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Lawsuit Claims Beverly Hills Police Officers Racially Profiling Minorities

BEVERLY HILLS (CBSLA) — A new lawsuit against the City of Beverly Hills claims that the police officers are racially profiling minorities.

Fashion executive Salehe Bembury is a part of a class-action lawsuit accusing the city of racial profiling. Bembury said he was stopped by officers for allegedly jaywalking and harassed because he's Black.

BHills Racial Profile Lawsuit
Sahele Bembury's video of Beverly Hills Police Officers stopping him for allegedly jaywalking went viral.

When his video went viral, Beverly Hills Police immediately posted the officer's body-cam video to show what they say is an officer following procedure. The video shows the officer asking for Bembury's identification and then asking for permission to check him for weapons.

Civil Rights attorney Ben Crump, who represented the family of George Floyd, said that Beverly Hills targeted people of color via a task force dubbed "Operation Safe Street and Rodeo Drive Task Force."

"The City of Beverly Hills Police Department has been in hot water for a long time," said constitutional rights attorney Alexandria Kazarian.

According to the suit, the most recent department numbers show the task force arrested 106 people, with 105 of those being African American and one Latino.

"I mean, that's just inexcusable," said Kazarian. "There's absolutely no way that the city of Beverly Hills is going to be able to argue that there was some kind fo non-racially motivated basis for those arrests."

The lawsuit alleges that people were stopped for offenses like rollerskating, riding a scooter and jaywalking. It goes on to say that a number of those incidents resulted in no charges for lack of cause and evidence.

"They're all very minor issues and if they are just targeting people who are doing those kinds of things on the sidewalk, there should be a wide range of people that are being targeted," Kazarian said.

In a statement, Beverly Hills Police Chief Dominick Rivetti said a Rodeo Drive Team was created to respond to a significant increase in calls for service in its business community during the pandemic and following months of civil unrest. The newly created team recovered 13 loaded firearms from people on Rodeo Drive in just five weeks, which Rivetti said was unprecedented in the history of Beverly Hills. The department also discovered widespread fraudulent use of California unemployment benefits, recovering over a quarter-million in cash and fraudulent EDD cards with a potential value of $3 million.

"The men and women of BHPD take an oath to protect human life and enforce the law -- regardless of race," Rivetti's statement said in part. "Any violation of this pledge is contrary to the values of this department. We take all concerns regarding the conduct of our officers very seriously."

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