Godwin, Halbert at odds after incident - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Godwin, Halbert at odds after incident

Police Director Larry Godwin Police Director Larry Godwin
Council member Wanda Halbert Council member Wanda Halbert

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Memphis Police Director Larry Godwin has launched an internal investigation into an incident involving the son of Councilwoman Wanda Halbert.

"The allegations are inappropriate," Halbert said. "They're unwarranted and I'm sure we'll get to the bottom of the issues."

Halbert had plenty to say after Godwin launched the Internal Affairs investigation into an incident involving her son, which happened last Saturday. Though Halbert's son, Kevin Burrus, was charged with simple marijuana possession, he was not booked or arrested.

"I need to know why," Godwin said.

Police say two patrol officers on another call overheard Halbert's son in a loud argument with a woman on Highland early Saturday morning. They pulled him over, and say he had a small amount of marijuana on him.

Halbert then arrived at the scene.

"Should an arrest have been made and if not, why did the officers choose not to?" Godwin asked.

Halbert insisted she wasn't trying to meddle.

"I'm a mother first, a City Council member second and I don't co-mingle the two," she said. "So it doesn't matter what kind of investigation they want to pursue. I welcome any investigation."

She says it was police who called her to the scene, not her son.

"Whether Ms. Halbert made the scene or not is irrelevant to me," Godwin said. "What I'm concerned about is all the officers on the scene from the patrolman to the supervisor did what they were supposed to do."

Godwin said an arrest on a misdemeanor is up to the officers on the scene.

Tension over the investigation seemed to spill over into a Memphis City Council committee meeting Tuesday.  As Halbert criticized Godwin's speed camera proposal, Action News 5's Kontji Anthony heard him tell his Deputy Director "I'm going to walk out."

Our camera then caught the door closing behind him, with the Deputy Director just a few steps behind.

Halbert didn't flinch, saying the city's traffic procedures criminalize African American males, including one of her constituents.

"The man just went to jail over and over and over again for speeding tickets," she said. "Not murdering someone, not robbing, but speeding tickets."

The exchange came after Godwin launched an internal investigation into a traffic stop involving Halbert's son this past Saturday, when officers wrote Halbert's son a ticket for simple marijuana possession instead of arresting him.

Godwin explained why he walked out.

"When I hear someone speaking about traffic tickets...the way I took it is, it is a big deal to get a traffic ticket," he said. "It is a big deal."

"When we stop violators Kontji, we find drugs, guns, wanted parties," Godwin added. "When we do traffic enforcement, that's where you catch your wanted individuals, because they're going to be mobile."

Godwin said he knows the scenario all too well.

"When my son got a ticket the other day, I'm very upset about it and he's going to pay for it," he said.

But Halbert said it's her job to ask tough questions.

"Doesn't matter what kind of internal investigation they launch or what accusation are hurled at me.  That's what my job is, and I ask my constituency to continue to trust and believe in my representation," she said.

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