June 16, 2017 17:38 GMT by huffingtonpost.com

Charges Dropped Against Miss Black Texas Winner Arrested In Walmart Parking Lot

Charges Dropped Against Miss Black Texas Winner Arrested In Walmart Parking Lot

Carmen Ponder alleged last month that she was unlawfully arrested in a fit of racially charged road rage.

Written by Hayley Miller

Charges were dropped against a Miss Black Texas winner who alleged her arrest last month in a North Texas Walmart parking lot was racially motivated.

A Hunt County district attorney announced earlier this week that an evading arrest charge against Carmen Ponder had been dropped due to lack of evidence.

“Of course, we believe those criminal charges to be baseless in the first place,” Lee Merritt, Ponder’s civil rights attorney, said during a press conference Wednesday. “There was no lawful reason for her arrest ... There was no crime committed besides the crime of the unlawful arrest of Ms. Ponder.”

Ponder, 23, alleged last month that Kerry Crews, the police chief of Commerce, Texas, directed another officer to arrest her when she refused to apologize to a motorist who had harassed and berated her. Ponder said the driver followed her into a Walmart parking lot, shouted at her, and called her a “black bitch” in a fit of road rage.

Ponder first identified Crews as the driver, but later said she believed he was one of the men who later intervened instead.

Video released this week reportedly showed Crews flashing his badge and approaching Ponder as she exited the Walmart. She then called police who were directed by Crews to arrest Ponder when they arrived on the scene.

The city hired an attorney to conduct an independent investigation, which found there was no racial bias involved in the arrest. The investigation cleared Crews of any wrongdoing, though he remains on administrative leave, a spokesman for the CPD told HuffPost.

Merritt and local media reports have identified the actual driver as elected official Michael Beane, a Commerce Independent School Board Trustee. Neither Beane nor the school board returned multiple requests for comment.

Beane was not in attendance during a Tuesday night school board meeting where Board President Kathleen Hooten said the district would consult legal counsel about the conduct of one its board members, according to The Commerce Journal.

Ponder’s attorney tweeted Tuesday that “demands for justice remain.” Merritt and his client continued to call for Crews’ termination and reportedly plan to file a civil rights lawsuit.

Read more at huffingtonpost.com