UCLA facilities employee claims UCPD used racial profiling in arrest

A black UCLA facilities employee is claiming a university police officer violated his civil rights and racially profiled him while arresting him after a traffic violation in Westwood last week.

Police stopped Claudius E. Gaines III, a 45-year-old probationary employee at UCLA Facilities Management, for a broken license plate light and for using his cellphone while driving home from a late shift on Aug. 27, said his lawyer, L.A. attorney Carl Douglas, in interviews with local media.

After Gaines was pulled over, Douglas alleged the officer handcuffed Gaines, called for backup officers and threatened to pepper spray him.

UCPD officer B.D. Young arrested Gaines just before midnight near the corner of Strathmore Drive and Levering Avenue for obstruction and resisting police. Gaines was booked at the UCPD station shortly after 1 a.m. Thursday, issued a citation and released about two hours later, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department records.

In an email statement Tuesday, UCLA officials defended Young’s actions.

“In accordance with standard police protocol, officers asked for his driver’s license and registration, but Mr. Gaines repeatedly refused to comply,” the statement said. “Officers then asked him to get out of the car, a request Mr. Gaines again repeatedly refused, escalating the situation and leading to his arrest for obstructing and resisting an officer.”

The Daily Bruin filed a records request Wednesday to obtain dashboard camera footage of the traffic stop.

Jeffrey Chobanian, president of the UCLA Police Officer’s Association, said in a statement that the association believes Young’s actions were justified and professional.

“Attorney Carl Douglas has repeatedly made remarks which misrepresent the officer’s actions regarding two recent incidents at UCLA,” he said. “The Association welcomes an open and transparent investigation of the incidents.”

The accusations come less than two months after a black Los Angeles Superior Court judge reached a half-million-dollar settlement with the University of California after he said two UCPD officers used excessive force when stopping him for a seatbelt violation.

Judge David S. Cunningham III said in his initial complaint that UCPD officers Kevin Dodd and James Kim shoved him against the side of his car, handcuffed him and put him in the back of their patrol car for not wearing a seatbelt. Photos reviewed by The Bruin in 2013 appear to show cuts and bruises on Cunningham’s hands and arm.

Cunningham, who was also represented by Douglas, said he thinks that incident may have been racially motivated.

As part of the settlement, UCPD was ordered to hold officer training on issues such as diversity, bias and use of force.

In a press release, Andrew Lopez, president of the Federated University Police Officers Association, which represents UCPD officers, said Dodd and Kim were thoroughly investigated after the incident and were cleared of allegations of wrongdoing.

Compiled by Sam Hoff, Bruin senior staff.

Read more here: http://dailybruin.com/2014/09/03/ucla-facilities-employee-claims-ucpd-used-racial-profiling-in-arrest/
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