A Black food delivery driver won a six-figure settlement with the Minneapolis Park Board after an officer pulled a gun on her during a July 2019 traffic stop.
Jenice Hodge was working in north Minneapolis when she saw red and blue flashing lights in her rearview mirror, according to KSTP News. Minneapolis Park police officer Calvin Pham explained to the 42-year-old she was being pulled over for not wearing a seat belt and having her phone in her hand, but 60 seconds after pulling Hodge over, the officer suddenly drew his firearm and ordered her out of the car.
“I didn’t even have my driver’s license out of the sleeve and I had a gun pointed at my head,” Hodge told the outlet.
Bodycam footage shows a confused and scared Hodge with her hands through the sunroof, repeatedly telling the officer to “calm down” as he told her to get out of the car.
“Phone in one hand, wallet in the other,” Hodge noted while watching the footage in January. “Where’s the threat to pull your firearm out?” As it turns out, Pham later wrote in the incident report that he believed Hodge had a gun after noticing her valid and legal permit to carry a gun in her wallet. But, he never wrote that he actually saw a gun in the report.
“You didn’t see a firearm, you didn’t ask if I had a firearm, you just reacted to something that you see in my wallet,” she said, adding that she didn’t have her gun with her at the time of the stop –– which flamed memories of the 2016 shooting death of Philando Castile.
“That was the very first thing that ran through my mind,” Hodge said. “I’m going to die the same way that young man died.”
Castile was shot and killed by former officer Jeronimo Yanez during a traffic stop. Castile’s mother, Valerie Castile, said watching the footage of Hodge’s traffic stop was “absolutely terrifying” adding that “I know at that very moment, she thought about my son.”
“As a trained law enforcement officer, you’re supposed to be trained in how to de-escalate the situation,” Valerie Castile said. “And yet, we see these situations happen over and over and over again.”
Reading about Black trauma can have an impact on your mental health. If you or someone you know need immediate mental health help, text “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.