A Miss Black Texas U.S. Ambassador says she was just trying to go to Walmart when her night ended in her going to jail for a charge of resisting arrest and the police chief calling her a “black bitch.”
Commerce City Manager Darrek Ferrell said officials spoke with the police chief and the officers involved about the incident before the issue started circulating online, and details provided by the officers conflicted with the woman’s account. He declined to specify which details.
“We’re in discussions with an independent investigator so everything can be looked at objectively,” Ferrell said. He declined to name the independent investigator.
Carmen S. Ponder said in her own account and through an attorney that she was driving on Saturday behind a car that kept randomly braking, suddenly accelerating and drifting out of the lane in Commerce, Texas. Thinking the driver of the vehicle could be drunk, Ponder said she signaled and drove around the vehicle.
She said she drove into a Walmart parking lot, but the car followed her and a man started yelling at her, saying he was teaching his 14-year-old daughter to drive and Ponder should not have driven around her. Ponder said she ignored the man at first but eventually told him that that was illegal before she walked into the store.
She said the man responded, “oh whatever, you black bitch.”
Ponder said she came back outside after she had purchased her items and another man approached her, showed her a police badge and “started screaming.” Her attorney, Lee Merritt, said it was a plain clothes officer and the officer told Ponder the man who had been yelling at her was Commerce Police Chief Kerry Crews, and she had “better apologize.”
Ponder said she declined and kept walking to her car, when the officer grabbed her and told her she was being detained. Merritt said she then called 911 on her cell phone, and when those officers arrived the plain clothes officer told them she was evading arrest. The officers arrested Ponder, and she said she was held in jail for 24 hours and charged with evading arrest.
Ferrell said he could not speak to how long Ponder spent in jail but that she had been charged with evading something, though he was unsure what the exact charge was.
“Miss Black Texas spent the night in jail,” Merritt wrote on Facebook. “Her only crime ... the color of her skin.”
Ponder is trying to raise $10,000 on You Caring for attorney’s fees to fight the charges.
“My family is a typical middle class family and we do not have any wiggle room to afford the attorney’s fees and city charges. I am a full-time student looking for permanent employment and this charge will hinder my job search,” Ponder wrote. “I will not be able to pass a background check for anything.”
Ponder is the former Miss Black Texas U.S. Ambassador, which the website says is a position meant “to encourage, empower and enlighten, communities’ states and nations. Our purpose is to be a rising voice in the community and to make difference, by providing educational forums and events that focus on health disparities, poverty, violence and major issues plaguing the African American community.”
Ponder is also a Dean’s List student at Texas A&M University-Commerce and an intern with the Hunt County District Attorney, according to her You Caring page.