Video of highway stop involving LGBTQ leaders provokes questions

LGBTQ Philadelphia trooper
Celena Morrison-McLean, executive director of the city’s Office of LGBT Affairs, speaks at a news conference last year.
Jack Tomczuk / Metro File Photo

Video of a confrontation between a state trooper and two prominent local LGBTQ leaders spread on social media over the weekend, sparking questions about the officer’s conduct and whether the couple should face charges.

The exchange occurred after a trooper stopped Celena Morrison, 51, executive director of the city’s Office of LGBT Affairs, just after 9 a.m. Saturday on I-76 West near the Vine Street Expressway, according to an incident report provided by state police.

Police said another car, apparently driven by Morrison’s husband, 35-year-old Darius McLean, pulled up behind the cruiser. McLean, the state police account says, became “verbally combative,” refused the trooper’s orders and resisted arrest.

The clip seems to have been shot from Morrison’s cellphone, and, when it begins, McLean is on the ground being restrained by the trooper as rain falls on the pavement.

Multiple times, Morrison tells the trooper, “I work for the mayor,” and, at one point, he responds “shut the f— up.” Then, the video shows McLean saying, “It’s because I’m Black,” and the officer retorting, “It’s not because you’re Black.”

The trooper then leaves McLean on the ground and walks toward Morrison, appearing to lunge at her. At that point, the phone drops to the ground and only audio is captured.

Morrison, in the clip, accuses the trooper of punching her and pulling a gun, though neither action is shown in the video. McLean tells Morrison that he did not want her getting pulled over.

“This was a simple traffic stop because you didn’t have your lights on,” the trooper tells Morrison. “You didn’t have your lights on, and you were tailgating.”

State police, in a statement, said Morrison and McLean were arrested for resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, and obstruction of justice.

The District Attorney’s Office did not respond to a request for comment Sunday; however, in a statement to other media outlets, a spokesperson said the office “has made no charging decisions pending a thorough, even-handed investigation.”

Morrison has served as head of the city’s LGBT office since 2020, when she became the first transgender person to lead a municipal department or agency. She previously worked for the William Way LGBT Community Center and the Mazzoni Center and has served as a grand marshal for the city’s Pride parade. McLean is William Way’s current chief operating officer.

“A video circulating on social media that depicts a portion of the incident is very concerning to me, and I will have no further comment until the investigation has been completed,” Mayor Cherelle Parker posted Saturday on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Parker’s administration declined to comment further when contacted Sunday.

Rue Landau, who became the first openly LGBT City Council member when she took office in January, said in a statement that “the footage is alarming,” and she pledged to work with the city and state “to ensure transparency and to investigate further.”