Employee Alleges UCLA Police Targeted Him Because He's Black - NBC Southern California

Employee Alleges UCLA Police Targeted Him Because He's Black

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    Employee Alleges UCLA Police Targeted Him Because He's Black

    A UCLA facilities employee arrested in 2014 by campus police is suing the department and the University of California Board of Regents, alleging that he was targeted because he is black.

    Claudius Gaines' lawsuit, which alleges civil rights violations, also names as defendants Officer Brandon Young, who is white, and Officer Fabiola Leon, whose ethnicity is not mentioned in the complaint.

    The suit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Tuesday additionally alleges assault and battery, false imprisonment and negligence. Gaines is seeking unspecified damages.

    "This lawsuit concerns the ominous subject of racial profiling being committed by members of the UCLA (campus police) against members of the African- American community who happen to travel around the Westwood campus," the lawsuit states.

    UCLA issued a statement saying the university "strongly disputes the allegations made in the lawsuit and will vigorously defend itself in the course of the litigation. The University of California Police Department seeks to ensure that its police officers apply the law equally to all persons. All officers receive ongoing training to recognize implicit bias and to prevent racial profiling in carrying out their law enforcement duties," the statement says.

    A Los Angeles Superior Court judge, David Cunningham, was himself a previous victim of racial profiling by UCLA police, prompting the department to retrain every member of its staff on the problem and pay $500,000, according to a claim filed and settled on the judge's behalf by attorney Carl Douglas, who also represents Gaines.

    "The UCLA Police Department has had a troubling history of racially profiling minority motorists who are driving off-campus through the streets of Westwood," Douglas said in a statement.

    According to Gaines' lawsuit, he was leaving work between 11:30 a.m. and midnight Aug. 27, 2014, to drive his truck to his Inglewood home when he was stopped near the UCLA campus. Young was driving the police car, the suit states.

    "Mr. Gaines ... believes that Young pulled him over (even) though he had not broken any law or public offense, but because he looked like he didn't belong in that neighborhood," the suit says.

    After being told to produce his driver's license and registration, Gaines put both hands on the steering wheel, according to his suit, which says one of the officers then grabbed Gaines by his arm and ordered him out of the truck. He was arrested for allegedly resisting, delaying or obstructing a police officer.

    "Claudius Gaines did nothing to justify this use of unreasonable force or false imprisonment against him," the suit says.

    The suit alleges Young and Leon were not properly trained by the department to avoid racial profiling, as well as excessive force and false imprisonment against motorists with whom they interact.

    According to UCLA's statement, the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office filed misdemeanor obstruction of a police officer and resisting arrest charges against Gaines.

    A jury failed to reach a verdict in the case on Nov. 4, according to the university.

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