Black filmmakers say they were swarmed by police after checking out of Airbnb

RIALTO, Calif. -- A group of filmmakers says they were swarmed by a squad of cop cars after leaving an Airbnb rental in Rialto. The filmmakers, three of whom are black, say they were racially profiled during the April 30 incident, CBS Los Angeles reports.

Police say a neighbor identified a group of people taking suitcases from the home and loading them into a car. The woman who called the police said she did not recognize the car or the group of people.

Airbnb host Marie Rodriguez said her neighbor called police because she didn't know the home had been rented.

Donisha Prendergast, who is one of reggae legend Bob Marley's granddaughters, had been staying at the Airbnb while attending a music festival in San Bernardino. Prendergast posted a video of the group's encounter with police on Instagram last Monday and claims she and her friends were racially profiled.  

"We were surrounded by 7 cop cars. The officers came out of their cars demanding us to put our hands in the air," reads a Facebook post written by film director Kells Fyffe-Marshall, one of the parties involved. "They informed us that there was also a helicopter tracking us. They locked down the neighborhood and had us standing in the street."

STORY TIME: During our time in Cali we have been staying at an Airbnb. The 30th was our second morning and at about 11am we checked out. The four of us packed our bags, locked up the house and left. As you can see 3 of us were Black. About 10 seconds later we were surrounded by 7 cop cars. The officers came out of their cars demanding us to put our hands in the air. They informed us that there was also a helicopter tracking us. They locked down the neighborhood and had us standing in the street. Why? A neighbour across the street saw 3 black people packing luggage into their car and assumed we were stealing from the house. She then called the police. At first we joked about the misunderstanding and took photos and videos along the way. About 20 minutes into this misunderstanding it escalated almost instantly. Their Sergeant arrived... he explained they didn’t know what Airbnb was. He insisted that we were lying about it and said we had to prove it. We showed them the booking confirmations and phoned the landlord... because they didn’t know what she looked like on the other end to confirm it was her.. they detained us - because they were investigating a felony charge - for 45 minutes while they figured it out. We have been dealing with different emotions and you want to laugh about this but it’s not funny. The trauma is real. I've been angry, fustrated and sad. I was later detained at the airport. This is insanity. The cops admit that the woman’s reason for calling the police was because we didn’t WAVE to her as she looked at us putting our luggage into our car from her lawn. #wedidntwave #arighttoberight #racialprofiling privilege #rightourstories #therevolution #whenyoupulloverfilmmakers @directedbykells @iamdonisha @komiolaf @ahutchphoto Nisha Rebel Ashlee Hutchinson

Posted by Kells Fyffe-Marshall on Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Rodriguez told CBS Los Angeles there have been some property crimes in the neighborhood so she understands why her neighbor was cautious. She says she tried to apologize to Prendergast and was disappointed to see her social media posts claiming the incident had to do with race.

"They're latching on to this whole racism thing, because they're black," Rodriguez said. "This is a diverse neighborhood." Prendergast's attorneys contacted Rialto police about pending legal action, but the department says the responding officers acted professionally.

"It was a very low-key contact," said Captain William Wilson with the Rialto Police Department. "Nobody had their hands up in the air. There was no guns pointed. Nobody was put on the curb."

"At no time during the encounter did officers use any form of restraints with the involved people," a press release from the Rialto Police Department reads in part.

Prendergast's manager said a longer video of the incident will be released Tuesday.

Rialto police say their officers were wearing body cameras at the time of the encounter. However, because of the possible lawsuit, they say that video will not be released yet.