HomeSouth Asian AmericanWomen Held at Gunpoint in Traffic Stop Sue LAPD

Women Held at Gunpoint in Traffic Stop Sue LAPD

Photo by Chris Yarzab via Wikimedia Commons

Two women who say they were wrongfully targeted during a traffic stop are suing the Los Angeles Police Department, KCAL reports.

Sheilanee Sen was helping her film producer friend Shibani Balsaver move into her new home in February 2020. They were transporting Balsaver’s things in U-Haul from Hollywood to Los Feliz when they were pulled over by LAPD officers.

Balsaver said that she had noticed a police vehicle following her for most of the drive but thought little of it, CBS News reports. When they were pulled over, the women say 10 police officers were on the scene with their guns drawn. A helicopter was circling above them.

The women say the police asked them to exit the vehicle with their hands behind their heads. They say officers slammed them to the ground, held them at gunpoint and handcuffed them, according to KCAL.

“I felt his knee in my back and on my neck and push me down into the pavement, push my face down,” Balsaver told KCAL as she described how one of the officers shoved her to the ground. “It was really scary.”

The women say they were told officers had thought the U-Haul had been stolen. After Balsaver showed officers the receipt to prove her innocence, they joked about the situation. They said Balsaver should “demand free U-Haul services for a year.” 

Now, Balsaver and Sen are suing the LAPD. Brian Olney, the women’s attorney, says police officers used “high-risk procedures” for a traffic stop that was not high risk. He says that the actions of the LAPD have been previously deemed unconstitutional by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal.

U-Haul told CBS News that the company did not make an error and declined to comment on the lawsuit. LAPD also told KCAL they could not comment on pending litigation.

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