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Head of Philadelphia's LGBT affairs office considering lawsuit after controversial traffic stop, arrest

Head of Philadelphia LGBT office says Pennsylvania police owe an apology after traffic stop
Head of Philadelphia LGBT office says Pennsylvania police owe an apology after traffic stop 02:38

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The executive director of Philadelphia's Office of LGBT Affairs claimed a Pennsylvania state trooper unjustly pulled her over and arrested her and her husband because she's Black. 

Video of part of the controversial traffic stop was posted to social media over the weekend.

During a Thursday morning news conference, Celena Morrison-McLean and Darius McLean, along with their attorneys, said they're considering a lawsuit following the Saturday morning incident.

"Darius and I did nothing wrong and did not deserve to be treated the way we were treated during the arrest," Morrison-McLean, who leads the city's Office of LGBT Affairs, said. "At a minimum, the Pennsylvania State Police owe Darius and I an apology that is equally as public as the way they disregarded our rights on Interstate 76."

The couple's attorneys said this all started after the couple picked up a car Saturday from a family member in New Jersey.

The two were driving in separate cars on the Schuylkill Expressway when Pennsylvania State Police said a trooper pulled Morrison-McLean over for multiple "vehicle code violations."

She believes race played a role.

"Yes, I believe it is because I'm Black," Morrison-McLean said.

State police said the trooper first approached McLean, who they said pulled up behind the trooper after his wife was stopped.

In a police report, the trooper said McLean became verbally combative toward him, but the couple's attorney, Kevin Mincey, said the trooper was the aggressor, claiming he pulled out his service weapon and forced McLean out of the car.

"Darius had his hands up, window down and his hazards on," Mincey said. "He explained, 'I stopped because you pulled over my wife.'"

Pennsylvania State Police said McLean refused multiple lawful orders from the trooper, who then arrested him.

"There's no resistance by Celena," Mincey said. "No resistance by Darius."

As he was being arrested, Morrison-McLean got out of her car and started recording video. 

A screenshot from a social media video showing a person being arrested on a highway.
A screenshot from the video showing the arrest on Interstate 76 in Philadelphia. Celene McLean-Morrison

"I've never felt more helpless than in those moments when the state trooper held my husband's life in his hands," Morrison-McLean said. "I yelled out to the officer, 'I work for the mayor' multiple times, hoping that would make him realize he was dealing with people he did not need to be afraid of."

The trooper then went on to arrest Morrison-McLean.

"The images of him pointing his gun at me and later charging at my wife, tackling her, as I laid handcuffed in the street, are pictures that I will never forget," McLean said. "A formal apology is nowhere near a measure of full compensation for what they have done to Celena and I. If anything, it is the bare minimum."

The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office said it's still investigating the incident and has not made a decision about whether to pursue charges against the couple.

The trooper in the traffic stop has been placed on restricted duty status and is not on patrol.

CBS Philadelphia asked Pennsylvania State Police to respond to the couple's allegations and is still awaiting a response.

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