Judge allows Black Lives Matter founder’s lawsuit to proceed

Wave Wire Services

LOS ANGELES — A co-founder of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles who alleges her civil rights were violated by police during a “swatting” episode in which a caller falsely alleged hostages were being held at her home at gunpoint in 2020 can take her lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles to trial, a judge ruled March 5.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rupert A. Byrdsong denied a defense motion to dismiss Melina Abdullah’s case, which also names as a defendant former Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore.

“In the instant case, plaintiff provided admissible evidence which created triable issues of fact,” the judge wrote, referring in part to the deposition of Roger Clark. Clark is a police practices expert who stated in a sworn declaration for the plaintiff that a sergeant at the scene knew that Abdullah lived at the home and should have called her or knocked on her door to get her to come out.

Instead, Abdullah was ordered to come outside, according to Clark, who also maintained that the sergeant was “heavy-handed and provocative” rather than intent on gathering information during the Aug. 12, 2020, call response.

In her declaration, Abdullah said that she saw the officers outside of her home and heard their commands to come outside, she felt she had the choices of either stepping outside and being shot and killed or staying indoors and risking the chance the police would shoot inside her home and possibly hit her children.

“When I did comply with the order and exited my home, I looked toward the officers assembled on the street,” Abdullah said. “I would estimate I saw two guns pointed in my direction. I feared they were going to shoot me. That is why I complied with their orders.”

The LAPD subsequently concluded the call was a “swatting” prank in which a caller deliberately claims the existence of a phony emergency so as to bring police to a location.

In their court papers, lawyers for the City Attorney’s Office maintained that the LAPD actions were lawful and reasonable and that the officers did not retaliate against Abdullah or intentionally seek to violate her civil rights. The lawyers said the caller untruthfully claimed that hostages were being held at gunpoint in Abdullah’s home.

“On the contrary, defendants acted in furtherance of protecting [Abdullah] and the other occupants inside from the threat of being shot by the alleged hostage-taker,” according to the pleadings of the City Attorney’s Office.

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