Police released bodycam footage of a May traffic stop involving a black city councilman from McKinney, Texas, and things don't look good for the councilman, who accused police of racial profiling.
What was the traffic stop all about?
Councilman La'Shadion Shemwell accused a police officer of racial profiling back in May after a traffic stop and subsequent arrest. Following his story, which went viral, Shemwell walked back the initial claims after watching the bodycam footage.
Shemwell, who is an anti-police-brutality activist in addition to councilman, was reportedly driving approximately 20 mph over the posted speed limit, which caught a police officer's attention
The officer promptly pulled Shemwell over, but Shemwell insisted that the cop pulled him over for "being black with dreadlocks."
“He said he pulled me over because I was going 55 miles an hour on Highway 5, and it just didn’t add up to me,” Shemwell told KTVT-TV in May.
Shemwell, however, found himself arrested after he refused to sign two citations.
“[The officer] asked for my identification, but I made a statement like, ‘You know who I am. You know who I am. What is this all about? What’s going on here?’” Shemwell told KTVT.
The officer wrote Shemwell a ticket for speeding in addition to a ticket for not having an updated address on his driver's license.
According to reports, Shemwell repeatedly refused to sign the tickets, and the officer arrested him as a result.
Shemwell admitted to KXAS-TV that upon watching the footage of his arrest, he was argumentative and "combative" with the officer.
"I do feel like I played more of a role in being combative about my ticket than I initially thought," he said, adding, "I was upset. I’m still upset. I’m still frustrated. But do I want to make him out to be a racial profiler? I don’t know."
What happened then?
A day after initially speaking to the Texas outlets, Shemwell shared a Facebook video reversing course on his story once again. In the video, Shemwell doubled down on his initial claims that the officer pulled him over because he’s a black man.
Shemwell insisted that he wasn't speeding, and there was no way to prove that he was.
“I know I was not speeding,” he said in the 16-plus-minute video, revealing that he felt like he was "targeted." He added that he had a "right to be frustrated" for being "unlawfully detained."
Shemwell insisted that he is not anti-police, simply "anti-police brutality," and went on to insist that he is strip-searched — and more — every time he travels.
“This happens to me every time that I travel,” Shemwell explained.
Despite the controversy, Shemwell was adamant that he would not resign his position as councilman because he has done a "tremendous job" in his role.
“I’m a councilmember who leads with high integrity and shoulders the responsibility of building bridges in our community,” he added.
Just after the video was posted, Shemwell's lawyer shared a public statement alleging that Shemwell's traffic stop and arrest were racially motivated. The lawyer's statement pointed to several other traffic stops involving Shemwell that were all reportedly based on his race.
“[W]ith having one of their own black elected officials targeted, we sincerely hope that the city of McKinney will reconsider,” the statement read. “Race-based policing is a serious matter which must and should be addressed. Especially if the lives of McKinney’s minorities matter at all to its lawmakers.”
The incident and Shemwell's back-and-forth stance on the arrest caused much controversy in the community, with some people demanding that he apologize and even resign from city council, according to the Dallas Morning News.
So what's happening now?
Shemwell apologized to the city and police after flip-flopping several times with his accusations of racial profiling.
According to a May 23 report by the Morning News, the McKinney City Council voted 6-0 to approve a resolution "expressing disapproval" of Shemwell's actions during the traffic stop.
KDFW-TV reported that "Shemwell actually voted to censure himself" during the council meeting.
The station reported that his vote "doesn't change how he feels about the arrest, but he sees it as a way to move forward."
He added, "I'm sorry for the drama that has led us here tonight. On May 8th, I found myself fed up and frustrated at what I felt was another unnecessary and unwarranted traffic stop."
"If anybody's going to hold me accountable, I need to hold myself accountable," Shemwell said after the meeting, according to the Morning News. "I didn't want to put my own council members in a position to pin themselves against me."
Despite the censure, Shemwell will not be removed from his position as councilman, as it is a mere reprimand.