Los Angeles police officers detained a Hollywood-area Black man while responding to a 911 call concerning a domestic violence dispute. Officers went after 42-year-old Antone Austin last May near his Hollywood apartment complex while searching for a white suspect. Now, they are being slapped with a racial profiling lawsuit, WPVI-TV reported.
Austin was taking out his trash when officers confronted him, ordering him to turn around. Captured body camera footage shows the officers discussing whether or not Austin was the appropriate suspect. “Is this the dude?” one of the officers asked in the newly released body camera footage.
Their partner nonchalantly replied, “Probably.”
When approached by the Los Angeles police officers, Austin tried to defuse the situation, informing them that he was a nearby resident. Still, the officers maintained their aggression and even admitted to not being sure about their suspect’s description. In the body camera footage, one officer is heard telling Austin to turn around “because I told you to.”
“We got a call, okay, man. I don’t know who I’m looking for yet,” one of the unnamed officers stated. “Turn around, man! What is your problem?”
The person who initially contacted 911 dispatchers also tried to de-escalate the altercation, informing officers that they had the wrong guy, but to no avail. Austin’s girlfriend, who heard the commotion while showering, rushed outside to intervene and reason with the officers. She was allegedly “disrobed” in the process and was also arrested by the officers.
Though both of their charges were later dropped, Austin and his girlfriend were still shaken by everything. They were both invited to Good Morning America Thursday to discuss the ordeal, which Austin believes to be a clear example of racial profiling.
“In your mind, you wanna say to yourself, ‘Oh, this thing happened because I’m black.’ But you don’t wanna be that petty…You don’t wanna believe that people’s thinking is really that small,” he told Good Morning America. “It’s crazy that they can just convict you, and they’re supposed to be here as mediators…”
Austin’s racial profiling lawsuit will begin this October.