Mayor Tom Potter heard controversial community testimony at his racial profiling committee last week, when an African American high school girl told the group that her family had been stopped in their car the previous weekend by a female police officer—who allegedly used "the N-word."
It was the first time the committee has heard a direct allegation about an officer using a racial epithet.
"It's quite rare for officers to be accused of this," says Lauri Stewart of the Independent Police Review. "I think officers have a pretty good notion that if they use language like this they will get in a lot of trouble. And honestly, I think most of them wouldn't use it anyway, even if they were so inclined."
Outside the committee meeting, the girl told the Mercury more about the alleged incident.
"She pulled us over outside the Dollar Tree in the Lloyd Center last Sunday," the teen said. "The officer asked my aunt how she could afford such a nice car, and she told her because she works for the government. And then as the officer was walking away she muttered it under her breath: 'N——s.'"
However, the girl's testimony does not appear to match with police records—officers have to record traffic stops on the dispatch system before making them, but dispatch records for Northeast Precinct on Sunday, August 12, and Sunday, August 5, show no traffic stops within several blocks of the Dollar Tree all afternoon. Also, the only female officer working the Lloyd Center on Sunday, August 12—who herself is African American—did not record making any traffic stops at all.
"Based on everything we've got, I can't see anything in our records that matches the alleged incident," says police spokesperson Sergeant Brian Schmautz.
Meanwhile, the girl, who was attending the meeting with several young women from the House of Umoja youth outreach program has not returned several calls from the Mercury for follow-up comment.
"The testimony that we heard on Thursday reflects the tension associated with this process," says Alejandro Queral of the Northwest Constitutional Rights Center, who serves on the committee.
Potter, who was personally attending the committee's August 16 monthly meeting for the first time since it first convened in January, did not respond directly to the teen's remarks.