A rapper has filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department after one of his deputies threatened to shoot him in the chest during an interaction that was captured on body camera video.
The claim, a precursor to a lawsuit, alleges that Darral Scott (professionally known as Feezy Lebron)’s rights were violated and he was subjected to unlawful uses of force, as well as an unlawful stop and unlawful search of his vehicle. Scott and his attorneys allege the incident was racially motivated.
Video of the interaction in Gardena showed an LASD officer, who the claim claimed was involved in a previous “officer-involved shooting,” pointing a gun at Scott and threatening to shoot him in the chest. The interaction resulted in Scott receiving a ticket for missing a front license plate.
“It was just a terrifying situation. He was scared to death. I didn’t think I was going to get home and see my kids,” Scott said during a news conference Wednesday morning as he sat next to his 9-year-old son and his 16-year-old daughter.
Scott said that when the incident occurred, he was simply sitting in his car and broadcasting on Instagram while waiting for a friend. Two officers stopped, blocked his path with their vehicle, and approached Scott’s car, he said.
That’s when, according to Scott, he rolled down the window. One of the officers, he said, asked him what he was doing as he simultaneously reached into his car, opened the door, grabbed his arm, and told him to get out.
The LASD posted a video from the perspective of the other deputy. It showed him approaching the car when the first officer pulled up next to Scott’s car and reached in, apparently grabbing his arm. About five seconds after asking Scott what he was doing, the second officer pulled out his pepper spray and aimed it at him.
Scott asked why he was being sprayed, to which the officer responded by repeating that he needed to get out of the car or he would be sprayed. Scott asked why he needed to get out of the vehicle, at which point the officer put the pepper spray away, drew his pistol, and pointed it at him. Scott immediately raised his hands.
The time between the officer asking Scott what he was doing and drawing the gun was about 17 seconds.
“If you leave in this car, I’m going to shoot you. I’m going to make it very easy for you: you put this car in gear and you get one right in the chest,” the agent said. I don’t care what you have. I don’t care if you have bullshit but guess what brother, now you have to deal with it. But if you throw a bull—-, you are going to receive one in the chest”.
After the officer drew his gun, both he and Scott continued to talk for about a minute and a half, with the officer telling him to get out and Scott asking if he was under arrest and if he was going to be shot.
“The whole situation made me feel powerless. I felt like I had no control over the situation. I felt less of a person. I was angry, sad, angry, all the emotions at once,” Scott said, noting that he was afraid that if one of his arms fell, the officer would have used it as a pretext to shoot.
Scott eventually got out of the vehicle and was immediately handcuffed. He told the officers they did not have consent to search his vehicle, but the officer who threatened to shoot him told him they did not need consent.
That resulted in Scott being illegally detained in the back of a patrol van for about 20 to 40 minutes, according to the claim. Agents then illegally searched Scott’s car but found nothing illegal, ultimately letting him go with only a ticket for the missing front license plate, attorney Dan Stormer said.
Scott said that when he went to an LASD station to file a report, the officers tried to intimidate him and made him wait for hours before finally filing the report.
Since then, Scott said he hasn’t been able to sleep, feels paranoid, fears driving and is in the process of moving out because he feels unsafe. He also said that he had to have a difficult conversation with his son, warning him that he will have to grow up in a world where people might try to hurt or kill him because of the color of his skin.
Stormer said the claim against the deputies will be followed up by a formal lawsuit. Morgan Ricketts, another of Scott’s attorneys, has asked the Justice Department to file federal criminal charges against the officer who threatened to shoot her client. She said the deputy is a danger to the community and should be fired.
The ordeal has exacerbated tensions between law enforcement and people of color, especially blacks, Scott’s attorneys said.
“Wandering the streets looking for a random black man to hold at gunpoint is not law enforcement. It is not proactive surveillance. It’s bullying, it’s criminal and it has to stop,” Ricketts said.
For its part, LASD previously said the language used by the officer who threatened to shoot Scott was “unprofessional.” The department said it was investigating the case. When asked Wednesday about the status of the investigation and whether any of the officers involved in the incident had been disciplined, LASD did not respond to a request for comment.