A Black judge with jurisdiction over Clark County, and notably its Las Vegas strip, is being targeted by a local police union for advising a Black suspect before her for a probation hearing to use caution with police.
"You're a Black man in America,” 8th Judicial District Court Judge Erika Ballou told the defendant. “You know you don't want to be nowhere where cops are. You know you don't want to be nowhere where cops are cause I know I don't, and I'm a middle-aged, middle-class Black woman. I don't want to be around where the cops are because I don't know if I'm going to walk away alive or not."
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However, Steve Grammas, president of the Las Vegas Police Protective Association, is joining other Republicans in the state in calling for the judge's resignation, according to ABC-affiliated KTNV Las Vegas.
"The officer knows that the judge's preconceived notion of the police is and it's very problematic and that's why we asked for her to step down,” Grammas said.
He also made a claim that white people have the privilege of being ignorant enough to make it in this country: "Once you're on the bench, you've got a job to do, and justice is blind, and you're supposed to act in that way.”
The police union wrote in a Facebook post on Thursday that the judge has “disgraced the robe she wears and dishonored her profession.”
”We will fight to honor our profession and the men and women who leave their house every day to protect the citizens in our community. Her comments are disgusting and she should resign,” the police union said.
The union also asked the Judicial Ethics Commission to sanction Ballou.
While police can pretend not to see color, their actions suggest otherwise. They have been accused so frequently of more harshly policing Black and brown communities that entire reporting positions are now dedicated to covering their brutality in the aftermath of a white cop kneeling on the neck of Black father George Floyd for more than nine minutes while witnesses recorded.
Ballou, who was elected to office and isn’t up for reelection until 2027, said in a statement KTNV obtained that she supports “proper law enforcement.”
“What the record shows, is that I communicate with those who appear before me in a manner that is straightforward and understandable," she said.
Ballou ultimately determined the defendant she was speaking to had violated his probation and she revoked it, also reducing his sentence originally ranging from 24 to 60 months, CBS-affiliated 8 News Now reported. His sentence now ranges from 19 to 48 months.
Dr. Tyler Parry, who teaches Black studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, described criticism of Ballou as overblown in an interview with KTNV. "It just seemed to me to be a judge who was trying to be empathetic and trying to offer some advice for future interactions with officers,” the assistant professor said.