LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The Los Angeles Police Department is facing a lawsuit after two women say they were wrongfully targeted by officers.
"It was terrifying," Sheilanee Sen said. "It was probably the most afraid I've been in my life."
Sen, who works in community development, was helping her friend Shibani Balsaver, a film producer, move into a new home in February 2020. The pair had rented a U-Haul truck to bring Balsaver's belongings from Hollywood to Los Feliz when they were pulled over by LAPD officers.
The women, wondering what they had done, said they pulled over and parked the U-Haul in front of Balsaver's new home. But when they looked in the rearview mirror, they saw at least 10 officers with their guns drawn and heard a helicopter overhead.
"I thought I was going to get shot," Balsaver said. "I really thought that that was the end."
The women said they were ordered to get out of the U-Haul with their hands behind their heads and told to walk toward the officers backwards. That's when the women said they were slammed to the ground.
"I felt his knee in my back and on my neck and push me down into the pavement, push my face down," Balsaver said. "It was really scary."
The women said it was not until they were inside the back of the police cars that they said they were told that they had been pulled over because officers thought the U-Haul had been stolen.
Balsaver told the officer that a receipt for the U-Haul, rented earlier that morning, was in her purse. The women were later released.
Their attorney, Brian Olney, said this never should have happened and has filed a suit against LAPD, alleging the officers were using so-called high-risk procedures during a traffic stop that was not high risk and only involved an alleged non-violent property crime — something he said has been ruled unconstitutional by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal.
"Courts have made very clear, but the LAPD refuses to listen," he said. "They know what the law is, they're sworn to uphold it, but they made a deliberate decision to break it."
LAPD said in a statement that it was unable to comment on pending litigation.
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