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‘Haven’t Even Been Out of the House Since Then’: L.A. College Students Allege They Were Racially Profiled After One Was Wrongfully Arrested, Accused of Hit-and-Run While Walking to Store

Three Black college students in South Los Angeles have accused the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department of racial profiling them on April 10.

The three teens, 19-year-olds Armond Johnson, Laron Delton and Jayvonte George, were walking to the store on West 103rd Street and Budlong Avenue at approximately 5:30 p.m. after finishing their classes that morning at Los Angeles Trade Technical College. Johnson said he heard screeching tires and turned around to see Los Angeles County Sherriff’s deputies in their cruiser.

Laron Delton Armond Johnson Jayvonte George
Laron Delton (L), Armond Johnson, (C) and Jayvonte George (R) say they were racially profiled by the LASD. (Photo: FOX 11 Los Angeles screenshots / YouTube)

Johnson said the deputies rolled down their windows and demanded to talk to them.

“And then we heard a car like screech, turning left, but it stopped like it hit the brakes hard, so I turned around. And they told me first, they were like, ‘Come here,’ like really loud and aggressive, they were like ‘come here,’ and then I was like, ‘No, why do you want me? We’re just walking to the store,’” Johnson recalled

Johnson said that is when the deputies exited their cruiser and grabbed George by his arms, and Johnson began recording the incident with his cellphone.

Johnson can be heard asking the deputies multiple times what George was being detained for, but he received no answer. “They didn’t read him his rights at all,” said Johnson. “I’m still there recording, and we’re asking, ‘Why are you arresting him?'”

George later told Fox 11 Los Angeles that he put his hands up because he was worried that he would be brutalized by the deputies.

“They’re not telling me what I’m being detained or arrested for,” recalled George. “I got my hands up, and I’ve seen a lot of things where police and police brutality, so I was trying to put my hands up for my safety and their safety also.” 

Black people only make up 10 percent of the population in L.A. County but make up 24 percent of the killings by the police. George was put into the back of the police cruiser.

The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department claimed that George matched the description of a suspect involved in a hit-and-run crash earlier in the day. They also claimed that he matched the description of a suspect who stole a vehicle.

“The detaining deputies viewed surveillance footage of the hit-and-run collision and saw three suspects were involved,” the department’s statement said.

One of the deputies snapped at Johnson when arriving on the scene after he asked what George was being arrested for.

“I just got here! Didn’t you just see that?! How do I know?!”

Delton said he called his mom, and she came to the scene to ask the deputies for their badge numbers. Delton added that he has been afraid to leave his house since the incident.

“I had called my mother because we live around the corner and I called her and she was right on the way,” said Delton. “It’s unacceptable. That’s sad to be a Black young man, can’t walk to the store and scared of police. I haven’t even been out of the house since then.”

George also said that one of the deputies threatened to use mace on him if he didn’t put his hands behind his back. He was arrested but not charged with the hit-and-run or car theft for which the deputies claimed he matched the suspect description, but instead was charged with resisting arrest.

“They continued to grab me, and then I still asked, and they finally said I was being detained, and a cop threatened to mace me if I didn’t put my hands behind my back, so I complied and put my hands behind my back,” he recalled. “Then they took me to the station. This whole time they did not read me my rights.”

George said he called his mother at the station and told her that nobody read him his rights. A short time later, a deputy finally Mirandized him.

“It was very traumatizing because now I don’t even feel safe to walk around to the store,” added George.

At one point in the video, the deputies laughed at Johnson when he said he was scared after he saw a deputy approaching from behind. One of the deputies, Deputy Rodriguez, snapped at Johnson for asking for his name and badge number. “Look at it, bro. Do you know how to read? Do you pay taxes? Do you have a job?”

Johnson shared the video on TikTok with the caption, “Anotha day in LA 🤦🏾‍♂️😴.”

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department released a statement saying they were investigating.

“South Los Angeles Sheriff’s Station is aware of an encounter between a public member and South Los Angeles Station deputies which occurred on Monday, April 10, 2023. The video footage circulating on social media platforms was recorded by a bystander. The incident resulted in the public member’s arrest and a use of force,” read the statement.

“The Department is aware of the media interest surrounding the video footage, which depicts a portion of the incident. Although the Sheriff’s Department does not comment on active criminal investigations, we want to ensure the public the Department is committed to the preservation of First Amendment rights and the right of the public to observe, photograph, or record in any public place they are lawfully allowed to be present. The criminal investigation and use of force investigation is ongoing.”

Johnson said the deputies stopped the three teenagers because of their race.

“It was definitely because we’re all Black young men and the neighborhood we live in,” he said. “That’s still not an excuse for them because even though the neighborhood is corrupt, somewhat bad, you see us walking down the street not doing anything, hands weren’t even in our pockets, we were walking, talking, going to the store.”

“We’re planning on suing the Sheriff’s department and officers to let them know this is unacceptable,” Johnson added. “If we can push it further, we would like to see the officers terminated.”

“I hope we get some justice,” added George. “And I feel like the officers shouldn’t be able to patrol anymore because they’re obviously not doing right.”

George is scheduled to return to court for resisting arrest on July 7.

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