Antone Austin was bringing in his trash bins in front of his home on May 24, 2019, when two LAPD officers approached him and arrested him while looking for a white suspect.
According to Austin, officers told him they were responding to a 911 call from a woman who claimed that she’d seen the man she’d taken out a restraining order against in her neighborhood.
She didn’t give a specific address or description of the man and wasn’t asked to during her call, but the woman later explained that her ex-boyfriend is a white male.
“I was the first Black dude he saw and it’s weird, they weren’t even looking for a guy that looks like me, they were looking for a short dude that’s bald, you know, but they didn’t know that,” said Austin told KABC.
Police body camera footage from 2019 shows the responding officers turn back in their patrol vehicle when they see Austin. “This the dude?” asks one of the officers. “Probably,” the other responds.
They approach him, ask him to turn around, and when Austin asks why he
“Because I told you to,” an officer replies before telling him that he does not know who he’s looking for. Things escalate quickly, and the officers aggressively pull Austin’s hands behind his back, slamming his face against a wall. They then slap handcuffs on him as he calls to his girlfriend, Michelle Michlewiz, for help.
Michlewiz attempts to diffuse the situation, but her robe is blown open and she is pushed to the ground.
“I just got tackled to the ground,” she is heard saying, as Austin asserts that his rights have been violated. The 911 caller then shows up and informs the officers that Austin was not the suspect and that the suspect is white, but they follow through with the arrest.
Austin was charged with resisting arrest and assault on a police officer. The assault charge has since been dropped. Michlewiz was charged with interfering in the arrest and faces up to four years in prison.
The couple is suing for unlawful seizure, battery, excessive force, failure to intervene, negligence, and civil rights violations. They are requesting damages of $2 million. A jury trial is slated for October.