Black Airbnb guests demand accountability for police stop in Rialto

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Two black women and a black man who were pulled over by police after they checked out of a Rialto Airbnb rental say they want accountability from authorities and the neighbor who called 911. (Rialto Police Department)

Two black women and a black man who were pulled over by police after they checked out of a Rialto Airbnb rental say they want accountability from authorities and the neighbor who called 911.

The April 30 incident began when the white neighbor became suspicious and called to report strangers carrying bags out of the home. Donisha Prendergast and her friends, Kelly Fyffe-Marshall and Komi-Oluwa Olafimihan, all of whom are black, plus an additional friend who is white, were leaving the house at the time.

Officers responded to the location and pulled over the renters, who were in an SUV, and questioned them for 22 minutes while they contacted the homeowner.

The Rialto Police Department later released body camera video that shows officers engaging in joking chatter with the renters. They never drew their weapons.

At a Thursday news conference in New York, however, Prendergast said she felt she was singled out because she is black and that her life was put in danger. Prendergast, who is Bob Marley's granddaughter, cited instances where innocent black people have been shot by police.

"Do you not understand how you jeopardized our lives because of your fear?" she asked. "Just because I'm living here to tell this story doesn't make it any more right."

She quoted her reggae legend grandfather: "We don't need more trouble, what we need is love."

Lawyers for Prendergast, Fyffe-Marshall and Olafimihan have said they plan to sue over the incident.

"We want every record that they have, every body camera, every 911 call," said one of the attorneys, Jasmine Rand. "We want to review the evidence for ourselves and determine the extent to which their constitutional rights were violated."

At the news conference, Prendergast said the police should be investigated for how they handled the situation. So should the neighbor who called police in the first place, she said.

Fyffe-Marshall, who is a filmmaker, posted a short video of part of the encounter on Facebook, writing that they were "surrounded" by seven police cars and told to put their hands in the air.

The longer video released by Rialto police shows a cordial encounter, though one in which the black renters questioned whether the 911 call was racially motivated and expressed frustration that it was taking so long to clear up the situation.

Rialto police Chief Mark Kling said his officers handled the situation with "professionalism, dignity and respect."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Related Topics:
airbnbrace relations911 callpolicebody camerasRialtoSan Bernardino County
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