Jury rules against Black Lives Matter leader in LAPD suit

Wave Wire Services

LOS ANGELES — A jury has rejected claims made by Melina Abdullah, the co-founder of Black Lives Matter in Los Angeles, in a civil rights suit regarding the police department’s response to a swatting prank at her home in 2020.

The Los Angeles Superior Court panel deliberated for about a half day before finding in favor of the city May 23. Abdullah contended that she and her children were forced out of her home at gunpoint on Aug. 12, 2020, during the tense months following the death in May of that year of George Floyd.

“Swatting” pertains to fake 911 calls made to police departments involving specific addresses. Some 20 LAPD officers, many in SWAT tactical gear, surrounded the home.

“Plaintiff was ordered out of her home at gunpoint,” Abdullah’s lawyers stated in their court papers. “She thought she was going to be killed, but left the house because she did not want the police shooting into her home since her children were inside.”

Abdullah sought emotional distress damages stemming from her belief she could be shot.

“This lawsuit was always about the fight for accountability and justice,” Abdullah said. “This lawsuit underscores the need to address systemic abuses and ensure that no family lives in fear due to reckless and dangerous actions by police. It is a stand against the misuse of power and a demand for the respect and protection of Black lives. 

“We’re going to continue to organize,” she added. “We’re going to continue to fight back against the LAPD. I know we’re going to do that. Black Lives Matter Los Angeles and Black Lives Matter Grassroots isn’t going to slow down. We can’t rely on the system to hold itself accountable.”

One of Abdullah’s attorneys, Erin Darling, said all was not lost with the jury’s verdict.

“While it’s disheartening to lose this case, it does not diminish the importance of seeking justice,” Darling said. “Every single attempt to challenge injustice contributes to the larger movement for civil rights and the protection of our communities. We may have lost in the court of law, but we feel that we won by having the courage and the fortitude to challenge the LAPD in court.”

Dermot Givens, Abdullah’s other attorney, said the goal of lawsuits like those brought by his client is to “prevent what happened to Dr. Abdullah and her family from happening to anyone else. The constitution still protects our rights from violation of our civil rights under color of law.”

In their court papers, the City Attorney’s Office maintained that LAPD Officers James Mankey and Jose Perez, whose conduct was highly scrutinized in the case, did not know Abdullah lived at the Welllington Road home.

In addition, the union that represents the LAPD officers defended the response, calling it “swift and professional.”

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