East Texas Fire Chief Traffic Stop Caught On Tape - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

12/04/07 - Longview

East Texas Fire Chief Traffic Stop Caught On Tape

A local Fire chief is pulled over by a police officer. An internal memo quotes the fire chief saying the whole encounter was racially motivated.  The fire chief says he didn't make that claim. It's a big mess in Longview right now, and we wanted to get to the bottom of it.  Was the stop racially motivated? Who even claims that it was? We sent KLTV 7's LaKecia Shockley to find out.

According to a Longview police internal memorandum, Fire Chief Michael Pruitt says he was at a stop light when his 10-year-old son took off his seat belt to hand his mother an I-Pod. Chief Pruitt says his son then put his seat belt back on and when they drove off, that's when a Longview police officer pulled him over. "I just wanted to know why she stopped me because there was no seat belt unbuckled while I was moving," said chief Pruitt.  The memorandum goes on to say Pruitt visited a police station about 30 minutes after the incident, telling an officer he believed the stop was quote, "racial profiling" but, he tells KLTV that's not what he said. "As far as racial profiling, I did not mention racial profiling. Now, the discussion was brought up but, I did not bring that discussion up. Longview police chief J. B. McCaleb said he stands behind the sergeants that wrote the internal memorandum. McCaleb explains the "racial profiling" discrepancy like this. "It may have been eluded to in the conversations and that's what the sergeants interpreted or heard and that's what they put in the memo." The Longview city manger has now investigated the incident. "As a city manager I looked at all aspects of it, and I'm comfortable that absolutely no racial profiling occurred," said city manager, David Willard. But, he still thinks fire chief Pruitt was in the wrong and that he should not have gone to the police station to complain. "I thought he used poor judgment as far as, he should have come to me personally if he had any issues, instead of going down to the police department,"said Willard. David Willard went on to tell KLTV despite the difference in who brought race into the issue, both sides have talked and now the issue is closed.

 LaKecia Shockley, Reporting. lshockley@kltv.com  

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