Recently portrayed video recordings of the LAPD body show officers in the Hollywood Division were unsure whether a man they arrested outside an apartment building on Fountain Avenue was the person described in a 2019 emergency call. , which is now the subject of a civil rights lawsuit.
This guy? An officer was recorded saying that a patrol car turned around on May 24, 2019.
Probably, said the officers’ partner.
Officers had seen Antone Austin take out the trash from his apartment and, according to Austins’ lawsuit, officers assumed Austin was the wanted person in a domestic violence report.
Austin is black and the person who was called was white.
Austin began questioning the two uniformed officers who ordered him to stop, and the confrontation between him and the officers turned physical as Austin demanded an explanation and began to scream for help.
Turn around man! What is your problem? one of the two officers is heard on the recording.
Later, after Austin and his girlfriend are taken to the ground and arrested, another officer is heard on the recording grateful: “… we got the wrong guys.”
A U.S. District Court judge last Friday withdrew a protective order that had kept police video secret for months at the request of the City of Los Angeles, which claimed in court documents that allow the public to see the images, “would be contrary to LAPD Policy and may have a chilling effect on future LAPD investigations.”
The LA city attorneys office argued that the disclosure would interfere with officers’ expectation of privacy and create a risk for officers and their families.
The Court is not convinced by the defendants [City of Los Angeles] arguments and concludes that the defendant did not shoulder its onus of showing the ‘good cause’ for maintaining the confidentiality designation for the body camera images in question, the United States justice of the peace said Jacqueline Chooljian in an order dated April 2.
Two years after the incident, no charges have been laid. Eric Leonard reported on NBC4 News on Tuesday, March 9, 2021.
The defendant has failed to demonstrate that such specific harm or harm … would result from the disclosure of the body camera images at issue in this case, Judge Choolijian said.
NBC4 first reported on the Austines account and trial on March 10, when it said it was convinced the only reason he was treated the way he was – was because he was black.
“They pushed me against that door, boom!” he said, as he replayed the confrontation in an interview with the I-Team.
Austin said he was unaware at the time of the confrontation with police that one of his neighbors had called 911 to report that an ex-boyfriend was back and that she needed help. Her call was cut off before she provided a full description of the ex.
“I’m like, ‘Wait a minute, man. I live here.’ And I turn around and say, ‘Hey, man, I live here,’ Austin said, that’s when he said the officers used more force to push him into a garage door, then onto the sidewalk, where he said he was being held up and handcuffed by more officers.
Austin’s girlfriend Michelle Michlewicz said she ran to try to intervene, knowing Austin was not the subject of the police call, and said she was pushed by agents, which had caused the opening of his bathrobe. It was exposed and recorded by video cameras worn on the body of the police.
Austin and Michlewicz were arrested and detained for hours.
Austin has been charged with resisting arrest, although nearly two years after the incident neither Austin nor Michlewicz have been charged with a felony.
During an interview with Eric Leonard of the I-Team, Austin said he believed none of this would have happened if a white person had been on the sidewalk that day.
“If they thought you were the guy, I feel like they would have had a conversation with you,” Austin said.
“They weren’t immediately thinking of slapping your wrists and pushing you against a dirty garage, slamming you on the concrete,” he said.
Austin and Michlewicz lawsuit accuses LAPD officers who quit using excessive force, other officers failing to intervene to stop the arrest, violations of Unruh and Tom’s civil rights laws Bane, as well as personal injury and negligence.
“It’s a big problem, a person’s dignity is a big problem,” his lawyer Faisal Gill told the I-Team.
Gill said it was important to hold officers accountable for all instances of misconduct, almost like the popular police smashing window theory, in which petty crimes are aggressively applied in order to deter criminals low level to move on to more serious offenses.
“A person shouldn’t have to go through what they’ve had to go through just because he’s an African American man,” said Gill.
The LAPD declined to comment on the allegations as a civil lawsuit is pending.
In court documents, the LA city attorney’s office said the couple’s claim was without merit and should be dismissed. He argued that Austin and Michlewicz are themselves responsible for the force used against them, and said the police should be exonerated from any liability.
Austin and Michlewicz moved to a new home after the incident.
Austin told the I-Team he believed the confrontation with the cops might have ended very differently if he hadn’t called for help, which led to his neighbors calling the police – unaware that Austin was being held by officers on the sidewalk outside.
“I just know these are situations where people who look like me die,” Austin said.
“The neighbors who saved my life are also white people. So it’s like, you know, without them, and without saying what I would have been.
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