DALLAS - The charges against a former Miss Black Texas pageant winner have been dropped due to lack of evidence, the Hunt County district attorney announced.
Carmen Ponder was arrested outside of a Commerce Walmart on May 20. Her account of what exactly happened during this incident has changed several times.
The beauty queen claims that after a road rage incident with the driver of a pickup truck, the driver followed her to Walmart and confronted her. Initially, she identified the driver as Commerce Police Chief Kerry Crews and claimed he called her a derogatory name. But Ponder later admitted she wrongly identified the driver.
Cell phone video released by the city captured the exchange between Ponder and Chief Crews. Ponder was calling 911 from the Walmart entrance.
“Yes, I have someone who says they're an officer trying to detain me,” she told the dispatcher. He's the friend of a guy who called me a black b****.”
Police documents say Ponder got into a road rage incident with a man in a truck, now identified as Commerce ISD School Board Trustee Michael Beane.
Ponder says they both pulled into Walmart, where Beane called her a derogatory name. Police say he had already called 911 and then happened to run into Chief Crews.
Not long after, video shows Crews go back into Walmart and pull Ponder aside and flash her his police ID.
“He's telling me that I'm being detained and he's waiting for officers to get here,” Ponders told the dispatcher. “I am trying to get in my car and leave.”
On the cell phone video recorded by a witness, Ponder stood by both Crews and Beane until an on-duty police officer arrived. Crews tells the sergeant to handcuff her.
Body cam video shows Ponder being arrested. She was charged with evading arrest or detention. An affidavit claims she "evaded detention by walking away from Chief Kerry Crews while he was saying, 'Wait until I find my witness.'” But the Hunt County DA dropped that charge for insufficient evidence.
"I did trust the law,” Ponder told FOX 4. “And the law did come into play, and it did show that I did not do anything wrong."
Ponder says she was told to apologize to the chief, and that's why she believed she was being arrested. But that is not heard on video nor is it in any report. However, it is the reason her attorneys want to file a civil rights lawsuit.
Attorney Lee Merritt, Ponder’s attorney, is calling for Crews' termination.
"There was no crime committed besides the crime of the unlawful arrest of Ms. Ponder, the unlawful detention,” the attorney said.
During a Tuesday night school board meeting, the Commerce ISD school board president said the district is consulting with lawyers about the conduct of one of its members. Beane was not there.
An independent investigation found the police chief exonerated of any wrongdoing and found there was no racial bias involved in this arrest. Ponder's attorney maintains she was arrested because she's black and did not apologize to the white police chief.
Crews declined FOX 4's request for an interview since he remains on administrative leave.