Bay Area hip-hop artists file lawsuit against SFPD

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ByVic Lee KGO logo
Friday, May 15, 2015
Bay Area hip-hop artists file lawsuit against SFPD
Two Bay Area hip-hop artists are among four men who filed a civil lawsuit against San Francisco police claiming they were unlawfully detained and cuffed while making a rap video.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Two Bay Area hip-hop artists are among those filing a civil rights lawsuit against San Francisco police. They claim they were unlawfully cuffed and detained by officers while making a rap video in Bayview Hunters Point.

The attorney for the four men -- who are African Americans -- says the incident represents what's happening to black men across the country. And he says the video proves it. Police, on the other hand, say the video doesn't tell the whole story.

"The young men came to me and they believed they had been wrongfully detained, put in handcuffs, and arrested," said attorney Richard Richardson.

Richardson is representing local hip-hop artist Yung Lott, rapper Joeski, and two others caught in a police action during a music video shoot at Hunters Point.

Some 20 people gathered at a playground March 8 in the late afternoon.

Police and the city attorney declined to comment because of the pending lawsuit.

But police did issue a press release in March after the incident.

Police said officers patrolling the area noticed a man loading a round into the chamber of a gun and then placing it into his waistband. Police said the man then walked into the crowd where the video was being shot.

In the video you can hear police order the man with the gun to walk over, "Hands up, hands up black hoodie, walk over to the sound of my voice now."

The man was arrested and everyone else was detained. They were cuffed and frisked and lined up against a wall.

"They took photos and made the young men lift up their shirts, take pictures of their tattoos," Richardson said. "I think that this doesn't happen to any other group. It happens to young black men."

Police said they identified other gang members in the crowd and were concerned they too might have guns and that's why they searched them.

The officers eventually released all but two -- the man with the gun and another who police say had crack cocaine.

Richardson says the group was cooperative and friendly.

"No threats, no violence," he said. "There was no reason to keep them for two hours."

In their March statement, police said, "The detention for this whole incident was for a man with a gun, not for making a rap video."

The man police arrested with the gun was just released from federal custody on weapons and gun charges.

Richardson believes police endangered the rest of the group by not arresting him before he came into the crowd.