USC student sues LAPD, alleges cruel treatment during arrest at protest

A USC student who was arrested at a protest alleges she was injured in a wrongful arrest by the LAPD and the L.A. County Sheriff's Department.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A USC student who was arrested in a downtown protest alleges she was injured in a wrongful arrest by the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

Laura Montilla, a public relations major, filed a lawsuit Monday which details her account of her arrest on June 1.

She says there was confusion about the curfew that day. L.A. County officials acknowledged that a tweet mistakenly went out stating that the cut off time had changed from 6 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Montilla was arrested after 6 p.m. for violating the curfew. She says she had tried to leave the site of the downtown L.A. protest, but she got trapped.

"We tried to get back home, we noticed as we turned around the corner there would be another wall of cops, and we turned around another corner and there would be another wall of cops, so we realized we were being 'kettled' and cornered," says Montilla.

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She says that she and other females were loaded into cages on a bus where they were held into the night.

"Abandoned us in the dark for five hours without any access to food, water or bathrooms. And we started panicking," says Montilla.

Pictures of her wrists show bruises where her flex cuffs had been tightened around wrists.

LAPD says it does not comment on pending litigation. But it did provide its policy on handcuffing.

It states in part, "Minor injuries such as abrasions and contusions are sometimes unavaoidable." But also, "The handcuffs should be loose enough that they do not cut off circulation," and that "Handcuffs are meant to be a temporary restraint."

Montilla's lawyer says the curfew was unlawful.

"A citywide curfew at 5 p.m. across the board violated these protesters' constitutional rights to peaceably assemble," said James DeSimone.

The complaint also alleges that a pat-down searches by female officers or deputies were unnecessarily aggressive and intrusive and that she and others caged in the bus were subjected to deafening heavy metal music.

Montilla was initially cited for violating curfew. The City of Los Angeles later tossed out that thousands of tickets for similar offenses against protesters for that June 1 evening, including Montilla's.
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