LOS ANGELES (KABC) – Compton Mayor Aja Brown was in the car at a traffic light in her own town with her husband and one-year-old daughter last June when a deputy sheriff made a U-turn to overtake them.
She said several other MPs showed up, accused of rolling over the border line of the intersection, ordered her and her husband to get out of their car, and told her to search their car for drugs.
"I was obviously incredulous and surprised that I had my family in the vehicle. A Volvo car does not, in my opinion or experience, indicate that someone is drug trafficking," said Brown.
Brown said MPs shone a light on her crying daughter's face through the window, and she, her husband and her car were searched. The only thing MPs found in their car was the baby, no drugs or other contraband, Mayor Brown told Eyewitness News.
"At one point the watch commander was contacted and they found out that I was the mayor and tried to change their approach," she said. "But it was just too late."
As a black woman, Brown knows her story is not unique to Compton, the Los Angeles area, or the nation as a whole.
"I've lived and traveled elsewhere in college and it's just normal terror that people of color, blacks, deal with when they encounter law enforcement," she said.
"They assume that you are being treated unfairly, that your rights are being violated in some way, and that your life is definitely in danger."
In a response to ABC7 about the incident, LASD's Captain Joe Mendoza said that it was thoroughly investigated in 2019 and was classified as "lawful detention".
"During the investigation, Ms. Brown stated that she had a record of the incident and agreed to provide it to the investigator. However, that record was never given to the investigator for review," Mendoza continued in an email.
"In September 2019, Compton Station Captain Larry Waldie wrote and mailed a closing letter to Ms. Brown. Ms. Brown is invited to contact Compton Station Captain La Tonya Clark for further details on the resolution of their complaint. " he wrote.
LASD forwarded a copy of the 2019 letter to ABC7, stating that Captain Waldie Brown said, "Although California law prohibits me from discussing specific details of peacekeeping personnel matters, appropriate administrative measures have been taken after the Department's investigation was completed." "
Los Angeles County's 2018 and 2019 Sheriff's Department data shows that Black Angelenos were stopped by the LA County Sheriff's Department more than twice as often as their white counterparts, according to an analysis of data by ABC7 Eyewitness News.
ABC7 found that the stop rate for blacks during those years was around 75 per 1,000 people, but the arrest rate for whites was only 29 per 1,000. Additionally, blacks made up nearly 18% of the stops, but only 8% of the LA County's population.
A similar analysis by ABC7 of Los Angeles Police Department stop numbers over the past decade shows that blacks are four times more likely to be stopped by police than whites.
In the past 10 years, the LAPD has stopped nearly 8 million pedestrians and drivers. A quarter of those arrested were black, but less than one in ten Los Angeles residents is black.
Brian Williams, the executive director of the sheriff's Civilian Oversight Commission, said the numbers would come as no surprise to him.
"No, it just confirms what most people already knew," he said.
The sheriff's department didn't specifically comment on ABC7's findings, but generally said that the numbers don't tell the full story.
"I would only say based on my personal experience that many of these contacts are warning signs," said LASD Captain Joe Mendoza.
"Trying to get them – the person you stopped – to remind them like," Hey, you can't speed up here. Hey, you need to make a complete stop. "Lots these are just warnings and unnecessary, not necessarily stops that lead to quotations, "he said.
According to the LASD data, around 21% of all stops and 24% of all traffic stops resulted in a warning.
ABC7 reached out to the LAPD on Friday for a response and sent the departmental summaries of the data. However, they said they could not honor the request for now.
The LAPD data only indicates whether or not there was activity after the stop, whether it was a search or an arrest. Blacks and Latinos were more likely to be exposed to other activities than whites.
In particular, black men were exposed to further activity at a rate of almost 40%, while the rate for white men was around 20%. Black women were exposed to further activity at a rate of about 23%; the rate for white women was only 13%.
The LASD data goes deeper into what happens after the stop.
Suspended blacks were handcuffed almost twice as often as whites and more than twice as likely to point a gun at them.
They were also more than twice as likely to be removed from their vehicle if stopped for a traffic violation.
Although the likelihood of being searched is almost twice as high, LASD no longer found contraband items such as weapons, drugs or stolen items when searching for blacks against whites.
Of the blacks searched, 35% resulted in some form of contraband. 47% of the searched whites resulted in contraband. ABC7's analysis showed a similar trend with only traffic stops, which make up about three-quarters of LASD stops.
Some areas differ more than others.
Stops at the West LA division of the LAPD, one of the biggest differences, if not the biggest. It is the whitest of all LAPD departments, according to census data. Over the past five years, blacks made up 21% of stopovers, but only 3% of the population.
This trend has been constant from year to year and also in the Hollywood division.
Outside of LA, most cities and towns are seeing the same trend.
In Malibu, black residents were seven times more likely than whites and Latino residents were four times more likely to be stopped.
LASD & # 39; Executioner & # 39 ;: The Mayor of Compton says MPs & # 39; terrorized the community for decades & # 39 ;.
In West Hollywood, black residents were nine times more likely than white residents, and Latino residents were more than twice as likely.
In East LA, Pico Rivera, Lancaster, and Marina del Rey, black residents were three times more likely to be stopped by LASD.
In Compton, where the mayor was stopped and searched, black residents were not necessarily more likely than white residents, but they made up 42% of the stops and only 29% of the population.
These rates are based on the racial demographics of the area where the stop took place. While these demographics can change over the course of the day, the differences apply when compared to neighboring areas and the populations of cities and counties as a whole.
What the data cannot show is why the stop was made, which is why some police experts say that disparity alone does not mean bias.
"In order to know exactly the motivation behind a traffic obstruction, one would actually have to remember this person, because every traffic obstruction is only based on the observations of this single deputy who is on patrol," said Captain Mendoza.
However, Williams of the Civilian Oversight Commission said he felt "something is up".
"The question is, under what conditions is this possible. What's on the MP's mind? Are there really guidelines to stop what I think is a different treatment of black and latino drivers that is going on here in Southern California?" he asked.
For Mayor Brown, accountability and "deliberate dialogue" are required to restore trust between colored people and law enforcement agencies.
"There has to be some financial motivation for them to change their behavior and accountability," she said. "There just has to be justice. And in the same way, our district attorney must take a stance to actually prosecute officials and MPs who break the law."
Yun Choi, John Kelly, and Lisa Bartley contributed to this report.
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