HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – A Huntsville mother wants answers and is asking for accountability after she said UAH Police made assumptions toward her teenage son during a traffic stop.
Chanda Crutcher said it was a normal night for her son Caleb Crutcher. He had called her around 11:10 pm On October 3 to say he was on his way home from work, “his routine is very consistent,” she said.
The 17-year-old Hazel Green senior was leaving from his part-time job at Top Golf in Huntsville. While driving down University Drive, he was spotted by UAH Police. It wasn’t until he had made a right onto Sparkman Drive that he was pulled over.
According to Chanda, UAH police had told her son they pulled him over for a cracked tail-light and although it was a minor traffic violation, he was still asked to get out of his car. She said while he and his car were being searched, no citation or warning was given.
After UAH police allowed Chanda and her husband to watch the footage of the traffic stop, she said he was repeatedly asked if he was on weed or crack. He was even asked if he had “dead prostitutes in the car.”
Chanda Crutcher had tears in her eyes when she revisited the footage that UAH police showed her of her son’s traffic stop. “We watched this officer display something that we shouldn’t be accepting of as a community,” she said. She described her son as a young man of character, that he was respectful, compassionate, and funny.
Caleb, who was confused as to why he was being pulled over did everything his parents taught him, “I was wondering why they asked me to get out of the car, but I was just going to do everything they asked me and told me to do,” Caleb said.
While Caleb was being taunted and searched, the footage shows that he remained respectful and compliant the whole duration of the stop. “The chief of police told me over the phone I had a very respectful son, but I already knew that,” Chanda said.
The UAH Police department is a fully empowered state law enforcement agency but Chanda believes that being attached to an institution, like the University, should mean something more. “You have set such a standard in our community for higher education, set the standard for how we treat people, specifically our young black men.”
Chanda has been in contact with UAH president Darren Dawson and says she felt how genuine he was with her. “We’ve got to do better, I truly believe we are better together, but that starts with holding each other accountable and UAH you are going to be held accountable.”
Dawson released a statement today stating, “The words and actions by UAH police during a traffic stop on October 3, 2020, do not represent who we are as an institution. I have spoken with the family of the young driver to offer my sincere apologies and address the family’s thoughts, ideas and concerns.”
Chanda spoke from a place of love, filled with frustration and tears, she wanted UAH to know, “I will be an advocate for those who don’t have one, I’ll be their voice, we’ll be their voice. I am many mamas, I am many fathers, I am many community members who are fed up and we’re not going to allow it, not on our watch.”
Chanda says UAH not only owes her son an apology, but they have an obligation to this community to solve this problem once and for all. When asked, Caleb said he just wanted one thing from UAH police. “Treat everybody the same, just show everyone the same respect that they would anybody else.”
The status of the officers involved is not yet known at this time.
UAH Statement in full
Here at UAH, our core principles include acting with compassion and respecting all persons by embracing cultural humility, diversity and person-centered care.
The words and actions by UAH police during a traffic stop on October 3, 2020, do not represent who we are as an institution. I have spoken with the family of the young driver to offer my sincere apologies and address the family’s thoughts, ideas and concerns.
We are continuously looking for ways to improve our service to the UAH and Huntsville communities. We will use this as a learning and training opportunity. Our action plan includes:
Increase Accountability and Transparency
- We are reviewing UAHPD policies and procedures to ensure they follow best practices, provide channels to report concerns and always ensure transparency.
Community Centered Approach
- We will be proactive and increase positive interactions with the campus and UAH community as well as community partnerships.
• UAHPD will undergo additional training.
Each of you is vitally important to us as an individual. We recognize our responsibility as a university to ensure that all members of our community are treated fairly, equitably, and with understanding. We will work diligently to embody our core values of integrity and respect, diligence and excellence, inclusiveness and diversity.