The Los Angeles Police Department tried its best to keep officer body camera footage showing cops arresting a Black Hollywood music producer out of the public’s eye, and for good reason. Neither Antone Austin nor his girlfriend Michelle Michlewicz is the white man officers were called to Hollywood to arrest in the domestic violence incident in question on May 24, 2019, yet the video shows officers admitting they didn’t know what they were doing then violently arresting Austin and Michlewicz. Michlewicz and Austin, also known as Tone Stacks, were arrested on an allegation of resisting arrest.
The city argued the release of the body camera footage would “be contrary to LAPD policy and may have a chilling effect on future LAPD investigations,” according to the Los Angeles Times. But a federal judge required the release on Friday as part of a civil rights lawsuit Austin and Michlewicz launched against the city and 10 of its police officers. “They literally saw the first Black man, and they arrested him,” attorney Faisal Gill told the Los Angeles Times.
Gill, who’s representing both Austin and Michlewicz, accused the city of unlawful seizure, excessive force, failure to intervene, two counts of battery, and two counts of negligence in the lawsuit. He also alleged in the suit that Austin’s race was “a substantial motivating reason for the City’s discrimination” and that defendants intended to deprive Austin “of his enjoyment of the interests protected by the right to be free of such conduct.”
The attorney wrote in the lawsuit that at one point in the encounter, Katarina Richardson, the woman who called police to report a restraining order violation on her ex-boyfriend, came outside and explained to officers that Austin was not the perpetrator but police continued to “apply force against Mr. Austin.” The officers involved in the incident haven’t been identified publicly or in the lawsuit. They are referred to as “Does” in the lawsuit.
The video starts with officers admitting they weren’t sure Austin was the man accused of domestic violence by the producer’s neighbor. “This dude?” one of the officers asked as their car passed Austin. “Probably,” another cop responded. When officers got out of the car, Austin could be seen taking out the trash. “Turn around for me,” one of the cops told him. When Austin asked why, the officer responded with, “because I told you to.” Despite the producer’s explanation that he lived there and the officer’s further admission that “I don’t know who I’m looking for,” Austin told Los Angeles Times he was thrown against a wall in an arrest that left both he and his girlfriend bloody. Michlewicz was initially inside when officers arrived but came outside in her robe to ask officers why they were handcuffing Austin, according to the lawsuit. “When one officer tried to place Mr. Austin in a choke hold, Ms. Michlewicz placed her hand on his hand and asked him to stop,” an attorney stated in the suit. “In response, the officer pushed Ms. Michlewicz into the middle of the street, disrobing her.
“More police then arrived on scene, tackling Mr. Austin and twisting his arms in painful positions.”
Michlewicz could be heard in video saying: “I just got tackled to the ground.” Austin screamed her name and yelled for “help” in the footage. “I just want justice served,” he later told the Los Angeles Times.
Warning: The following video may be triggering to some viewers and contains police violence and profanity.
Gill stated in the lawsuit:
“During the incident on May 24, 2019, at around 3:00pm, LAPD officers continuously assaulted and placed Mr. Austin in severe apprehension of fear of bodily harm to himself and his girlfriend and assaulted Ms. Michlewicz and placed her in severe apprehension for her safety and that of her boyfriend, while subjecting Ms. Michlewicz to severe emotional distress by assaulting her loved one and disrobing her, leaving her naked in public in broad daylight.
The police then transported Mr. Austin and Ms. Michlewicz to the Hollywood police station, where they were placed in a holding cell while officers left Mr. Austinbleeding and subjected them to mistreatment and ridicule, laughing at their expense while reviewing body camera footage of the incident.
Mr. Austin and Ms. Michlewicz were subjected to hours of imprisonment until they were finally released on bail around 3am the next morning.”
Gill is seeking at least $2 million in compensatory, general, statutory, and special damages for his clients.
Read journalist Jasmyne Cannick’s transcript of the 911 call officers used to track down Richardson’s location:
Operator: 911 emergency. Operator 493.
Caller: Hi. Yeah, I have a suspect that is actually–he has–I have a restraining order against.
Operator: And he’s at your house right now?
Caller: Um, I believe he is. Um, he is down the street.
Operator: Are you at the house?
Operator: What is the address?
Caller: The address is by Fat Sal’s?
Operator: But you don’t know what the actual address is?
Operator: Are you still there?
Operator: Ma’am are you still there?
Operator: I’m sorry?
Caller: I’m going to come to the police station right now.
Operator: Where are you?
Operator: What is the address of where you think this person is?
Caller: By Fat Sal’s.
Operator: You don’t know the address there or the–
Operator: Can you tell me what address you’re at?
Caller: Um, in a car.
Operator: Can you give me an intersection or an address of where you are?
Caller: No. I think it’s okay I’m coming into the station right now.
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