A video of an unarmed Black man sitting in his parked car while being threatened by a police officer with his gun drawn in Gardena, California has gone viral.
The man, identified as rapper Feezy Lebron, was sitting in his car at 14809 Crenshaw Blvd. On Dec. 31 while using his cell phone, he was approached by two Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies and asked what he was doing. One officer immediately threatened to pepper spray Lebron.
“I’m just gonna spray him,” said the deputy. “Get out or you’re getting sprayed.”
Lebron is heard saying, “For what? For What?”
After Lebron doesn’t exit the vehicle, the deputy drew his firearm and pointed it at Lebron.
“If you take off in this car, I’m going to shoot you,” said the deputy. “I’m going to make it super easy on you. You put this car in drive, you’re getting one right to the chest.”
The deputy continued, “If you pull some bulls—, you’re gonna take one to the chest,” he said, before adding, “If you don’t listen, you’re done.”
Lebron replied, “You gon’ shoot me sitting in the car?”
After Lebron exited the vehicle, the deputy handcuffed him while accusing him of having anger issues and made a comment about Lebron smoking marijuana. Marijuana is legal in the state of California.
“Unfortunately for you, you shouldn’t smoke so much weed in your car and then we wouldn’t have to search you.”
Lebron replied, “I didn’t smoke no weed in my f— car… It’s not illegal.”
The deputy asked Lebron, “Do you have anger issues or what?”
Civil rights lawyer Ben Crump shared the bodycam video on Twitter on Jan. 9. “This is grossly UNPROFESSIONAL & concerning — on Dec. 31, a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy reportedly threatened to shoot an LA-based rapper during a traffic stop! A complaint has been filed, & the Sheriff’s Department is investigating the deputies’ actions and language.”
Lebron also shared an audio version on Instagram with the caption, “2 police officers Jus put guns in ma face n threatened to shoot n kill me for sittin in ma own car smh..#2023 feel like 1923 #explore #explore.”
The post immediately garnered reactions from viewers who were concerned for the rapper’s safety.
One user wrote:
“This is horrific. I had goose bumps watching this. You were literally sitting there getting mixed messages doing nothing wrong but trying to comply. “If you move your hands ill shoot you, but get out of the car”. He was so aggressive and trigger happy the whole way through and just kept threatening to either shoot you or spray you. You can be a voice for the people and this situation shows how broken the system is. Thank god you’re ok. Your story has gone world wide. Don’t let them silence you.! All over a missing damn number plate.”
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department released a statement, noting the department had opened an investigation.
“During the contact, the deputies ordered the man to exit his car. One deputy displayed pepper spray, then drew his firearm and used unprofessional language, which later resulted in a complaint filed by that community member,” the LASD statement said.
The statement noted that the Los Angeles Sherrif’s Department’s police chief Robert Luna expected the public to be treated with dignity and respect by his deputies and those who do not follow that motto would be held accountable.
“Sheriff Robert Luna has made it clear that he expects Department personnel to treat all members of the public with dignity and respect and that personnel who do not uphold our training standards will be held accountable.”
The president of the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs James Wheeler also released a statement and said they were conducting a “thorough investigation.” They also claimed to have only heard an audio version of the encounter and therefore could not “offer a definitive comment.”
“Our values are straightforward and universal, applying to the public and our members alike, regardless of the nature of the allegation,” said the statement. “Regarding this specific encounter, ALADS has only secondhand information and an edited audio recording that doesn’t capture the incident in its entirety, and we are therefore currently unable to offer a definitive comment. The Sheriff’s Department is conducting an investigation into this matter and we are awaiting the outcome of that investigation.”
Lebron was not arrested and was given a ticket for a missing license plate.