Monday, April 6

Judge files $10M claim against UCPD

This post was updated at 4:17 p.m.

A Los Angeles Superior Court Judge recently filed a $10 million claim for damages against university police, claiming two UCPD officers used excessive force after stopping him in Westwood for a seatbelt violation.

The claim, filed Jan. 16 by Judge David S. Cunningham III, alleges that race was a factor in the way the officers interacted with Cunningham, who is black.

Cunningham was pulled over on Gayley Avenue in November by two UCPD officers, after leaving the parking lot of LA Fitness, said Cunningham’s lawyer Carl Douglas.

According to January’s claim, officers Kevin Dodd and James Kim grabbed, handcuffed and shoved Cunningham into the back of their police car.

“Judge Cunningham did nothing to justify this detention and use of unreasonable force against him,” the claim said. “He … had not posted any reasonable threat to the physical safety of either of the involved officers or any other person.”

Cunningham filed a separate excessive force complaint against university police in November on the day he was pulled over.

The university sent a letter to Cunningham on Monday notifying him that UCPD fully investigated his complaint but did not find sufficient evidence to sustain his allegations, according to a UCLA statement released Monday.

“We are distressed when anyone feels disrespected by our officers or anyone who represents UCLA,” university officials said in a statement Monday. “As in this case, feedback to UCLA Police provides them the opportunity to review their actions, tailor future trainings and improve performance to reflect the department’s commitment to excellence.”

In a statement Monday, Douglas said he reviewed video from UCPD cameras that captured the traffic stop.

UCPD Sgt. Harry Standberry, a watch commander called to the scene, released Cunningham about 10 minutes after he was pulled over. Douglas said Standberry’s response indicates that race was a factor in Cunningham’s treatment.

“(Sgt. Standberry’s) immediate response leads to the unavoidable conclusion that Judge Cunningham’s arrest was outrageous,” Douglas said in the press release.

The press release said the claim was made public Monday because of the start of Black History Month.

“The scene shows this proud 58-year-old man, laying backward with his hands cuffed behind him, and literally struggling,” Douglas said.

Douglas said Cunningham is now seeing a hand specialist because of how tightly he was handcuffed.

Photographs sent to The Bruin in November appeared to show visible cuts and bruises on Cunningham’s hands and arm.

The claim said Cunningham has retained doctors, psychologists and psychiatrists after the incident. In the press release, Cunningham said he was shaken and bruised as a result of the traffic stop.

Compiled by Sam Hoff, Bruin reporter. 

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