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Alabama town apologizes to Black woman arrested after call about White neighbor

Andalusia mayor doubles down that police showed ‘no evidence of racism,’ but lawyer contends racism is why the city did ‘nothing to address her complaints’

YouTube video

The city of Andalusia, Alabama, is apologizing to a 40-year-old Black woman after a police officer “made a mistake” and arrested her following a complaint about her white neighbor’s loud music.

The whole thing started on Feb. 23 in a small town midway between Montgomery and Mobile when Twyla Stallworth called the police several times, complaining about the loud music being played by an unidentified white neighbor. When Stallworth felt the police weren’t addressing her complaint, she set off her car alarm to get the neighbor’s attention. That’s when police responded — to the white neighbor’s complaint, not hers.

Officer Grant Barton showed up, demanded to see Stallworth’s identification, threatened to give her a citation, and ultimately detained her for 15 hours while doing “nothing to address her multiple complaints,” said Harry Daniels, Stallworth’s attorney.

Stallworth, a real estate agent who grew up in Andalusia, was arrested on charges of obstruction, resisting arrest, and attempting to elude. The whole episode was recorded and posted to YouTube by Stallworth’s 18-year-old son, Jermani Marshall. Stallworth has not said whether she will pursue a lawsuit against the city.

YouTube video

Andalusia Mayor Earl Johnson said Barton had been disciplined for his incorrect actions but declined to elaborate. Police Chief Paul Hudson said Barton had been reprimanded. Still, the full arrest report has not been made available. Under Alabama law, police have plenty of leeway to withhold such records. Johnson also said police did, in fact, respond to Stallworth’s complaints — and even Stallworth acknowledged that the music went silent when the police showed up but blared again immediately after the police left.

What is considerably more difficult to accept is Johnson’s words that there was “no evidence of racism” because his only basis for that seems to be body cam video.

While body cam video can show many things, it can’t show the numerous complaints Stallworth registered, nor the alleged response to the complaints against the neighbor. It can only show how Barton interacted with Stallworth.

Andalusia’s half-hearted apology

Here’s the mayor statement of apology, mixed with a healthy helping of cover-your-backside:

“On behalf of the City of Andalusia and the Andalusia Police Department, I would like to apologize to Twyla Stallworth for her arrest in February.

“All charges against Ms. Stallworth are being dropped.

“The arresting officer has a clean record with our department, but he made a mistake in this case on February 23rd. He has been disciplined for failing in his duty to know the law.

“When I learned about this incident last week, I offered to meet with Ms. Stallworth. She declined.

“Ms. Stallworth has not filed a complaint with the police department, but her attorney alleges in his release that her arrest was racially motivated. We have reviewed body cam footage of the incident and see no evidence of racism.

“We have always worked hard in Andalusia to maintain great relationships among our diverse populations.

“In the video released by her attorney, Ms. Stallworth also claims that the police department has failed to respond to complaints she made about her neighbor. We also have reviewed internal evidence that shows the police department did respond.

“I have met with the Andalusia Police Chief and other leaders in the department. We have agreed that the entire department will receive additional training on Constitutional law, the laws of the State of Alabama, and the city of Andalusia’s ordinances, so that we will not have problems like this one in the future.”

Episodes like this, unfortunately, are not uncommon in Alabama. It was only two years ago that a Black Alabama pastor was arrested in Childersburg, 37 miles southeast of Birmingham, after he failed to show his ID to police while he was watering his neighbor’s flowers. Jennings said he was racially profiled after his white neighbors called the police on him.

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