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“Is this the dude?” says an LAPD officer on newly released bodycam video from the incident. “Probably,” said the other officer as they drove up to Antone Austin, 42, who was outside of his Hollywood home around 3 p.m. to pick up garbage cans.
Police were responding to a call from a woman regarding her ex-boyfriend and a restraining order violation. She had given no description of the suspect, which did not deter officers from pursuing Austin, according to the complaint filed in federal court last year.
A judge unsealed the video from the officer’s body-worn camera last week. The two clips, each a little over two minutes, obtained by CNN from a representative for Austin, show the quick escalation.
CNN has requested comment from LAPD and the police union. The City Attorney’s office said it did not have a comment.
Bodycam video shows the confrontation
“What are you doing, bro, I live here,” Austin, a music producer, says in the video as the officer approached. Austin turned around and put his hands on his head and asked the officers who they were looking for while he was frisked. An officer said police received a call, but “I don’t know who I’m looking for yet.”
Other officers are on scene and as Austin mildly protested an officer placed him in handcuffs. The officers pushed Austin against a wall as he struggled to elicit an answer from them and began yelling for his girlfriend. With his hands cuffed behind him, he repeatedly yelled, “Help!” as he and the officers tussled.
Austin’s girlfriend Michelle Michlewicz, 30, clad only in a bathrobe which sometimes flung open during the chaos, tried to understand what was going on. “Why are you doing this?” she asked repeatedly as Austin was heard telling officers they had the wrong person. “This is dumb bro, stop, stop,” he said as they struggled. “I’m not him, bro, I’m not him,” Austin repeated.
As police attempted to handcuff Austin, Katarina Richardson, the neighbor who called police reporting her ex-boyfriend for the restraining order violation, told police that Austin was not the perpetrator, according to the complaint. During Richardson’s call to police, she was not asked to provide a specific description.
“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 to CNN affiliate KABC on Wednesday.
Richardson’s ex-boyfriend is White and “much shorter than Antone,” Jasmyne Cannick, a media representative for the couple, told CNN.
When Michlewicz tried to prevent an officer from placing Austin in a chokehold, she was pushed into the street and disrobed, causing her severe emotional distress, according to the complaint. Both were taken to the police station and released on bail around 3 a.m. the next day, said the complaint.
“He was in fear for his life, he did not know what was gonna happen. He did not know — is he going to be the next, you know, the next hashtag? The next guy that’s gonna be killed?” their lawyer, Faisal Gill, told KABC.
Austin was initially charged with resisting arrest and battery on a peace officer. That was eventually dropped to resisting arrest with a $7,000 bond, Cannick said. Michlewicz, a singer, was charged with felony lynching with a bond of $50,000. The couple have not been formally charged or had their charges dismissed. They also have not had their bond money returned, according to Cannick.
The couple is suing for unlawful seizure, battery, excessive force, failure to intervene, negligence, and civil rights violations. They are requesting $2 million. A jury trial is slated for October.