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Beverly Hills police admit 'breakdowns' in producer's pre-Emmys arrest

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Beverly Hills police acknowledge "breakdowns" in handling of producer's pre-Emmy arrest

Beverly Hills police acknowledged Thursday that there were procedural “breakdowns” in the arrest last week of a Hollywood producer who was mistaken for a bank robber and held for six hours.

About 6 p.m. Friday, police stopped producer and filmmaker Charles Belk, 51, on suspicion of being involved in a bank robbery moments earlier less than two blocks away. Police said his clothes matched those of a suspect in the robbery, as did his "physical characteristics."

But Belk countered that he fit the physical description only in that he is a tall, bald, black man. He publicly criticized the department for its handling of the detention.

“We can always improve,” said Beverly Hills police Sgt. Max Subin. “We’re receptive to some of the issues that have been raised.”

Police Chief David Snowden acknowledged the six-hour process failed Belk, who maintained his innocence throughout.

Belk was in the area for a pre-Emmys party and was headed to his car to refill a parking meter when police stopped him, he said in a Facebook post.

Officers took him into custody after a witness from the bank positively identified him as one of the robbers, police said.

Belk wrote on Facebook that he wasn't read his Miranda rights and was delayed in speaking to a lawyer. It wasn’t until authorities reviewed the bank’s video footage that they determined Belk wasn’t involved, he said.

In a statement, Snowden said there were “breakdowns in our handling of this matter.”

“We are taking these allegations very seriously,” he said.

The department is reviewing how it can more quickly review video and other electronic devices that can exonerate an innocent person like Belk, and how to give “prompt” access to a phone and a lawyer.

The department’s professional standards unit is also reviewing officers’ handling of Belk’s arrest, Snowden said.

Two days after Belk’s arrest, police took Brianna Clemons Kloutse into custody in connection with the robbery.

Belk and his attorney did not immediately return calls for comment Thursday.

For California news as it happens, follow the reporter on Twitter: @JosephSerna

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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