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A judge who is also the former LA Police Commission president is suing UCLA police, claiming that they used excessive force during a routine seatbelt stop.

Judge David S. Cunningham III – who is black – is also indicating that the actions of the UCLA officers were racially motivated.

It all began when Cunningham was pulled over in his Mercedes as he left the gym on Saturday. Police stopped him because he began buckling his seatbelt when he saw their cruiser. But instead of issuing him a ticket or a warning, this happened:

Officer Kevin Dodd asked to see his driver’s license. Cunningham handed them his wallet, then the officers requested registration and insurance.

When Cunningham reached for his glove box to retrieve the documents, an officer “yelled at me not to move,” he said in the complaint. “I became irritated and told him that I need to look for the paper.”

A prescription pill bottle rolled out of the glove compartment, prompting the officer to ask if he was carrying drugs. Douglas said the medicine was for high blood pressure.

Cunningham couldn’t find his registration and insurance paperwork in the glove compartment and told officers he thought it was in the trunk.

“When I go out of the car to search my trunk, Officer Dodd shoved me against my car, told me I was under arrest for resisting and locked me in the back seat,” Cunningham wrote in the complaint, which was first reported by NBC News.

Douglas said the judge was tossed into the back of the police cruiser’s back seat with such force that his feet flew up in the air. The second officer, identified as James Kim, accused him of “kicking.”

Cunningham’s attorney, Carl Douglas, says that the judge lost his cool and began yelling about police brutality. The judge, who as an L.A. police commission president had reviewed hundreds of potential police misconduct matters, began to fear for his safety, Douglas said.

Ten minutes later, a UCLA police sergeant arrived and released the judge.

An investigation into the matter is pending.


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