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A Los Angeles-based rapper has filed a $10 million claim, alleging that Los Angeles County deputies unreasonably threatened to shoot him as he sat inside his car on New Year’s Eve.
Body camera footage of the incident involving rapper Feezy Lebron (née Darral Scott) and his encounter with officers was released in early January and went viral on social media.
The video shows an officer pointing a gun at Lebron as he sat inside his car in a Gardena parking lot on December 31.
According to a statement released Wednesday, Lebron said he was sitting in his car listening to music while waiting for a friend when LASD officers pulled over and “began to harass him.”
Lebron’s attorney says officers opened Lebron’s door without warning, grabbed his arm and tried to pull him out of the car without explanation.
“If you leave in this car, I’m going to shoot you,” says the deputy in the video. “I’m going to make it very easy for you. You put this car in gear, you’re taking one right in the chest.”
When Lebron asked for an explanation, he said a second officer got angry and pulled out a can of pepper spray and said, “I’m just going to spray you. Get out or you’ll get sprayed.”
“Without any justification, the deputy drew his firearm and pointed it directly at Plaintiff at point-blank range, who had his hands up and was not moving,” the statement read. “The plaintiff was then forced out of his car, searched and heavily handcuffed, causing physical injury… He was detained in the back of a patrol vehicle for approximately 20 to 40 minutes while officers searched his car without consent or legal justification ”.
In the end, Lebron was not arrested and instead received a ticket for missing a license plate.
Lebron said that shortly after his release, he drove to the LASD station to file a complaint about the incident. He was approached by 4-5 officers who allegedly “retaliated against him” by “lying to him about his alleged inability to take his complaint.”
Lebron alleges that he waited around four hours to file his complaint while the officer who had earlier threatened him with a weapon came to “intimidate” him. [him] not to file a complaint,” the statement read.
Lebron thought he would be “killed and never see his children again,” the statement said. “[He] he was completely traumatized by the incident and sought emergency care several days later. He continues to have panic attacks, can’t sleep, and is afraid to drive.”
“I wanted to spend New Year’s Eve with my family,” Lebron said. “Instead, I ended up in a life or death situation, heart racing, fearing for my life, with a deputy holding a gun to my chest and threatening to kill me. I want justice so that my son and the youth of today never have to feel the fear that I felt that night.”
“This is a case of police terrorism,” said one of Lebron’s lawyers. “Your behavior of him is an affront to the very concept of ‘protect and serve.’ They put someone in a life-threatening situation on the basis of blatant racial profiling. Imagine how it would feel to have a gun pointed at your chest just for asking a question. Imagine what it would feel like if he kept his arms in the air for minute after minute, fearing that if he dropped them he would be shot and killed.”
The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department said the incident is under investigation. The body camera footage was released in hopes of providing transparency about the incident, authorities said.
The department issued a statement saying: “An officer displayed pepper spray, then drew his firearm and used unprofessional language, which then resulted in a complaint being filed by that community member. The Sheriff’s Department has opened an investigation into the deputies’ actions and language.”