07/24/2012

Video: Traffic stop leads to Ala. officer's firing

Officer told internal affairs he pulled over a woman and her teenage daughter, believing there to be a domestic violence situation

By PoliceOne Staff

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — City officials have released the video that led to the firing of a Huntsville police officer for removing a driver from her car during a traffic stop.

City Council will decide Thursday whether to reinstate Officer Phillip Lee Jr., who says his firing in May was not supported by an internal review of the incident, The Huntsville Times reported

He told internal affairs that when he pulled over Edith Stewart in December, he believed there to be a domestic violence situation because Stewart was yelling and a young girl — her teenage daughter — was crying in the passenger seat.

In the video, Stewart opens her door and begins to yell at Lee when he yanks her from the vehicle. Then, she hits Lee in the chest and is thrown to the ground, which left her with minor abrasions and bruises.

Lee said his intention was to pull Stewart from the car, "removing her from the situation to try and calm her down."

Police Chief Lewis Morris determined Lee's actions during the traffic stop and another arrest in 2011 violated departmental policy. In February, the city settled a $25,000 legal claim filed by Stewart and her husband.

Hearing Officer Maureen K. Cooper, who reviewed evidence and witness testimony, concluded Lee "was rude and discourteous," but because Stewart struck him, "he had no choice but to arrest her."

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