A Black Lives Matter activist is suing the City of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Police Department for $4 million, claiming he was wrongfully arrested during a raucous police commission meeting last year.
Activist Greg Akili filed a federal civil rights lawsuit Tuesday, May 9, that stems from a series of events that occurred during the Feb. 9, 2016, meeting, according to local news radio KPCC.
While the meeting was underway, Akili and several other BLM activists reportedly refused to sit down and stop screaming invectives at Los Angeles Police Commission President Matthew Johnson. Johnson gave 68-year-old Akili one “last warning” to sit down, but the local activist stood up and pointed at the man, telling him he had no right to tell activists to be quiet.
LAPD officers removed Akili from the building and arrested him, not for causing a ruckus at the meeting but for reportedly assaulting a female officer, KPCC reported. He was charged with misdemeanor battery.
After Akili refused to take a plea deal, the city took his case to trial where a jury convicted him of resisting arrest. Jurors failed to reach a decision on the battery charge, however.
The activist has since maintained that his arrest had nothing to do with battery.
“I wasn’t arrested for anything but upsetting and disrupting the meeting,” Akili told the news site as he left police headquarters Tuesday. “And there is no law against that.”
The Los Angeles Sentinel reported that Akili is suing for unlawful detention, excessive force and false imprisonment.
“We filed this lawsuit, seeking to make the city uncomfortable in accepting the lies of the LAPD,” Akili’s attorney, Dermot Givens, told the newspaper. “We are calling on this city to stand together, to stand for justice and recognize that Black Lives Matter.”
Givens and his client allege that the arresting officers lied on the stand about what really happened that night. One officer reportedly testified that Akili violently grabbed her while reaching for her gun, leaving a bruise on the officer’s side. Another officer claimed he saw Akili shove the female officer, while a third officer said he saw Akili “bear hug” the female officer, the Los Angeles Sentinel reported.
Two other LAPD officers are also named as defendants in the lawsuit. They did not testify in the case.
Givens and his client are seeking $1 million for each of the lies the officers told.
“They lied on the stand, repeatedly,” Akili said. “They accused me of doing stuff that no reasonable person would do in a room full of police officers. And, the worst part of it was, because my hands were occupied — I had a hat in one hand and a notebook in the other — I couldn’t do anything to anybody.”
“They didn’t prove their case because they didn’t have a case,” he added. “They were doing this in an effort to silence Black Lives Matter.”
The Los Angeles city attorney’s office is currently reviewing Akilii’s lawsuit.
The BLM activist is still a familiar face at police commission meetings, however, according to KPCC. On Tuesday, he was asked to leave a session after shouting that the LAPD “is the most murderous police force in the country.”