On Tuesday, police released video captured during a controversial stop which the group of Airbnb guests involved claimed was an incident of racial profiling. The three black guests have threatened to sue the department over the incident, claiming that law enforcement overreacted to a 911 call of a wrongly reported burglary at the property they rented.
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The Rialto Police Department has denied any wrongdoing, saying the responding officers acted “respectfully, honestly and professionally” during the encounter with the Airbnb guest, one of who was Donisha Prendergast, who identified herself as Bob Marley’s granddaughter.
Law enforcement decided to release bodycam footage of the incident.
“The videos speak for themselves, said Rialto interim police chief Mark Kling, according to a report by ABC News. “Our officers handled the situation with professionalism, dignity, and respect.”
The incident gained national attention after one of the renters, filmmaker Kells Fyffe-Marshall, released a video showing the group interacting with the officers.
“We were surrounded by 7 cop cars,” said Fyffe-Marshall in a social media post. “The officers came out of their cars demanding us to put our hands in the air.”
“They informed us that there was also a helicopter tracking us,” she continued. “They locked down the neighborhood and had us standing in the street. Why? A neighbor across the street saw three black people packing luggage into their car and assumed we were stealing from the house.”
Kling has defended the department’s response to the 911 call and states that his officers are being unfairly accused of racism.
“The reporting party did not recognize the vehicle or the neighbors – and also the people as being neighbors – or the homeowner and believed that she was witnessing an in-progress burglary,” said Kling.
“It is imperative that our police department address the inaccuracies that are being reported,” he continued, “and also to provide our community with a reason that we made the stop in the first place.”
In one of the released bodycam videos, Fyffe-Marshall can be heard saying, “The police in Cali, they’re not Toronto police, and I respect that.”
“If you were Toronto police, we’d all be on the floor, hands up and we wouldn’t even have the chance to be like, ‘Guys, it’s an Airbnb.’”
Source: The Tribunist