A Pasadena officer filed a lawsuit Thursday, against the Pasadena Police Department alleging she was subjected to racial discrimination and retaliation at the hands of her department.
The lawsuit stems from a February 20 incident where Officer Taisyn Crutchfield states she used her police academy training to de-escalate a tense situation where a fellow officer smashed a Black, juvenile male’s face into a cactus like plant.
The lawsuit highlights this incident as related to the January killing of Charles Towns, a Black man, by deputies from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. It is stated that a month later police responded to a call involving Town’s two sons, one of whom expressed reasonable frustration over his father’s killing by law enforcement. After words were exchanged between the child and officers, one officer grabbed the child and shoved him face-first into a thorny plant.
"The Pasadena Police Department (PPD) has a history of racial discrimination, racial profiling, disparities of punishment of African American employees and retaliation against officers who are whistleblowers or complain about discrimination, harassment, and retaliation," a press release from Crutchfield's attorney said.
The 16-minute body cam footage released by the department in June shows Crutchfield lightly shoving the officer during his back and forth with another person at the scene. After witnessing the drastic measures the office took, Crutchfield felt prompted to intervene and prevent the situation from further escalating.
“Officer Taisyn Crutchfield fortunately followed state-wide police training and intervened to de-escalate the situation. Officer Crutchfield deserved a commendation for her swift and heroic action, avoiding needless violence,” her attorney wrote in the press release.
Upon returning to the department headquarters at the instruction of her sergeant, Crutchfiled was placed on administrative leave for six months without explanation. She was allowed to return to her reposition afterward. However, in a statement made to KKTV a representative for the city labeled Cructhfiled’s claims as false.
“The City will vigorously defend itself in this matter and the facts will prevail,” the statement said. “The Pasadena Police Department proudly serves the residents of Pasadena with honor and integrity, and is proud of its diversity throughout all ranks of the Department.”
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The suit also highlights an alleged racist culture inside the department, including those who used slurs but were still given promotions despite their inappropriate actions. Neither the precinct at the center of Crutchfield’s lawsuit nor any of the involved officers have been publicly named.
Aside from her successful career in law enforcement, Crutchfield is a nationally decorated NCAA track star and holds a Bachelo’rs and Master’s degree in criminology. The practicing beauty queen has also expressed her plans to compete in the 2024 Miss Oregon pageant.
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