A Black actor-filmmaker is suing the Los Angeles Police Department after he was wrongly tased by officers during an attempted burglary.
The lawsuit, filed by Snowfall actor Damien Smith, stems from a police encounter on October 14, 2021, per Atlanta Black Star. Upon arrival at his apartment, Smith encountered an unidentified man in his bedroom carrying a backpack and wearing his grandfather's watch.
The burglar charged at Smith, prompting the actor to grab a camping knife and cut his hand. Smith told the man to lie on the floor as he called 911 to report the burglary.
When officers arrived, they approached the back door of Smith's apartment, which was left open. Smith spotted the officers, who had their guns drawn, while he was still holding the knife and the burglary suspect was on the ground.
Officers ordered Smith to drop the knife, to which he complied and told them that he was the one that called the police. As they shouted at the filmmaker to get on the ground, Smith's neighbor, Tiffany Wysinger, came downstairs to intervene.
“I see them with something drawn, and I scream at the top of my lungs, ‘He’s the resident!’” Wysinger told the Los Angeles Times. “Then I hear a pop, and I start crying profusely thinking they killed Damien.”
Police stunned Smith with a Taser multiple times before the suspect ran into the bedroom.
“I’m like, ‘I’m the one who called you.’ They’re like, ‘Shut up,’ speaking to me very disrespectfully,” Smith said of the officers.
Officers handcuffed Smith and took him for questioning in the back of a police vehicle. After confirming his identity, a police captain ordered Smith to be released. However, Smith said he never received an apology.
“I’m still in shock and awe of how this transpired,” Smith said. “I’m in such fear of calling the police. Look what happened to me.”
Smith is currently filming a documentary called Searching for Officer Friendly, which covers police brutality and community policing.
“To do a documentary about policing, you have to deal with policing, and I’m traumatized by dealing with police,” Smith said. “Right now, it is really hard.”
Following the filing of a lawsuit, LAPD opened an investigation into the incident but have thus far declined to release body camera footage or comment on the encounter.
“At this time, there is no statement,” Officer Drake Madison told the Los Angeles Times.