DOVER, Del. (CBS) — Delaware Attorney General Kathleen Jennings says she is “deeply troubled” over the traffic stop incident that Delaware State University’s women’s lacrosse team encountered while in Georgia last month. In a statement released Wednesday, Jennings said she’s spoken with the U.S. Department of Justice and the attorney general in Georgia.
She is also urging for a full examination of the incident.
“Like so many others, I’m deeply troubled by the actions that our Delaware State University Women’s Lacrosse team and staff endured in Georgia this past April. I want to commend these outstanding young women for their valor, and my fellow Delawareans for rallying around them.
Over the last few days, I’ve spoken with those affected at Delaware State, as well as the authorities in a position to investigate these events. Following discussions with both the U.S. Department of Justice and the Georgia Attorney General, I sent the attached letter urging a full examination and I have every reason to believe one will occur.”
Video from a traffic stop involving Delaware State University’s lacrosse team is sparking outrage. Georgia police searched their bus and luggage for drugs in what the university called a “humiliating process.”
The incident took place on Wednesday, April 20, as Delaware State’s women’s lacrosse team traveled home on a charter bus after playing three games in Georgia and Florida.
Delaware State University is one of the country’s historically Black colleges and universities. Most of the coaches and players on the bus were Black, along with the bus driver.
On Tuesday, the Liberty County sheriff said his deputies did not know the students’ race when they stopped the bus for traveling in the wrong lane.
“This is the same protocol that is expected to be used no matter the race, gender, age or destination of the passenger. No personal items on the bus or persons were searched. I welcome feedback from our community on ways law enforcement practices can be improved,” Sheriff William Bowman said.
Delaware State University President Tony Allen released the following statement Wednesday in response to Bowman’s comments.
“I spoke with Sheriff William Bowman of Liberty County on Tuesday and note his acknowledgment to me and at his press event of the historic concerns of African Americans in traffic stops with law enforcement. He even indicated an interest in reaching out to our lacrosse team for feedback to assist his department in improving its approach to people of color. I look forward to hearing from him exactly how he would like to proceed in that regard.”
“However, his public statement and the released body camera footage raise more questions than answers.”
“Sheriff Bowman insists that personal items were not searched; the video clearly shows officers searching toiletries and clothes, and even cutting open a family graduation gift. Sheriff Bowman said the officers were unaware of the nature of the passengers on the bus; the audio clearly demonstrates that the officers were aware both that this was a busload of ‘schoolgirls,’ and that they did not expect to find anything other than marijuana, which the officer who entered the bus said they were not looking for.”
“It has become abundantly more clear that this incident must be investigated by objective, external authorities. We continue to push forward toward that objective.”
Delaware State University says it is conducting its own investigation into what happened.