Blow the Whistle: Black Woman State Trooper Files Explosive Discrimination Lawsuit in Michigan, Exposing Police Brutality

A video obtained by the Detroit Free Press shows white state troopers slamming a black motorist with a disability onto the pavement
Image: YouTube

A now-retired Michigan State Trooper is a whistleblower in an explosive lawsuit that reveals a history of racial discrimination and police brutality in her department.

First Lt. Twana Powell, who led the internal affairs division for the Michigan State Police, exited her job last year—but she isn’t going quietly.

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“MSP suffers from a pattern of discrimination against both citizens and agency employees,” said the 25 year veteran of the agency, in the lawsuit scheduled for trial next year in Ingham County Circuit Court, reports the Detroit Free Press.

Powell said she wanted prosecutors to review the arrest for unlawful excessive force but a high-level supervisor 86-ed her request.

As can be expected, State Police, notably overtly white and male, have denied the claim.

At the center of the lawsuit is a 2017 violent traffic stop that turned into the brutalization of a black motoristwho is disabledby a police officer, who is white.

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December 2017 mugshot of Jason Spicer, the disabled motorist who Michigan State Troopers brutalized during traffic stop.
Photo: Oakland County Sheriff’s Office via FOIA (Detroit Free Press)

The incidentwhich involved a state trooper pulling a suspected drunken driver Jason Spicer from his vehicle and slamming him facedown to the groundcaught on dashcam video and obtained by the Free Press through the Freedom of Information Act. The litigation noted that the trooper Mark Carroll used excessive force and noted how he was “face-planting” the suspect onto the pavement.

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Powell, who claims she was also referred to as “a black bitch” by an employee under investigation for workplace harassment, said the trooper’s actions were “discriminatory and potentially criminal.”

Powell spent her career investigating cops, judges, mayors, even the head of her own agency—who posted a meme on social media disparaging athletes who protest during the national anthem—which led to five days of docked pay.

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Another high-profile case she worked on was an assault case against ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

Powell aspired to be the first black female state police captain but retired last year after experiencing “unrelenting discriminatory treatment and retaliatory actions.”

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She alleges that she complained verbally and in writing about race and sex discrimination and a hostile work environment.

If the case goes to trial, a bigger light will be shone on the culture and practices of the Michigan State Police.

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State Police spokeswoman Shanon Banner told the Free Press: “The department will not litigate this civil lawsuit in the press. The details portrayed in the lawsuit are merely the allegations of the plaintiff, and the defendants look forward to the opportunity to respond in court with the facts surrounding these incidents.”

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About the author

Karu F. Daniels

Hailing from "the thorough borough" of Brooklyn, Mr. Daniels has written for The New York Times, Associated Press, CNN, Essence, VIBE, NBC News, The Daily Beast, The New York Daily News and Word Up!