LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Comments from a Clark County judge during a probation hearing are drawing attention. Some are calling for her to resign, while others say there's more context to the judge's comments.
These are the words from Eighth Judicial District Court Judge Erika Ballou that sparked controversy.
"You're a Black man in America. 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."
Talking to a defendant during a probation revocation hearing this month. Those remarks are now under fire.
"It's unprofessional. She absolutely overstepped her bounds."
Steve Grammas, president of the Las Vegas Police Protective Association found Judge Ballou's remarks both offensive and disgraceful with his union calling for her resignation.
"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,” Grammas said.
He feels the judge can no longer be seen as impartial to police officers.
"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,” he said.
UNLV assistant professor of African American Studies Dr. Tyler Parry sees the remarks in a different light.
"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,” he said.
Dr. Parry says that Judge Ballou's empathy is evident and argues she was trying to relate to the defendant, but by revoking his parole, Judge Ballou still held him accountable. The defendant was charged with battery on an officer.
"She has to push back and say look I understand why you're afraid of police. I'm afraid of the police too but what you did was wrong."
Dr. Parry disagrees with the police union’s view that the judge is not impartial.
"She does revoke his probation. She enforces the law as it's written,” he said.
We reached out to Judge Ballou who released this statement:
"I support 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."
Grammas calls her statement "pathetic".
"She's trying to backpedal now and trying to clear it up and it's not enough. We know how she feels and now Clark County knows how she feels,” he said.
The LVPPA says they plan to file a complaint with the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline in the coming weeks. The commission says it is aware of reports about Judge Ballou and will look at the complaints if they’re filed.