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An Alabama police officer was disciplined after he arrested a woman for refusing to show her ID

Twyla Stallworth was home when Andalusia Officer John Barton arrived in response to a noise dispute she was having with her neighbors.

A police officer in Alabama has been disciplined after he arrested a woman at her home because she refused to show him her identification.

City leaders have condemned the arrest of Twyla Stallworth, 40, in February and ordered the entire Andalusia Police Department to receive additional training in city ordinances and constitutional and state law.

Stallworth had called police to her home on Feb. 23 on a noise complaint, she said, because a neighbor was playing music too loudly. The music stopped when police visited the neighbor's house but resumed after they left, Stallworth said.

Twyla Stallworth
Twyla Stallworth.Twyla Stallworth

She then went out to her car and purposely turned on the alarm to draw her neighbor's attention, she said. Then another neighbor began playing music loudly, and police soon arrived at Stallworth's home.

Cellphone video shot by Stallworth's son, Jermani Marshall, 18, and released by her attorney, Harry Daniels, shows Andalusia Police Officer John G. Barton standing at Stallworth’s doorstep asking for her identification.

“Ma’am, I’m not arguing with you. Provide ID or go to jail,” Barton says in the video.

She said she refused because she did not believe she had to provide identification.

Alabama law allows a police officer who reasonably suspects a crime is being committed to ask for people's names and addresses and explanations of their actions, but it does not say anything about showing identification, such as driver's licenses or passports. 

“I’m going to jail? For not providing my ID?” Stallworth responds in the video.

Then Barton orders Stallworth to put her hands behind her back because he is placing her under arrest, the video shows.

Instead, Stallworth walks inside her home. Barton follows, along with Marshall, who can be heard in the background telling his mother that everything is OK and that he is recording the encounter with his cellphone.

After a brief exchange, Barton warns Stallworth it is her last chance to show her ID. Then he shoves her down onto her couch and handcuffs her, the video shows.

She was charged with resisting arrest, obstruction of governmental operations and attempting to elude police, according to court documents.

In a video posted on the city's website, Mayor Earl Johnson condemned Stallworth’s arrest and said the police department would undergo the additional training.

“All charges against Ms. Stallworth are being dropped,” Johnson said in the video. “The arresting officer has a clean record with our department, but he made a mistake. He has been disciplined for failing in his duty to know the law.”

Jermani Marshall, 18, the son of Twyla Stallworth, who captured the cell phone video of the arrest.
Twyla Stallworth’s son, Jermani Marshall, 18, who captured the cellphone video of the arrest.Courtesy Twyla Stallworth

He did not say how Barton was disciplined and could not be reached Monday for comment.

Police Chief Paul Hudson declined to comment by phone Monday. He said in an emailed statement that Barton “was given a reprimand” but was not suspended.

Requests for a copy of Stallworth’s arrest report were largely unsuccessful. Hudson provided only the first page, which did not include details of the encounter between Barton and Stallworth.

Under Alabama law, police departments have broad authority to withhold arrest reports.

Stallworth, who is Black, said she believes her arrest may have been racially motivated because both of her neighbors involved in the dispute, who are white, were not arrested.

"My power was taken from me. I wasn’t able to fight back,” Stallworth said. “I wasn’t able to protect my son. I felt powerless. Nobody should be treated this way.”

Johnson said the city found no evidence of discrimination.

“We have reviewed bodycam footage of the incident and see no evidence of racism,” Johnson said in the video.

Stallworth, a real estate agent who grew up in Andalusia, about 90 miles south of Montgomery, said she spent 15 hours in jail before her mother came up with more than $3,000 in cash to bond her out.

Stallworth said she has been complaining about her neighbors’ playing loud music for the past two years. 

Daniels said: “She was manhandled and slammed on the couch. She wasn’t required to show identification. It was an unlawful arrest.”

He said Stallworth is considering whether to sue the city and its police department.