Kevin Reece, KHOU (Houston), August 6, 2015
The president of the African American Police Officers League joined the chorus of police unions statewide Thursday calling for State Representative Garnet Coleman to issue a public apology for his comments about being treated rudely by a “nasty” sheriffs deputy in a July traffic stop.
“I don’t understand it. And can’t stand by it,” said AAPOL president Eric Fagan, a senior police officer with the Houston Police Department, referring to Coleman’s interpretation of the traffic stop.
“He addressed him as sir, Mr. Coleman. So his take on it being some type of racial incident, I don’t see that either,” said Fagan.
Coleman was stopped by an Austin County Sheriff’s sergeant the morning of July 14th just before 9am in the eastbound lanes of I-10 near Sealy. Coleman, in his personal car with license plates that identify him as a state representative, was clocked on radar at 94 mph in a 75 mph zone. After a 9-minute traffic stop, which Coleman described two weeks later in a public hearing as “rude and nasty”, the deputy let him go with a warning. He was not issued a ticket.
“I was concerned about the way he was talking to me. I didn’t find it to be very respectful,” Coleman told KHOU 11 News Wednesday night when reached by phone on a business trip in Seattle. “I thought that the way he kept saying, that repeating the term over and over again was quite frankly rude,” he said of the deputy’s insistence that he slow down. “And the way he was talking to me like a child was nasty.”
The Austin County Sheriff released the un-edited dash cam video of the traffic stop to KHOU 11 News earlier this week to let the public judge the traffic stop for themselves.
“Representative Coleman’s an honorable man,” said Houston Police Officer’s Union president Ray Hunt. “And I believe that he’s going to review this tape look at it and realize that’s not how he remembered it to be and he’s going to issue an apology. I hope that’s the case anyway.”
We sent a link to the traffic stop video to Mr. Coleman Wednesday night. After watching it, he says his opinion has not changed.
“They may not have (thought it was rude). But they weren’t sitting in my seat,” Coleman said. “And if you know the history of my people, you know that being treated like a child or a boy is not something that we accept very well.”
“I was shocked at what Mr. Coleman had to say about it,” said Fagan. “We are clearly sensitive to matters of race. But we’re also sensitive when people throw up the race card and there’s no reason to do it. It’s like crying wolf.”
“Right is right and wrong is wrong. And in this incident he’s just wrong,” said Fagan.