KNBC-TV news reporter Phil Shuman sued the City of Beverly Hills on Thursday, charging that he was kicked and beaten by Beverly Hills police officers while covering a dance after the 1984 Academy Awards presentations.
The Los Angeles Superior Court civil suit seeks unspecified damages against the city, its police chief and several unnamed police officers for, among other allegations, false arrest, false imprisonment and assault and battery.
Shuman, who was broadcasting a live report from the Governor's Ball at the Beverly Hilton, says in the suit that he was following police orders to remain within a roped-off area, when several officers grabbed him and his broadcast equipment, beat and kicked him and placed him under arrest. He was jailed for two hours before being released on $1,000 bail.
"It was just totally absurd what the police did," Shuman's attorney, Charles Theodore Mathews, said. "They were behaving like thugs, and now they're going to be asked to explain that conduct to a jury.
"Videotapes of the incident show absolutely clearly that Shuman was impeding no one. News photos show him being held by two police officers while another one was hitting him in the face."
Shortly after the incident, a Beverly Hills police spokesman said Shuman was arrested on charges of battery on law enforcement officers and interfering with officers in the discharge of their duties after he ignored orders to stay outside a roped-off area near the hotel ballroom and began pushing, hitting and kicking officers who tried to clear him from the restricted area.
Shuman told reporters at the time that he was in the process of complying with the officers' request when he was attacked by the police. He also said he was treated at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center for bruises on his neck and head and a cut nose that required several stitches.
After investigating the incident, the district attorney's office declined to file charges against either Shuman or the police officers. Shuman later filed a claim for more than $1 million with the city, but that claim was denied, Mathews said.
Beverly Hills Police Capt. Merv Pederson said Thursday that the department had no comment on the suit.