Pa. trooper charged at Philly LGBTQ+ leader as she recorded traffic stop, lawyers say

The arrest made national headlines over the weekend and has prompted questions over the car stop and use of force.

Listen 1:12
Celena Morrison, Philadelphia's executive director of LGBT Affairs is arrested along with her husband following a traffic stop on I-76.

Celena Morrison, Philadelphia's executive director of LGBT Affairs, was arrested Saturday along with her husband following a traffic stop on I-76. (6abc)

Philadelphia’s top LGBTQ+ official and her husband say they plan to file a civil lawsuit after being arrested by state police over the weekend.

Celena Morrison-McLean, who leads the mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs, and her husband, Darius McLean, were arrested by a Pennsylvania state trooper Saturday morning. The couple said they were taking a car to a mechanic when Morrison-McLean was pulled over on Interstate 76.

McLean, who attorneys said was following his wife in a rental car, pulled up behind the state trooper’s vehicle. McLean recounted the experience Thursday, saying the officer immediately approached his vehicle with his gun drawn.

“I never imagined that I would ever be staring at a police officer pointing his gun at me while screaming at me while being pulled out of my car, or being handcuffed … while in the rain and on the ground on the side of the highway,” McLean said. “The images of him pointing his gun at me and later charging at my wife — tackling her — as I laid handcuffed in the street are pictures that I never forget.”

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

Morrison-McLean called the incident “unjust,” adding she was afraid the worst would happen.

“I yelled out to the officer, ‘I work for the mayor,’ multiple times, hoping that would make him realize he was dealing with people he should not be afraid of,” Morrison said.

No charges have been filed against the couple thus far. Earlier this week, Philadelphia’s district attorney said charges were pending further investigation.

The unnamed officer has been placed on restricted duty, according to Pennsylvania State Police.

Kevin Mincey, who is representing the couple, demanded an apology Thursday and called for changes to ensure similar incidents don’t happen again. He also refuted claims that Morrison-McLean was tailgating the officer.

“Celena gave herself maybe two to three car links… between herself and the state trooper because, quite frankly, nobody would reasonably knowingly tailgate a state trooper on the highway,” he said.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

Mincey added McLean’s actions did not prompt the use of force.

“Darius had his hands up, his window down and his hazards on, [he said,] ‘I stopped because you pulled over my wife. I’m following my wife,’” Mincey said. “The officer told Darius to get the F out of the car, then he went around to the driver’s side of the vehicle and pulled Darius out of the car.”

Mincey said they were waiting to view the trooper’s dashcam and audio from his microphone.

Get the WHYY app!

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal