The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department has launched a “use of force” investigation after three young Black men accused deputies of racial profiling earlier this week in an arrest that was caught on video and quickly went viral.
According to local outlet Fox 11, Armond Johnson, Laron Delton, and Jayvonte George—students at Los Angeles Technical College—were stopped by officers while walking to a store in South L.A. late on Monday afternoon.
“We heard a car screech turning left, but it stopped,” Johnson told Fox 11. “It hit the brakes hard, so I turned around because it’s kind of a dangerous neighborhood.”
When Johnson turned around, he saw a squad car. Johnson claimed deputies with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department stopped and spoke to him in an aggressive manner, instructing him to step into their cruiser. When Johnson declined, he said the officers stepped out of the vehicle—and that’s when he began recording.
In the video, which Johnson uploaded to TikTok, two officers approach him and grab one of his friends, later identified as George.
“Am I getting arrested? Am I getting detained?” George asks. “What am I being detained for? Walking?”
The officers don’t answer George’s questions. Meanwhile, Johnson continues filming, asking for the deputies’ names and badge numbers.
Another squad car carrying two more officers then arrives on the scene. An officer, whose badge reads “Rodriguez,” steps up to Johnson to block him from getting near George.
“Bro, what are you doing?” Johnson says to the officers. “Name and badge number? You have to tell me! You work for us!”
“You pay taxes?” Rodriguez says, pointing in Johnson’s face.
Officers eventually pull George from the sidewalk to the middle of the street, and Johnson continues to ask why the group was stopped.
“I just got here! Did you not see that?” Rodriguez yells. “How do I know?”
At this point, at least eight deputies are on the scene.
Delton told the local news outlet that he lived nearby and decided to call his mom for help. She is also seen in the video trying to get clarity from the officers as to why the trio were stopped.
“It’s unacceptable. That’s sad to be a Black young man, can’t walk to the store and scared of police,” Delton told Fox 11. “I haven’t even been out of the house since then.”
George said the officers didn’t read him his rights until he was taken to the police station.
“They finally said I was being detained, and a cop threatened to mace me if I didn’t put my hands behind my back,” he said. “So, I complied and put my hands behind my back. Then they took me to the station. …It was very traumatizing because now I don’t even feel safe to walk around to the store.”
George, 19, was charged and booked for resisting arrest, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s website. He was released on citation Tuesday, but has a court date in July, Fox 11 reported.
In a statement to The Daily Beast, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said “deputies conducted a detention of an individual who matched the description of a suspect involved in a recent hit and run collision.”
“The detaining deputies viewed surveillance footage of the hit and run collision and saw three suspects were involved,” the statement read. “The individual also matched the description of a vehicle theft suspect pursued by South Los Angeles Station Sheriff’s deputies in a vehicle pursuit which also occurred the same morning. The suspect fled on foot from the stolen vehicle and remained outstanding. The detaining deputies were present during the vehicle pursuit.”
The sheriff’s department claimed George did not cooperate with officers, causing the incident to “escalate resulting in a use of force.”
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said the office is looking into the incident.