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Wednesday, December 6, 2023
Courthouse News Service
Wednesday, December 6, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Officer Says Duke VP Struck Her With Porsche

(CN) - A North Carolina traffic control officer claims in court that Duke University Executive Vice President Tallman Trask struck her with his Porsche and then sweared at her using a racial slur during a 2014 Duke football game.

In a complaint filed in the Durham County Superior Court, Officer Shelvia Underwood claims the incident occurred after Trask attempted to drive onto a closed road on Duke's campus without showing his parking pass.

Underwood, who was working a West Campus roadblock for her employer, McLaurin Parking, says she did not recognize Trask, and stopped him to verify that he had a parking pass, but that he drove his car into her before she could address him.

Underwood claims that after a short argument, Trask showed two parking permits and angrily yelled, "dumb, stupid, dumb, stupid n*****," as he sped away.

An emergency room doctor diagnosed Underwood with a contusion and possible fractured elbow. She filed an official report with the Duke University Police Department , who she says urged her to drop the matter if Trask apologized in a sincere and legitimate manner, the March 14 complaint says.

Underwood says she reluctantly agreed.

Days later, Duke University President of Administration Kyle Cavanaugh delivered Underwood a handwritten note from Trask, his direct supervisor.

She says the note read "I very much regret the incident before the Elon Football game. I should have been more patient and I apologize. Tallman Trask."

In her complaint Underwood says she found the apology insincere and impersonal.

She claims Trask and Duke committed engaged in obstruction of justice and a civil conspiracy through "a common scheme to protect Defendant Trask's position as Executive Vice President of Duke University, the pecuniary interests of Defendant Duke University, as well as the public image of Defendant Duke University."

Underwood is seeking unspecified damages for battery and negligence.

She is represented by Donald Huggins and James Hairston of Hairston Lane P.A. in Raleigh, N.C.

Trask told the Duke Chronicle, a student newspaper, acknowledged that he did hit Underwood with his car, but said it was unintentional. He also denied using the racial slur.

A Duke spokesman said the university does not comment on pending litigation.

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