LA Producer Describes Ordeal of Mistaken ID Arrest in Beverly Hills

Charles Belk was about to attend an Emmy pre-party before he wound up in a jail cell

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A Los Angeles producers talks of wrongfully being held in custody for hours after Beverly Hills police said he matched the description of a wanted black man. Gadi Schwartz reports from Beverly Hills for the NBC4 News at 11 on Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. (Published Wednesday, Aug 27, 2014)

    A Los Angeles film and television producer said he was on the “brink of tears” during a six-hour ordeal locked in a Beverly Hills jail cell in a case of mistaken identity.

    Charles Belk was held after police said he matched the description of a man — tall, bald, and black — who was an accomplice to the “Purse Packing Bandit” bank robber who had just struck on Wilshire Boulevard.

    Belk had been out to dinner when he went out to feed the meter on La Cienega Boulevard when an officer detained him and he was cuffed on the curb.

    The arrest kept him from attending an Emmy pre-party set for later that evening, he wrote on Facebook

    "I'm starting to get really embarrassed," Belk told NBC4 of the moment of his arrest. "Keeping my head down, because you know, I knew I was innocent but they wouldn’t know I was innocent."

    Belk was next taken to the Beverly Hills Police station to be fingerprinted and booked into a cell.

    “I had no idea why I was locked up,” Belk said in an interview with NBC4. “I had no idea what I was being charged for. I had no idea if anyone knew I was at this Beverly Hills Police station. I didn’t know anything.”

    Belk said he believes he would have remained locked up if it hadn’t been for friends who called a lawyer.

    "If I did not have a friend there that saw me and that friend wouldn’t have called my friend who works at the NAACP and she wouldn’t have called an attorney, I am convinced that I would be still be locked up," Belk said.

    Belk questioned the police process that he said didn’t allow him to call for his attorney, didn’t read him his Miranda rights, and delayed an attorney who he found out later had been trying to see him for an hour that day.

    He said he almost broke down during questioning when he found out none of the detectives had checked the surveillance video.

    "I put my head down. I'm like, 'I'm not gonna cry in front of these people.' But I was on the brink of tears," Belk said. "It was because I couldn’t believe that they had taken six hours of my time for something I felt was readily accessible an easily verifiable."

    In a press release, Beverly Hills police said they properly detained him after they said a witness positively identified him as the accomplice and he was near the bank when he was detained.

    But after following up, police said he had nothing to do with the robbery and he was released from custody.

    “The Beverly Hills Police Department deeply regrets the inconvenience to Mr. Belk and has reached out to him to express those regrets and further explain the circumstances,” Beverly Hills Police Sgt. Max Subin, a department spokesman, said in a statement.

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