UCLA Police Contend Judge Claiming Excessive Force Was Uncooperative

Authorities say the judge created a potentially dangerous situation when he refused to get back in his car

By Patrick Healy and Andrew Lopez
|  Monday, Nov 25, 2013  |  Updated 11:31 PM PDT
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A Los Angeles Superior Court Judge who claims he was roughed up by UCLA police Saturday was handcuffed after disobeying instructions to stay in his car while officers ran a license and registration check, campus police said. Patrick Healy reports from Westwood for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Nov. 25, 2013.

Patrick Healy

A Los Angeles Superior Court Judge who claims he was roughed up by UCLA police Saturday was handcuffed after disobeying instructions to stay in his car while officers ran a license and registration check, campus police said. Patrick Healy reports from Westwood for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Nov. 25, 2013.

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A Los Angeles Superior Court Judge who claims he was roughed up by UCLA police Saturday was handcuffed after disobeying instructions to stay in his car while officers ran a license and registration check, campus police said.

David S. Cunningham III, who was appointed to the Los Angeles County bench in 2009 by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, wrote in a department complaint form that he was “shoved” against a police car and told he was under arrest.  A short while later, after a police sergeant arrived, Cunningham was released with a citation for driving without his seat belt buckled. 

A statement released Monday by the police department said Cunningham refused to comply with officer instructions to get back in his car after he entered the roadway.

“Despite these instructions, the driver left the vehicle - an escalating behavior that can place officers at risk,” the statement said.

The traffic stop occurred near UCLA in Westwood Village, on Gayley Avenue outside a Whole Foods market.

A shopkeeper who said she saw the incident from across the street recalled hearing officers warn the driver to get back in his Mercedes Benz.

“The police were yelling at him to get back in his car,” said Susan Leahy. “And he’s yelling, ‘What have I done?’”

She described the scene as a "shouting match."

Leahy said officers then forced Cunningham’s hands behind his back and handcuffed him.

Cunningham’s attorney Carl Douglas acknowledged the officers had told his client not to leave his car, but maintains police "over-reacted" and had insufficient cause to handcuff Cunningham and lock him in the back of a patrol car.

The officers had displayed a negative and accusatory attitude from the beginning of the traffic stop, Douglas said.

Campus police are reviewing video footage “routinely filmed from the police vehicle,” but it has not been made public.

Cunningham was the former president of the Los Angeles Police Commission, the civilian board that oversees the LAPD.

He is taking time off to visit family during Thanksgiving week, Douglas said.

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