered in sports betting in New Jersey when he made the initial wager at Monmouth Park  on June 14.

Governor Murphy, an avid soccer fan who has called ESPN’s “Sportscenter” his favorite show, placed the first bet  — $20 on Germany to win the World Cup. He also bet $20 on the N.J. Devils to ...

Wardlaw+Hartridge Class of 2018 Graduates at Commencement

June 24, 2018

EDISON, NJ -- Wardlaw+Hartridge School in Edison held its 135th Commencement Ceremony on Friday, June 8 under a giant tent on the back athletic fields.

The Class of 2018 marched in, led by valedictorian and class president Suraj Chandran of Edison and vice president Cathy Bi of Edison carrying the class flag. The program began with the Star-Spangled Banner and a welcome from Dr. Bob ...

Healthy U Spring Symposium Marks 10 Years of Community Impact

WESTFIELD, NJ — More than 100 Healthy U champions and partners from YMCAs and schools from all over the state gathered at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford on May 18 to celebrate 10 years of community impact. Healthy U was also formally presented with the 2017 CATCH® Award for Excellence in State Health. 

CATCH (Coordinated Approach to Child Health) is the ...

Summer Water Safety Tips

Summer is a great time for parents to ensure their children are equipped with essential water safety skills. The Westfield Area YMCA offers weekly swim lessons all summer long and in Monday-Thursday weekly sessions.

Drowning is the second leading cause of death for children ages 5-14. Remember these tips to ensure the water is an enjoyable and safe place to ...

'Half Time' delivers with sterling cast

MILLBURN, NJ – The Paper Mill Playhouse is putting on a smashing new production of “Half Time” to round out its current season.

With actress Georgia Engel in an engaging performance, the cast also features Donna McKehnie, Andre De Shieilds and Lilias White, among a host of other talents.

The musical centers on an effort to have seniors perform a dance number during ...

'Half Time' lights up Paper Mill stage

‘Half Time’ turns the tables on aging in gleeful production

By Liz Keill

MILLBURN, NJ – The Paper Mill Playhouse is putting on a smashing new production of “Half Time” to round out its current season.

With actress Georgia Engel in an engaging performance, the cast also features Donna McKehnie, Andre De Shieilds and Lilias White, among a host of other ...