LOS ANGELES (CN) – A black reporter has sued Los Angeles and its police chief, claiming she was arrested two years ago while covering a protest police brutality, though the LAPD let other reporters leave the area.
Jasmyne Cannick also sued police Sgt. Raul Pedroza and Officer Martinez in Federal Court, alleging civil rights violations, false arrest and imprisonment and malicious prosecution.
“(T)his case is about vindicating the constitutional rights of an accomplished journalist,” her Dec. 2 complaint states.
Los Angeles City Attorney Frank Mateljan said his office does not comment on pending litigation.
Cannick has written several articles about the LAPD and defendant Police Chief Charlie Beck.
“At times, plaintiff has been extremely critical of the actions and decisions of the LAPD and its leadership,” she says in the lawsuit.
On Nov. 9, 2014, Cannick was covering a protest against police brutality in downtown Los Angeles when LAPD officers started “herding” her and protesters toward Sixth and Hope streets. There, she and about 150 protesters were blocked in by officers and not allowed to leave.
Cannick says the officers allowed other journalists to leave if they identified themselves as reporters, but made an exception for her.
“Subsequently, plaintiff was detained, handcuffed and arrested without probable cause or reasonable suspicion. Officer Martinez was the arresting officer,” the complaint states.
Cannick says Beck was in the area and recognized her from previous face-to-face interviews, but “Chief Beck allowed her to be unlawfully arrested and detained due to his displeasure about plaintiff’s articles or news reports that were extremely critical of the LAPD or his leadership of the LAPD.”
She claims that in his arrest report, Sgt. Pedroza accused her of trying to lead a group of protesters across the police skirmish line and that she never identified herself as a reporter, neither of which is true.
In fact, she says, “Pedroza did admit to recognizing plaintiff because he had previously seen her on the news.” She claims “Pedroza falsely attributed statements and actions to plaintiff to justify her unlawful detention and arrest,” and that “he made these false claims against her in retaliation for her articles or news reports that were critical of the LAPD.”
She says she was criminally charged “as a result of this falsified arrest report,” though the charges were dropped a year after her arrest.
She seeks punitive damages.
Cannick has worked as a press secretary in the U.S. House and the California Assembly, and as chief of staff to a mayor of a Los Angeles suburb. She co-founded the National Black Justice Coalition and My Hood Votes, with Compton rapper Eric “Eazy-E” Wright’s son Lil E.
Essence magazine named her one of 25 Women Shaping the World in 2005 and in 2013 Wave Magazine dubbed her one of the most influential African-Americans under 40.
Her attorney, Robert Stanford Brown, did not immediately return an emailed request for comment Tuesday afternoon.