Beverly Hills police are being accused of racial profiling after they stopped a Black man for jaywalking last week, then proceeded to treat him as if he were an armed felon.
Turns out, he was an executive at Versace who had just purchased a pair of sneakers he had designed.
But the cops viewed him as a possible cop killer, asking for his identification, then panicking when he began to reach into his pocket for it. The same type of fear that drove a Minnesota cop to kill a Black man named Philando Castile in 2016.
“Do you have any ID on you, by chance?” the cop asks Salehe Bembury, the vice president of Sneakers and Men’s Footwear for Versace.
But when Bembury laid his bags down on the sidewalk to reach into his pocket, the cop began panicking.
“Without reaching into your pockets, you don’t have any weapons?” the cop asks.
“I don’t,” responds Bembury. “I’m like super-nervous right now.”
The cop tries to assure him he has nothing to fear.
“I just want to know if you have ID without reaching into your pockets,” the cop says.
“I do have an ID,” Bembury responds.
“Do you have any weapons?” the cop asks.
“I do not,” Bembury responds.
“Do you mind if I check really quick,” the cop asks.
“You can do whatever you want, I’m just nervous,” Bembury responds.
The cop then orders him to turn around and searches him as more cops arrive and surround him, acting as if it were the most normal thing in the world to stop a man for jaywalking, then treat him as a murderer.
Almost three minutes into the bodycam video, Bembury begins recording on his own phone, telling his viewers that he is being racially profiled which offended the cops.
“I’m in Beverly Hills right now and I’m getting f_cking searched for shopping at the store I work for and just being Black,” he says into the phone.
“You’re making a completely different narrative,” a cop responds.
According to CNN:
Donatella Versace posted a copy of Bembery’s video on her Instagram account in support of the shoe designer, saying she is “appalled” by the actions of the police officers.
“I am appalled this happened to Salehe Bembury today,” she wrote. “He has been a consultant at Versace for a long time and the behavior he experienced is totally unacceptable. He was stopped on the street solely for the color of his skin. Stay strong @salehebembury. Sending you love and support.”
Attorney Ben Crump, who also shared the body camera video on Tuesday, questioned if police would have treated him differently if he were white.
“Would they have treated a jogging white woman in Beverly Hills the same way?” Crump wrote in a tweet.
In a statement to CNN, the Beverly Hills Police Department denied Bembury was racially profiled by officers, saying it “does not protect the public based on race.”
“Mr. Bembury, as confirmed in the full 3 ½ minute body camera video, was stopped due to a pedestrian violation. The department is committed to full transparency and released the full 3 ½ minute body camera video within 24 hours,” Police Lt. Max Subin said.
Police allowed Bembury to leave without a citation shortly after he began recording after checking him for warrants and finding none.
“Next time don’t change the narrative like that,” the cop tells him.