The co-founder of the L.A. chapter of Black Lives Matter (BLM) says LAPD officers purposely terrorized her when they surrounded her house in August of 2020 and made her come out with her hands up. This week she sued the police department and the city of Los Angeles.
In fact, they’d received a report that she and her family were being held hostage.
The Marxist professor of Pan-African Studies at Cal State L.A., Melina Abdullah, said the SWAT officers surrounding her home “were not coming to quote-unquote keep me safe. They were coming to evoke terror. They were coming to terrorize.”
LAWSUIT: Melina Abdullah, the co-founder of BLM LA, claims the LAPD over-responded to a swatting call claiming there was a hostage situation at her home last year. https://t.co/rjbl9di8JT
— CBS Los Angeles (@CBSLA) September 23, 2021
Or, if you’re an L.A. cop who responded to the incident of a reported hostage taking, you might think of yourself as helping save someone who needed help.
This case was another example of the dangerous practice of “swatting.” A man called 911 in August of 2020 to report that someone was being held hostage at Abdullah’s home. Indeed, as this story was being published Abdullah was targeted again by a swatting incident.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Abdullah faults the police for not calling her to find out if she was OK before they responded to the hostage-taking report.
The lawsuit says officers allowed Abdullah’s security guard, who they didn’t know, to pass through a perimeter and enter her home as they staged around it, and allowed two neighbors concerned about Abdullah’s safety to go to her side as she walked out to speak with the officers.
The lawsuit alleges those actions showed that police did not actually believe there was an active hostage situation in the home. And it claims the LAPD’s actions constituted unlawful seizure, false imprisonment, excessive force, assault and negligence, among other violations of Abdullah’s rights.
“This was a clear case of LAPD … attempting to terrorize us,” Abdullah said in an interview with The Times. “They made no attempt to keep me or my children safe, and this was actually an infliction of harm.”
Abdullah also called the response “an attempt to put down protest, to target me as someone who’s been very visible and vocal in protesting LAPD.”
The paper reported that Abdullah showed the incident live on Instagram, though it’s no longer on her page.
“I don’t know why they are here,” she said at one point. “They have guns pointed at my house. There’s a helicopter overhead. Nobody’s knocked at the door, but apparently they’ve made announcements for people to come out with our hands up. My children are in the house. My children are in the house. I don’t know what this is.”
After Abdullah went outside, an officer asked her what her address was, and she told him.
“Are you looking for me?” Abdullah asked. The officer then asked her to walk over to him, and said, “You’re not in trouble.”
When Abdullah got to the group of officers, another asked her if she was in danger. She said she was not.
“OK. We got a call to this location that there is a male in there holding you guys hostage, and he wants a million dollars or he’s going to kill you within an hour,” the officer said.
After the incident, she posted an Instagram video in which she accused the LAPD of coming to her home to “take me off my game.” She said the police “were trying to intimidate me out of acting.”
View this post on Instagram
Abdullah’s attorney claimed in a news conference that there was “ample evidence” that police should have known it was a hoax.
The Times reported that the hoax caller claimed he took hostages to send a message that “BLM is a bunch of retards.” He said he’d start killing hostages unless he got $1 million in one hour.
An unknown caller purporting to be Abdullah’s young son called police Thursday morning, falsely alleged that Abdullah had overdosed on pills and requested assistance, said Capt. Stacy Spell, an LAPD spokesman.
In part because of existing concerns about false calls to the home, the department dispatched a unit along with a supervisor to Abdullah’s home to check on her, Spell said.
Spell said officers knocked on Abdullah’s door, but there was no answer, so then went to a neighbor’s home to see if the neighbor could assist in contacting Abdullah — which worked, Spell said.
Other swatting incidents in the past have ended up with the innocent person being shot. After people started getting shot and the fraudsters started going to prison for getting people killed, the once popular way to get back at your enemies or draw attention to yourself fell out of favor.
No one has been arrested for making either false report.
We look forward to the prosecution of the person who did it.