Philadelphia official, husband at center of controversial expressway arrest video speak out

ByTaRhonda Thomas WPVI logo
Friday, March 8, 2024
Couple at the center of controversial I-76 traffic stop speak out
Couple at center of controversial I-76 traffic stop speak out: 'Never felt more helpless'

PHILADELPHIA -- For the first time, we're hearing from the two people who are at the center of the controversial traffic stop involving a Philadelphia city leader. They say the experience was traumatic, and Pennsylvania State Police is not telling the full story.

"I've never felt more helpless than in those moments when that state trooper held my husband's life in his hands," said Celena Morrison-McLean who is director of the city's Office of LGBT Affairs.

Morrison was behind the camera recording the now-viral video of her husband, Darius McLean, being held down by a state police trooper along the side of an expressway Saturday morning.

Morrison-McLean can be heard yelling, "That's my husband," and "I work for the mayor!"

In a press conference with her husband and attorneys, she explained why she said that to the trooper.

"Fearing the worst was about to 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 did not need to be afraid of," she said.

Their attorneys say Morrison and her husband were coming from picking up a car from a family member in New Jersey. They were back in Philadelphia on the I-76 expressway when they encountered the trooper.

"They came upon a state trooper that was driving in front of Celena," said Kevin Mincey, an attorney with Mincey, Fitzpatrick, Ross law firm.

He said that Morrison left a distance equal to two or three cars between herself and the car of the trooper, who can be heard in the video accusing Morrison-McLean of tailgating. He also said the trooper was speeding up and slowing down while in front of Morrison-McLean.

"When Celena slowed down and switched lanes, the trooper wedged himself between Celena's vehicle and Darius' vehicle and immediately hit the lights and sirens," said Mincey.

Morrison's husband pulled behind the trooper.

"There's no way I was leaving my wife on the side of the road with a state trooper," said Darius McLean. "I had to stop to make sure Celena was ok when I saw her being pulled over by a trooper."

"The trooper never approached Celena's vehicle. He immediately approached Darius' car. And when he did, he had his gun drawn," said Mincey.

The McLeans say it's not the traffic stop itself, but how they were treated that's a concern.

"The trooper was aggressive. I think it's clear from the video that the trooper was aggressive," said Mincey.

Attorneys say they want three things: truth, training for police and transparency in the investigation.

"The name of the officer is being withheld for some reason. We don't know his background. We don't know if he's been involved in something like this before," said attorney Riley Ross III.

State police would only tell Action News the incident "remains under investigation."

"At the minimum, the Pennsylvania state patrol owe Darius and I an apology," said Morrison.

The McLeans' attorney says they'll pursue civil action.

Meantime, the district attorney's office says they won't make a decision on filing charges against either driver or the trooper until the investigation is complete.