BLM Members Sue LAPD Over Alleged Violent Tactics During Traffic Stops

The LAPD is being accused of targeting Black motorists.

Members of Black Lives Matter and the Community Coalition of South Los Angeles have filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles Police Department for officers allegedly deploying violent tactics during traffic stops of suspected stolen vehicles, CBS News reports.

At a news conference held outside the headquarters of the LAPD, both organizations said that the lawsuit exposes the long history of racial violence by the department.

Rebbeca Brown, an attorney with the law firm Hadsell Stormer Renick & Dai,  said that the purpose of the lawsuit is to “put an end to the department's unconstitutional policy of conducting violent and traumatic traffic stops” that stems from intel found on “ police databases that suggest a vehicle might be stolen.”

"Not only are these stops dangerous and ineffective for public safety, they're also illegal," Brown said, according to local station KABC.

Sheilanne "Shona" Sen and Shibani Balsaver who are plaintiffs in the suit, shared the traumatic encounter with the LAPD in February 2020  when 10 officers pulled their weapons on them, pinned them to the ground after “mistaking their U-Haul truck for a stolen vehicle outside her new residence in Los Feliz.”

"Four years ago, I was stopped by LAPD because they mistakenly thought my car was stolen," Sen said. "... I wasn't given a chance to explain myself or get clarity on what was happening."

 "I was sure I was going to die,” she continued.

Per the latest statistics, the majority of cars that have stopped were not vehicles that have been stolen.

"According to LAPD's own statistics, approximately three-quarters of these suspected stolen vehicle stops are in fact not stolen," Brown alleged.

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Brown also noted that in 2014, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the LAPD's tactics were in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution.

In a statement on Tuesday (Dec 19), Chief Michel Moore noted that the department was aware of the lawsuit and will give further details on the matter at a later date.

"As this is a matter of ongoing litigation, we will respond to these allegations in the appropriate setting,” Moore said.

Moore also defended the department's practices saying they are "constitutional and represent efforts to protect the safety of everyone involved."

Sen said that she hopes the suit will help to hold law enforcement officers accountable and that their policies be changed.

"I was treated as less than human that day. I was made to feel that my life had no value," Sen explained. "I am sharing my story today because this horrible, damaging policy must go so that no other Angelenos has to endure that terrifying experience."

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