After a series of instances of racial discrimination including retailers profiling African-American customers and police misconduct, the latest incident involves a complaint against the University of California, Los Angeles police.
According to the Los Angeles Times, a prominent African-American judge has filed a complaint against the university police, alleging that they used excessive force when they stopped him for not wearing a seat belt.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David S. Cunningham III, said officers handcuffed him, shoved him against his car and locked him in the back of their squad car, telling him he was resisting arrest.
The 60-year-old, who is a former Los Angeles Police Commission president, said he was leaving L.A. Fitness at about 10 a.m. Saturday when the officers pulled him over in his Mercedes. According to the complaint he filed, Cunningham said he was in the process of fastening his seat belt when he was stopped, and when he asked why he had been pulled over, the officer informed him it was because Cunningham began buckling his seat belt when he saw the authorities.
Cunningham said he showed the officer his drivers license, and when he reached into his glove compartment for his registration and insurance documents, the officer "yelled at me not to move." When he was unable to find the documents, he told officers he thought they may be in the trunk.
"When I go [sic] out of the car to search my trunk, Officer Dodd shoved me against my car, told me I was under arrest for resisting and locked me in the back seat," Cunningham wrote in the complaint, which was first reported by NBC News.
Cunningham's lawyer, Carl Douglas, said the judge began to fear for his safety and called for help.
"He lost his cool," Douglas said. "He began yelling about police brutality and about being a 60-year-old man slapped in handcuffs in the back of a patrol car for not wearing a seat belt. A crowd was gathering and he demanded they call a watch commander."
After 10 minutes, a UCLA police sergeant arrived at the scene and Cunningham was released. UCLA police provided limited information about the incident, reporting Cunningham was stopped at 10:05 a.m., "temporarily handcuffed during the course of a traffic stop," was cited with failing to wear a seat belt and released.
The UCLA police issued the below statement on Monday:
During the course of the traffic stop, police officers instructed the driver to stay inside the vehicle and returned to their patrol car to run a routine license and registration check. Despite these instructions, the driver left the vehicle — an escalating behavior that can place officers at risk.
The driver stood in the roadway and refused instructions to get back in his car. As a result, the driver was temporarily handcuffed. He was released at the scene shortly thereafter with a citation for failing to wear a seatbelt.
The statement goes on to say that authorities are conducting an internal investigation and reviewing video from the police video.
Although Cunningham's complaint does not attribute his experience to his race, his attorney said it clearly played a factor in the officers' behavior.
"Do you think this would have happened if he was a white judge?"