Two relatives of media magnate Sumner Redstone have sued the Beverly Hills Hotel and the Beverly Hills Police Department, alleging that police arrested them without cause after security guards beat them up outside the hotel’s famed Polo Lounge.
The suit, brought this week by civil rights lawyer Paul Hoffman on behalf of brothers Gary and Michael Snyder, contends that the incident is part of a long-standing pattern of collusion between Police Department and officials of the pink landmark.
“There’s a relationship between private security guards and the Police Department, and the average person just has no chance, even when the officers really should be representing the interests of the public,” Hoffman said. “I think this happens in a lot of contexts.
“Private security guards who are really not as well trained or regulated as the police are basically acting like officers without any restraints, and the police are basically assisting rather than preventing it,” he said.
Beverly Hills Police Lt. Mitch McCann said he couldn’t comment specifically on the lawsuit, but rejected its premise.
“That’s false,” he said. “We have an excellent relationship with our business community as well as our residents and we have that because we do a good job serving them. We take each case on the facts.”
Beverly Hills Hotel officials declined to comment.
According to the suit, the trouble began during a late-afternoon drink last July at the Polo Lounge, which for decades has been a hangout of movie stars and other powerful Hollywood players.
The Snyders, cousins of Viacom chairman Redstone, live in Florida but their family at one time resided at the hotel. They were having dessert at the coffee shop when they decided to pop into the Polo Lounge “to say a quick hello” to some employees they knew. After the employees implored them to have a drink on the house, they sat down.
Moments later, according to the suit, a security guard approached Gary Snyder and asked to speak with him outside. The guard refused to explain himself, saying if Snyder did not leave he would be arrested for trespassing.
After a brief argument, Snyder agreed to go and he and his brother left the lounge, the suit said. They had paused by the hostess desk, according to the suit, when Gary Snyder reminded his brother not to forget his backpack.
Out of nowhere, the suit alleges, one of the security guards threw Gary Snyder into a door and then to the ground.
As he tried to help his brother, the suit says, Michael Snyder was tackled by another security guard and handcuffed. He broke a bone in his finger during the tussle, the suit says.
When Beverly Hills police officers arrived, they allegedly accepted the guards’ assertion that the Snyders had battered them without attempting to investigate whether it was true.
“Had the officers conducted a proper investigation, they would have concluded that there was not probable cause to arrest” the brothers, the suit says.
The Snyders seek medical expenses, attorneys’ fees and punitive damages.
Hoffman, the Snyder’s lawyer, said the brothers may have had a dispute with the security guards a few years earlier. But that didn’t justify the guards’ actions or the police response, he added.
Loyola Law School professor Laurie Levenson said questions about the relationship between police and private guards have become increasingly common as more communities and business improvement districts set up their own security forces.
“There is somewhat of an incestuous relationship between private security and police officers,” Levenson said.