UCLA police have video of at least some of the confrontation between campus officers and L.A. County Superior Court Judge David S. Cunningham III.
Cunningham has filed a complaint against the UC department, alleging that officers who stopped him in traffic threw him against the outside of his Mercedes and handcuffed him after he exited the vehicle:
He suggests the cops eventually overreacted after they spotted a prescription bottle roll out of his glove box, a bottle he says was legit blood pressure medicine.
The traffic stop happened about 10:05 a.m. Saturday outside 1050 Gayley Avenue, UCLA says in a statement.
His lawyer told NBC Los Angeles, which broke the story of the complaint, that the judge had just left the nearby LA Fitness on Wilshire Boulevard and was about a block away and in the process of putting on his seat belt when cops lit him up.
The complaint says Cunningham became “irritated” during the stop, but his lawyer says the officers didn't need to put him in cuffs. He told NBC Los Angeles that after an African American sergeant arrived 10 minutes into the confrontation, Cunningham was released.
During the course of the traffic stop, police officers instructed the driver to stay inside the vehicle and returned to their patrol car to run a routine license and registration check. Despite these instructions, the driver left the vehicle — an escalating behavior that can place officers at risk.
The driver stood in the roadway and refused instructions to get back in his car. As a result, the driver was temporarily handcuffed. He was released at the scene shortly thereafter with a citation for failing to wear a seat belt.
The school says an internal investigation has been launched and that the police cruiser's video will be reviewed.
Cunningham was president of the L.A. Police Commission, the LAPD's ultimate boss, ten years ago. He backed current City Councilman Bernard Parks for a second term as chief of the LAPD despite then-Mayor Jim Hahn's desire to replace him with Bill Bratton.
He reportedly is viewed as a fair and evenhanded judge with a cool temperament.
We'll reserve judgement here, but we hope this suggests to judges everywhere that it should never be a given that cops come with halos as standard equipment.