State trooper who arrested Celena Morrison-McLean has been fired

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The state trooper who made a controversial arrest of trans woman Celena Morrison-McLean and her husband Darius McLean during a traffic stop on the Vine Street Expressway has been fired.

In a May 10 news release, Pennsylvania State Troopers Association president Stephen Polishan announced the firing, calling it “reprehensible.”

“This young trooper, on the job for only six months, deserved better from our department…Today, our department sent a terrible message to all troopers that politics matter more than doing the right thing,” Polishan said.

Prior to his dismissal, the trooper had been on restricted duty.

Lt. Adam Reed, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania State Police, confirmed the trooper is no longer on the force.

“I can confirm [the state trooper] is no longer employed by our agency,” Reed said in an email. “The investigation remains ongoing, however. Because of that, his name is not being released at this time.”

Morrison-McLean, 51, serves as executive director of the city’s Office of LGBT Affairs. McLean, 35, is the chief operating officer of the William Way LGBT Community Center and director of the Arcila-Adams Trans Resource Center. 

They couldn’t be reached for comment for this story.

The March 2 incident took place on a rainy morning in Center City. Morrison-McLean was pulled over by the trooper, allegedly for not having her headlights illuminated. Her husband drove up to the scene and allegedly was threatened at gunpoint by the trooper. Additionally, the officer allegedly used excessive force and profanity against both individuals. Morrison-McLean recorded part of the incident on her cellphone, before it was allegedly knocked out of her hand by the trooper.

State police tried to charge the couple with various offenses including resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and obstruction of justice. But the District Attorney’s Office declined the charges and the couple was released from jail later that evening.

At a March 7 news conference, the couple said they planned to file a lawsuit against the trooper. As of presstime, a lawsuit hadn’t been filed. They couldn’t be reached for comment for this story.

Shortly after the couple’s arrests, Mayor Cherelle Parker publicly expressed concern about the incident. This week, Parker had no comment regarding the trooper’s dismissal.

“Since it is a state employee involved — not a city employee — we have no comment,” said Parker’s spokesperson, Joe Grace.

Polishan, of the troopers association, said the dismissed trooper had been “abandoned” by the department. 

“This young trooper, on the job for only six months, deserved better from our department,” Polishan said. “The department’s leadership should have fought against the attacks made about this young man’s character. Instead, they abandoned him. We can only conclude this decision is a response to a politically charged atmosphere in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania, which is making it increasingly difficult for law enforcement to carry out even their most basic duties.”

According to Polishan, the incident could have ended with a traffic ticket or a warning for the couple. Instead, they refused to cooperate with the trooper’s commands. 

“Following his training, the trooper arrested both individuals when they refused to cooperate and follow his orders,” Polishan stated.

Polishan added: “The growing lack of respect for law enforcement and the rule of law and the failure to understand when one’s actions may lead to a member of law enforcement feeling threatened are becoming an epidemic that must end. All this is being done at the expense of those who are putting it on the line every day.”

The incident received widespread attention throughout the country. Anti-trans pundit Matt Walsh weighed in, falsely claiming that Morrison isn’t a trans woman. But the couple also received warm words of support from many social-media commenters.

This is a developing story and will be updated as additional information becomes available.

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