Police bodycam shows Black man arrested during search for white suspect, even after 911 caller intervenes

KGO logo
Thursday, April 8, 2021
Dramatic LAPD bodycam video released in racial profiling lawsuit
A federal judge has unsealed a Los Angeles Police Department officer's body camera video showing an incident where a Black man who alleges he was racially profiled by officers was arrested.

LOS ANGELES -- Newly released body camera footage at the center of a racial-profiling lawsuit shows police officers arresting a Black man outside of his own home during a search for a white suspect.

Antone Austin, 42, said he was bringing in his trash cans from outside his Hollywood apartment on May 24, 2019, when two Los Angeles Police Department officers suddenly pulled up and ordered him to turn around.

The suit alleged that the officers were responding to a domestic violence call. The caller was vague and gave no description of the suspect nor an address and simply told dispatchers that the suspect was near Fat Sal's restaurant, about three blocks from Austin's home.

The body camera video shows the officers in their vehicle as they spotted Austin.

"Is this the dude?" one asked.

"Probably," the other responded.

They then approached Austin and commanded him to turn around, and he responded by asking the officers what they are doing, telling them, "I live here."

One officer then admitted that he did not have a suspect description but continued to arrest Austin.

"We got a call ... OK man, I don't know who I'm looking for yet ... Turn around man! What is your problem?" one officer was heard saying in the body camera footage.

Austin continued to question the police, and tensions rose. His 30-year-old girlfriend, Michelle Michlewicz, said she heard the confrontation from the shower and rushed outside in her bathrobe, trying to intervene. She ended up in the struggle and was disrobed in the process, exposed to others on the street as she was pushed and restrained by police.

At one point, the 911 caller even tried to intereve, telling police Austin was not the man she called about, but they continued with the arrest.

Both Austin and Michlewicz were arrested but charges were eventually dropped.

"In your mind, you want to say to yourself, 'It happened because I'm Black,' and then you don't want to be that petty. You don't want to be that small. You don't want to really believe that people's thinking is really [on] that low of a scale," Austin told ABC News. "Then when you watch the footage, and you hear the guy in the car -- the girl in the 911 call told him to go to a restaurant that was three blocks away from my house."

Austin said he fought for the release of this footage and said he's relieved that the public now gets to see what he went through.

"It's crazy that they can just convince you. [They're] supposed to be the mediator there to serve, protect -- to find out what's going on," he said. "They, in their minds, are the judge and the jury ,and they're going convict you on the spot, based on what you look like ... it's really eye-opening, It changes the way I look at a lot of things."

Neither the LAPD nor the city's attorneys are commenting to ABC News. The lawsuit is set for jury trial in October in downtown Los Angeles.

The couple's attorney, Faisal Gill, said the officers didn't know who they were looking for when they arrived at the scene in response to a domestic disturbance call.

"It was racial profiling,'' Gill said. "No question about it and to add injury to insult they arrest my clients, put them in jail ... Even the woman who called 911 tried to tell the officers that they had the wrong person.''