Andalusia police officer accused of assault, racism during response to noise complaint

Published 4:21 pm Friday, March 8, 2024

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City officials said officer disciplined for actions during the call; find no evidence of racism in reviewing incident

An Andalusia Police Officer is facing accusations of harassment and racial discrimination after an incident at the accuser’s home on Feb. 23, prompting an apology from city officials and disciplinary action against the officer.

An attorney representing Twyla Stallworth is accusing APD Officer Grant Barton of shoving 40-year-old Stallworth and arresting her on multiple charges after she would not present identification. The law firm says Stallworth was within her rights to deny providing identification within her home. The incident was recorded by Stallworth’s son, who attorneys said began video recording when he felt the exchange between Barton and his mother was escalating.

Stallworth is being represented by attorney Harry Daniels who said the incident began when Stallworth called the police multiple times to complain about a neighbor who was playing loud music. Receiving no response, Stallworth began setting off her car alarm in an effort to get the neighbor’s attention and convince him to turn down the music. Daniels said that while police did not respond to Stallworth’s calls, they did respond to the neighbor’s call about the car alarm. Local officials dispute that Stallworth’s calls were not responded to.

“Frustrated because Officer Barton threatened to cite and arrest her for the car alarm, but did nothing to address her multiple complaints, Stallworth pointed out the disparity suggesting it was racially motivated as Barton was returning to his police cruiser,” said a statement issued by the law firm.

Stallworth is black while the neighbor is white.

The attorney said that Barton returned to the front porch of Stallworth’s home and requested her identification. It is at that point, Daniels said, that Stallworth’s son began recording the encounter on his phone.

“The video shows Barton threatening to arrest Stallworth for failing to present identification despite the fact that state law only requires a person to do so when they are in a public place, not in their own home. When Stallworth goes back into her house in order to put on some shoes, Barton forcefully enters the home shoving past Stallworth’s son and grabbing her by the arm in order to handcuff her.

“Barton continued to escalate the situation despite the repeated pleas of Stallworth’s son for everyone to calm down and even shoves Stallworth onto a couch despite the fact that she was unarmed, had offered no aggression and wasn’t a threat to Barton or anyone,” Daniels said.

Stallworth was arrested and charged with obstruction, resisting arrest and attempting to elude, according to Daniels; however, city officials said those charges are being dropped. Andalusia Mayor Earl Johnson apologized to Stallworth in a statement released by the city Friday afternoon.

“On behalf of the City of Andalusia and the Andalusia Police Department, I would like to apologize to Twyla Stallworth for her arrest in February. All charges against Ms. Stallworth are being dropped,” Johnson said.

The mayor added that the officer has been disciplined in regard to the matter and that he offered to meet with Stallworth, but the invitation was declined..

“The arresting officer has a clean record with our department, but he made a mistake in this case on February 23rd. He has been disciplined for failing in his duty to know the law.

“When I learned about this incident last week, I offered to meet with Ms. Stallworth. She declined. Ms. Stallworth has not filed a complaint with the police department, but her attorney alleges in his release that her arrest was racially motivated.We have reviewed body cam footage of the incident, and see no evidence of racism. We have always worked hard in Andalusia to maintain great relationships among our diverse populations,” Johnson said.

Officials dispute the claim that Stallworth’s noise complaints were not responded to by police.

“In the video released by her attorney, Ms. Stallworth also claims that the police department has failed to respond to complaints she made about her neighbor. We also have reviewed internal evidence that shows the police department did respond,” the mayor said.

In addition to the disciplinary action against Barton, the mayor said the city’s law enforcement officers will undergo training.

“I have met with the Andalusia Police Chief and other leaders in the department. We have agreed that the entire department will receive additional training on Constitutional law, the laws of the State of Alabama, and the City of Andalusia’s ordinances, so that we will not have problems like this one in the future,” Johnson said.

A representative with the law firm stated the legal team is currently looking into all of its legal options, including filing a lawsuit.

“Nevermind that Officer Barton needlessly escalated the situation, forcefully entered Ms. Stallworth’s home and physically assaulted her over a noise complaint. Nevermind that he arrested her for exercising her constitutional rights and nevermind that he misquoted a law that doesn’t require a woman in her own home to present identification,” Daniels said. “He was leaving. He was walking back to his car ready to drive away right up until she called out his racism. Calling out racism isn’t illegal. Using your badge to intimidate a 40-year-old mother is.”

The video of the incident is available on the Wukela Communications’ YouTube page by clicking here.

A statement from Mayor Earl Johnson can be accessed here.