The story of an Indiana family suing the Hammond police department for a traffic stop in September that ended with the officers breaking a passenger window and tasing African-American Jamal Jones became personal for CNN legal analyst Sonny Hostin on Tuesday. Hostin challenged the claims of her colleague, Paul Callan, when Callan attempted to claim that the abuses of power didn’t have a racial component.
CNN’s Susan Candiotti opened the report with the story of Jamal Jones, noting that the whole thing started because he wouldn’t produce an ID for the police. While Callan said that the police mishandled the case, he was confident the city would prevail, noting that:
The cops screwed up here, there are kids in the back seat, they should have handled it differently. But the law, I think, will back them… Because you have an obligation to produce identification. If they tell you get out of the car, get out of the car.
Meanwhile, Hostin quietly seethed on the panel.
Host Ashleigh Banfield invited Sonny into the discussion, asking her whether or not she had the right to avoid being pulled over and continue driving to a populated area during the night. She asked if it was “the same kind of fear.”
Hostin agreed, adding that:
And I’ve got to tell you I’m so upset. I think actually Paul is correct [about his prediction], but this is the hazard of being a black person in the United States today! I mean, there’s a family in a car and they are completely complying. You see that [the mother] has called 911. He isn’t even driving the vehicle. He has provided several pieces of paper as identification.
This family was tortured for over 13 minutes. Those children were traumatized. And guess what? The law as it stands right now probably protects the police officers’ actions.
And as a woman of color, I don’t know what to do! Because this could happen to me, this could happen to my child, this could happen to my father, this could happen to my husband. What do we do about the inherent racism over and over and over again in these United States during these traffic stops!
Callan contested her claims that it was race-based, saying that there was no evidence to support them. Callan contended that if it’d been a white family, it still would’ve happened. Hostin fired back, telling Callan to “give me a break” and that if it were a white family, it “would not have happened.”
When Callan told her that she had no idea if it would or wouldn’t, Hostin returned with “I do have an idea, because I live in the United States and I’m the person I am.” She maintained that not everything is a race issue, but “this is” and “if you [Callan] were with your family in your car, this would not have happened. Period.”
You can watch the footage below: