LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The Los Angeles Police Department is facing a lawsuit that accuses the agency of using violent and risky tactics during traffic stops involving suspected stolen vehicles.
The lawsuit announced Tuesday was brought on behalf of Community Coalition, Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles and Sheilanee Sen.
Sen previously sued the LAPD over a February 2020 encounter in which she and her friend, Shibani Balsaver, were pulled over because officers mistakenly believed they were driving a stolen U-Haul.
"I was forced to walk into the middle of the street, drop to my knees while five officers had guns pointed at me," Balsaver recalled during a press conference outside LAPD headquarters.
Sen said the encounter has made her fear police and gives her anxiety while driving.
Bilal Muhammad called his traffic stop in November 2022 by LAPD as the "most traumatizing event" in his life and that officers treated him "like a violent criminal although I did nothing wrong."
Rebecca Brown, an attorney with the law firm Hadsell Stormer Renick & Dai, claimed such stops mostly involve unarmed individuals.
"Not only are these stops dangerous and ineffective for public safety, they're also illegal," Brown said.
Attorneys claim that LAPD sends numerous officers and a helicopter to the scene, and they hold people at gunpoint. They say LAPD statistics show that 74% of the vehicles stopped on suspicion of being stolen are not actually stolen. They add that back in 2014, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal said these tactics are unconstitutional.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore issued a statement which says: "As this is a matter of ongoing litigation, we will respond to these allegations in the appropriate setting, our practices are constitutional and represent efforts to protect the safety of everyone involved."