Forty-year-old Tanya Fox told people attending a village board meeting in Caseyville, Illinois, on Feb. 20 that she was racially profiled and detained by officers from the Caseyville Police Department on Jan. 8.
Fox was on her way to work around 7:45 a.m. when the police stopped her. Officers told her that she was being stopped because she was seen leaving a hotel in a “high-drug area” and didn’t make a complete stop before turning right at a red light.
Fox, who was temporarily staying at the hotel with her family after being displaced, told the officers that she had no drugs. After Fox accused the police of profiling her, one officer told her it was not harassment because the hotel was in a high drug traffic area.
Officers went back and forth with Fox, who asked them to call their supervisor, for approximately 35 seconds before pulling her from her vehicle.
“It’s not harassment because that hotel is high with drug traffic. You go that early in the morning, okay? Your ID returns out Alton. You’re from Belleville. And then you leave after you went there. The car was off, then the car was on.”
Another police officer also claimed the stop was warranted due to the area.
“What he was trying to explain to you is it’s a high drug area, OK? You’re in and out. You don’t return out of there, OK? And we already know —”
“I’m not a drug addict,” interrupted Fox.
A third Caseyville police officer told Fox if she didn’t have any drugs, she would be let go.
“It’s not harassment. It’s doing police work,” said the officer. “If we find out you don’t have anything to do with drugs, then we’ll let you go.”
Fox also claimed that the officers injured her when handcuffing her by twisting her fingers and arm. The police found no drugs on Fox or in her vehicle. The police report had no mention of drugs or the hotel.
Fox was written tickets for having expired license plates and obstruction for not complying with the police officers upon being pulled over.
Community activist JD Dixon also spoke out at the village meeting in defense of Fox. He later said what happened to Fox was trauma and condemned overt policing.
“That is trauma,” said Dixon. “You’re watching the video and you’re seeing what overt policing has done to Black people in America. How do you go forward not being afraid when they can use any excuse to pull you over? It has to stop, and that’s why these officers have to be held accountable for these actions.”
Caseyville Police Chief Tom Coppotelli denied the officers did anything wrong and said they acted with compassion, despite admitting the officers received “verbal counseling” for comments made during the stop.
“I had the Illinois State Police Public Integrity Unit review this case and they said that it’s perfect, there’s nothing wrong with this case, there’s no sign of racial profiling or anything that our officers did wrong,” said Coppotelli. “I also want to tell you that I don’t find any evidence of racial profiling, and our officers acted with professional conduct, they acted with compassion, and I stand by their decision on that traffic stop that day.”