Officer Taisyn Crutchfield (Courtesy photo)


African American police officer Taisyn Crutchfield has filed a lawsuit against the Pasadena Police Department claiming she was subjected to racial discrimination, harassment and retaliated against for doing what many say was “the right thing.”

The rookie officer also claims that she has been denied access to her personnel files and has not been given the opportunity to respond to charges that have placed the 28-year-old officer on administrative leave since February 20, 2023.

The incident in question, which as reported by the Sentinel on June 22, 2023, involved Pasadena police detaining and handcuffing Carlos Towns, his mother Barsha Knox, and an unidentified minor.  None of the individuals detained and handcuffed were arrested.

Officer Crutchfield being placed on administrative leave is all the result of an incident that occurred in February when Crutchfield, who had just arrived on the scene, appears in police videos to attempt to move Officer Ralph Palacios away from Knox.

Palacios tells Crutchfield several times not to “do that.”  A supervising officer at the scene tells both officers to move away from each other and orders both officers back to police headquarters.

In a separate lawsuit filed by noted African American civil rights attorneys Caree Harper and Benjamin Crump, a conspiracy is alleged that “is now in the works to fire Crutchfield because of her intervention and her race.”

The Pasadena Police Department has not released the official reason why Crutchfield has been placed on administrative leave citing California State Law, which prohibits release of personnel information.

Bradley Gage, the attorney for Officer Crutchfield stated, “Crutchfield spent months on administrative leave.  She then had her probation extended. Eventually, Crutchfield was returned to work, but in retaliation for her actions, and in violation of the Peace Officers Bill of Rights, she has been denied access to her file, an opportunity to respond to any charges in her file, and even the right to see what the rationale was for keeping her on administrative leave for months.

“As such, the Peace Officer’s Bill of Rights was maliciously violated allowing for civil penalties and attorney’s fees in addition to economic and noneconomic damages and litigation costs. [Punitive damages are sought only against the individual defendants.]”

Leadership within Pasadena’s African American community is widely divided on this case and lawsuit.  Police Chief Eugene Harris, who is also African American, has a number of supporters in the African American community who believe that Harris is working diligently to clean up a department that has been plagued by allegations of corruption for several years.

Others voice support for Crutchfield and believe that this case is but one of many where African American officers are subject to the same racist treatment that has plagued the department and the city for decades.

City Public Information Officer Lisa Derderian acknowledged the City had received the claim and said, “The facts alleged about the incident are inaccurate” and referred to videos of the matter that were previously released by the City and may be seen online at


In a statement provided to Pasadena NOW and shared with the Sentinel, the City of Pasadena released the following, “The City will vigorously defend itself in this matter and the facts will prevail.”

Derderian said, “The Pasadena Police Department proudly serves the residents of Pasadena with honor and integrity and is proud of its diversity throughout all ranks of the Department.”

“The Pasadena Police Department (PPD) has a history of racial discrimination, racial profiling, disparities of punishment of African American employees and retaliation against that officer who are whistleblowers or complain about discrimination, harassment, and retaliation,” a press release from Crutchfield’s attorney said. “Crutchfield is the latest victim.”

In the lawsuit, Crutchfield claims that she was punished after stepping into a situation on Feb. 20, when additional officers were called to an argument involving the two sons of Charles Towns, a Black man who was shot and killed by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies in Altadena in January.

“Officer Taisyn Crutchfield fortunately followed state-wide police training and intervened to de-escalate the situation. Officer Crutchfield deserved a commendation for her swift and heroic action, avoiding needless violence,” the release said.

“Instead, she was relieved of duty and punished. Our lawsuit is about righting the wrong that Officer Crutchfield has suffered from.”

Pasadena Police Department released a series of videos that show the incident on Feb. 20 from inside a patrol car, where a group of officers can be seen huddled around the pair of teens as a third person looks on. Footage shows Crutchfield walking over to another officer, attempting to push him away in what she has called her attempt to de-escalate the situation.

Additional body-worn camera footage was also posted online by PPD, showing the moments where Crutchfield lightly pushes the officer, who immediately says “Don’t do that,” before the two are separated by a PPD sergeant and sent back to the station.  No arrests were made during the incident and no citizen complaints have been filed, Pasadena police said.

On Friday, Dec. 1, Crutchfield’s family, along with her attorney Brad Gage, held a press conference outside of the Pasadena Police Department.   Officer Crutchfield was not present at eh press conference and is still working and on active patrol in the city.

In response to the allegations, city of Pasadena officials said the city “will vigorously defend itself in this matter and the facts will prevail. The Pasadena Police Department proudly serves the residents of Pasadena with honor and integrity and is proud of its diversity throughout all ranks of the Department.”

Crutchfield joined the department in 2021 after receiving her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in criminology. She also competed in track and won the national championship in the 100-meter dash while also earning the honor of Miss Eugene, Oregon.


Pasadena NOW provided some of the quotes and statements of information used in this story.