A lawsuit accuses Beverly Hills police of racially profiling nearly 1,100 Black people during traffic stops.
The suit announced Monday was filed on behalf of most of the Black drivers who were pulled over in the wealthy city between August 2019 and August 2021.
Out of a total of 1,088 Black motorists stopped, only two were convicted of crimes, attorney Benjamin Crump said at a news conference.
About a third of all arrests made during the period involved Blacks, who make up only 1.5% of the city’s population, Crump said.
“It wasn’t to deter crime. It was to send a message to Black people that we don’t want your kind around here,” Crump said. “That is racial profiling 101!”
The city denied the allegations, saying in a statement, “The statistics presented referencing the number of convictions is a mischaracterization of the evidence in this case. In addition, the 1,088 arrests referenced includes people cited and released, not just custodial arrests.”
“The City of Beverly Hills is an international destination that always welcomes visitors from across the country and around the world,” it said. “The role of the Beverly Hills Police Department is to enforce the law, regardless of race.”
The suit seeks $500 million in damages.
Law clerk Shepherd York was one of the people who were pulled over, for having expired license plates as he was driving to work, attorneys said.
“I spent three days in jail,” York said at the news conference. “Humiliated, scared, sad.”
His car was searched and impounded, but he was never convicted of a crime, attorneys said.