A black film producer who was mistaken for a robbery suspect by Beverly Hills police said he was humiliated when officers handcuffed him and forced him to sit on a sidewalk.
Producer Charles Belk, who was in the city to attend a pre-Emmy party, was handcuffed Friday evening while walking to his car to check his parking meter, he said on Facebook. He was then forced to sit on the curb while he was detained for six hours, he said.
“I was on the brink of tears,” Belk said in an interview with NBC Los Angeles.
“I wanted to cooperate … because I was convinced throughout this whole thing that they would figure this out,” Belk said, adding that he kept his “head down because I knew I was innocent but they wouldn’t know I was innocent.”
In a statement, Beverly Hills police expressed regret.
“The Beverly Hills Police Department deeply regrets the inconvenience to Mr. Belk and has reached out to him to express those regrets and further explain the circumstances,” police officials said.
But police added that officers “properly detained” Belk given the “totality of the circumstances.”
Police were investigating an armed robbery at a bank in the 8400 block of Wilshire Boulevard. On Friday, they arrested 47-year-old Brianna Clemons Kloutse, whom they believed was the “Purse Packing Bandit” responsible for nine recent bank robberies and two attempted bank robberies in the area, police said.
Witnesses said she was probably working with a man who distracted bank employees while Kloutse conducted the robbery.
Police detained Belk less than a block away, saying he “closely matched the clothing and physical characteristics of the male suspect.”
When police determined that Belk was not involved in the robbery, he was released from custody without charges, authorities said.
Belk told NBC that he was “convinced that I would still be locked up” if he had not been able to reach an attorney.
“I get that the Beverly Hills Police Department didn’t know that I was a well educated American citizen that had received a B.S. in electrical engineering from the University of Southern California, an MBA from Indiana University … and an executive leadership certificate from Harvard Business School,” Belk said on Facebook. “Hey, I was ‘tall,’ ‘bald,’ a ‘male’ and ‘black,’ so I fit the description.”
“If something like this can happen to ME, it can certainly happen to ANYONE!” he wrote in the Facebook post, which was titled ‘When you ‘Fit the Description.’”
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