2127 8 days ago
2127 8 days ago
A federal judge has unsealed Los Angeles Police Department body camera video showing an incident where a Black man who alleges he was racially profiled by officers was arrested in Hollywood, according to documents obtained today.
Antone Austin, 42, claims he was taking in his trash cans at his apartment on May 24, 2019, when two Los Angeles Police Department officers suddenly pulled up and ordered him to turn around.
Without explanation, the officers -- responding to reports of a domestic violence incident in which the suspect was the white boyfriend of a neighbor -- immediately attempted to handcuff a struggling Austin and became upset with him when he didn't comply, according to a federal lawsuit filed against the city of Los Angeles one year ago.
As Austin was being detained, his girlfriend came running out of the apartment and was also arrested without cause, the plaintiffs allege. Both Austin and the woman were held in jail for hours, paying a total of $57,000 in bail, according to the suit.
The 11-minute video, which was made public on Friday by U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Chooljian as part of the lawsuit, shows the man and woman being physically detained by LAPD officers as the couple proclaim Austin's innocence.
The footage begins with the officers unsure that Austin -- a music producer who goes by the name Tone Stackz -- is the person they are looking for.
As the patrol car passes Austin and then turns back, one officer asks, “This dude?'' and his partner responds, “Probably.''
Jasmyne Cannick, the couple's media representative, said Austin was initially charged with resisting arrest and assault on a police officer, but the assault charge was eventually dropped.
His 30-year-old girlfriend, Michelle Michlewicz, was charged with interfering in the arrest, a charge carrying a prison sentence of up to four years.
The status of the charges was not immediately available Wednesday. An LAPD spokesman said that according to policy, the department does not comment on pending litigation.
In court filings, the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office argue that the couple's claim is without merit and should be dismissed, and that Austin and his girlfriend are to blame for the incident. Attorneys for the city also allege that the two LAPD officers are immune from liability.
The lawsuit is set for jury trial in October in downtown Los Angeles.
The couple's attorney, Faisal Gill, said the officers didn't know who they were looking for when they arrived at the scene in response to a domestic disturbance call involving the white neighbor.
“It was racial profiling,'' Gill alleged. “No question about it and to add injury to insult they arrest my clients, put them in jail ... Even the woman who called 911 tried to tell the officers that they had the wrong person.''
Cannick said that “just because someone didn't die, it's still serious. Here we voted for body cameras, and they're fighting to keep them secret.''