CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

Murray City settles lawsuit with woman accusing police of racial profiling

Jul 14, 2021, 6:28 PM | Updated: Dec 30, 2022, 11:21 am
Murray Racial profiling...
(Photo: Getty Images)
(Photo: Getty Images)

MURRAY, Utah — The City of Murray is settling a lawsuit with a former Utah resident after she claimed she was falsely charged with a DUI because of racial profiling. Was it a case of “driving while Black”?

What happened to Donna Miller? 

In 2018, Donna Miller, a Black woman, was reportedly driving to nursing school. She was then pulled over and required to do multiple field sobriety tests. 

Miller said she passed the sobriety test three times and two breathalyzer tests came back with a reading of .00 alcohol in her bloodstream. Despite this, she was arrested and detained by Murray Police. 

She was terrified, not knowing the reason she was taken into custody. Miller said, “It really did skyrocket my anxiety and my PTSD. I made a lot of therapy visits.”

According to Miller, the arresting officer told other officers that he is convinced Miller was a regular marijuana user. However, she went through several different tests and all of them concluded she had no drugs or alcohol in her system. Despite passing the tests, Miller said she was still charged with a DUI.

“It was still very hard for me to process because I felt this was a smear campaign against me,” she said.

Miller and her attorney, Kristy Kimball, said they can’t think of any reason Miller would have been pulled over and charged other than it being a case of racial profiling. Kimball reported the city prosecutors do not have evidence to support any impairment charges.

“They let her go, but then the prosecutor still charged her with DUI,” Kimball says.

Kimball claims prosecutors tried to convince Miller to plead guilty to a lesser charge, but Miller refused. Miller had to deal with a lot of legal work to get her license reinstated and to have her records expunged of the arrest.

Kimball said the City of Murray offered a settlement in the past, but it was unacceptable.

“We felt like Murray City wasn’t taking it seriously. They had [offered] a very small settlement but it wasn’t meaningful, and, at the time, they weren’t proactively willing to engage in any kind of anti-bias training,” according to Kimball.

Murray City’s response to the accusation of racial profiling 

The City of Murray issued a statement, standing by the officer’s actions. Murray City officials say neither the officer nor the city admits to any wrongdoing, adding that the officer didn’t pull Miller over because of racial profiling. 

The statement reads, “Ms. Miller’s car was seen stopped perpendicular to traffic on State Street straddling two lanes of travel. Ms. Miller turned north on State Street. The officer initiated a traffic stop after he observed Ms. Miller drift at least four times outside her lane of travel.”

However, city officials said the officer was not wearing a body camera, and the dash-cam footage of the arrest didn’t show the officer’s observations before Miller was pulled over.

“The City believes the entire encounter was lawful. However, the City acknowledges that in today’s age of body cameras, not having a body camera on, even when for valid reasons, creates a question in the minds of the public,” the statement reads.

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Murray City settles lawsuit with woman accusing police of racial profiling