Maryland police chief orders more training after woman claims cop stopped her for 'walking while brown'
Aravinda Pillalamarri (WJZ)

A Maryland police chief ordered more training for his officers after one of them stopped an Indian-American woman and asked her immigration status.


Aravinda Pillalamarri, a U.S. citizen whose life story inspired the 2004 Bollywood movie "Swades," said officers stopped her while walking in her Bel Air neighborhood, reported WJZ-TV.

“I had just come out for a walk, so I didn’t have my ID, and he said, ‘Why don’t you have ID? Are you here illegally?’” Pillalamarri said.

The incident was widely reported Saturday, after Donald Trump signed an executive order barring travelers from certain majority-Muslim nations, but actually took place Dec. 21.

The police department and city officials have been deluged with outraged reactions to the incident, which was prompted after a neighbor called to report a suspicious person.

Pillalamarri believes she was targeted for "walking while brown" -- although the officer denied her accusation during the encounter.

Police Chief Charles Moore responded to the outcry on Facebook, saying the incident clearly showed his department needed additional training on immigration issues.

“The Bel Air Police Department in no manner supports bias based policing/racial profiling tactics while in the performance of our duties,” Moore said. “Our goal is to earn everyone’s respect and admiration and to keep our community safe.”

Pillalamarri initially refused to identify herself, which prompted the officer to question her immigration status and ask for identification -- which the woman was not required to provide under Maryland law.

The police chief said officers were undergoing additional training.

“It is also clear that questioning one’s immigration status isn’t the answer for relieving tension,” Moore wrote.