Ciera Calhoun, a black nurse in her late 20s, accused police officers of racially profiling her and her friends during a traffic stop in Lee's Summit, Missouri, according to the Kansas City Star.
What did the nurse allege?
In a viral — and since deleted — Facebook post, Calhoun said as a result of the treatment she and her fellow nurse friends reportedly endured at the hands of police, she no longer distrusts authorities — she outright hates them.
Calhoun wrote, "So I went home to Kansas City this past weekend. Last night I hung out with some of my friends in [Lee's Summit], which is [considered] a suburban area out there."
"We got into the rental I rented and start driving," she continued. "A police [car] pulls us over right away. The police officer walks up to the car to tell me he pulled me over for having my lights off."
Calhoun added that she told the officer she was operating a rental vehicle, and didn't realize that the lights hadn't come on. According to Calhoun, when she told the officer that, he responded by telling her that he also believed he saw a plastic bag fly out from the car's window.
Calhoun denied that anything had been thrown out the window and said that the officer asked to see her rental agreement and license. He returned after 10 minutes, according to Calhoun, and asked her to step out of the vehicle.
"Now I went from confused to being just upset," Calhoun wrote. "This police officer gave me 2 warnings. One for not having my lights on, which I'm okay about accepting that because I was truly at fault."
"He then gave me a second warning," she added, "which was a driver license violation. Now for those who don't know, I have lived in [T]exas for the last [two] years with a valid Texas license. The officer explained to me that my Missouri licensed showed expired and he had to go with what my Missouri license says because I was driving on Missouri roads."
Calhoun alleged that her interaction with the police didn't end there and that the officer told her that he wants to search the vehicle because of the plastic bag that caught the officer's attention.
Calhoun wrote that at this point, another cruiser pulled up to the scene, and an officer exited the vehicle and told the rest of the women to step out of the car so that he can search the vehicle.
One of the officers searched the vehicle, according to Calhoun's recollection, and emerged with what he believed may have been "THC particles." The unidentified substance was field tested for THC, but came back negative, according to Calhoun.
Calhoun said that another officer — who had been looking for the bag that had reportedly blown from the car — approached the vehicle and said that he'd found it, but discovered that it was empty and may have simply been on the road when Calhoun's car drove over it, kicking it up into the air.
"Now let me tell y'all," Calhoun wrote. "[Three] black nurses with [Bachelor's] degrees and [Master's] degrees were standing at the side of the road for an hour being harassed."
"[These] police officers had their hands on their guns the whole time I tell you," she continued. "I can honestly say I don't feel safe around police officers at all. I didn't care for police before, [b]ut now I can say I hate them to the core of me."
"I felt so offended. Never received an apology."
Calhoun also went on to call out one of the officers by name and even identified him by his badge number.
"There are some sketch cops out there who are willing to go by any means to bring black people down and [it's] beyond sad," Calhoun cautioned. "Be careful out there."
What happened after she made her post?
According to the Star, Calhoun said that she felt the officers just "kept trying to find something."
The Star reported that each of Calhoun's friends provided similar accounts of what had purportedly happened during the traffic stop.
Lee’s Summit Police Sgt. Chris Depue told the outlet that the plastic bag may indeed have been kicked up as Calhoun's car passed it over.
“So if they dumped it, I’d smell it,” he said. "It’s possible it was a piece of trash that kicked up in just the right way. But at the same time I saw what I saw, so I’m going to run with it until I know it’s not there.”
Lee’s Summit Police Chief Travis Forbes acknowledged Calhoun's claims and said that racial profiling is a “serious allegation.”
“Biased-based policing is prohibited," he added. "We look into any complaints about this very seriously.”
Forbes said that the department launched an investigation into the alleged incident after the complaint had been made via Calhoun's Facebook post.
“There’s nothing sinister or nefarious here,” Depue said, according to the outlet.
Depue said that the officer was "cordial" with all of the women throughout the traffic stop.
Depue added that “getting stopped by the police can be a scary thing” and noted that, to a person sitting in the driver's seat, a firearm would be at "eye-level."
“I get it,” he said.
According to the department, the officer did wrongly give Calhoun a warning for driving with an improper license — but the department called the warning a "training issue" rather than profiling or giving Calhoun a hard time.
The outlet reported that Calhoun said a captain called her to discuss the viral Facebook post and told her that the posting was "derogatory" toward the department.
“Her post is derogatory,” Depue said, and noted that if Calhoun insisted on "sticking by her allegations, it will be our plan to not only release the video of the stop, [but to] refute her allegations and release the screenshots of her Facebook posts that she has now taken down. We don’t want to be ugly about this but she is making a serious allegation that is simply not true and we will show the public the entire body of evidence regarding the stop.”
The nurse ended up removing the social media post, and the Lee's Summit Police Department did reveal the dashcam footage.
You can view the footage in the video below. Throughout the video, police are cordial and courteous to Calhoun and her passengers.