A Black woman who won a $100,000 settlement from the Minneapolis Park Board after a park police officer held her at gunpoint is now speaking out about the incident. In 2019, Jenice Hodge was delivering food when she was pulled over for what she thought would be a routine traffic stop.
In body camera footage from the incident, officer Calvin Pham could be heard informing Hodge that he pulled her over for being on her phone and not wearing a seatbelt. However, the woman informed Pham that she was using her phone’s GPS to deliver food and said her safety buckle was on while her arm was over the other strap, which she had never been pulled over for before.
The officer then asked for her license, which she went to retrieve from her purse.
Less than 60 seconds after pulling her over, Pham had his gun drawn at the woman and commanded her to step out of the vehicle.
“I was confused and scared, and I didn’t know what was going on,” she said.
Hodge raised her arms through her car’s sunroof, but refused to leave her vehicle.
“Step out of the car, now. I will rip you out if you do not step out of the car now,” Pham could be heard telling her.
The woman finally stepped out of the car and asked why she was being apprehended, before Pham pushed her face to the ground.
“What did I do to cause this reaction from him?” she recalled.
According to Pham’s police incident report, he noted a weapons permit in Hodge’s wallet, which prompted his decision to pull his gun on her.
“I observed a card in her wallet that appeared to be an MN PERMIT TO CARRY, which made me believe that JENICE may have a gun,” it read.
Hodge confirmed that she does have a permit to legally carry a firearm, but Pham never reported seeing a gun.
“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.
Pham also claimed Hodge appeared to be “trying to conceal something or reaching for a weapon,” which she denied.
The woman was arrested and charged with obstructing the legal process and marijuana possession, though the charges were dropped after she pleaded guilty to driving with a suspended license. She filed a civil lawsuit against the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board and received a settlement of $100,000; after which Pham resigned from the police department.
Hodge said the incident reminded her of the 2016 death of Philando Castile, who was shot and killed by a police officer during a traffic stop.
“That was the very first thing that ran through my mind,” she said. “I’m going to die the same way that young man died.”
Castile’s mother, Valerie Castile, also reacted to the “terrifying” body camera footage.
“As a trained law enforcement officer, you’re supposed to [be] trained in how to de-escalate the situation. And yet, we see these situations happen over and over and over again,” she said.
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