Early last year, two women were held at gunpoint by police after the authorities wrongfully identified their truck as stolen. Now the victims are suing the police department for the incident.
On February 8, 2020, Shibani Balsaver, 31, a film production coordinator, and her friend Sheilnee Sen thought they were in for an ordinary day of apartment moving, but the day almost turned tragic.
Balsaver got a U-Haul truck rented to move her items to a new apartment with Sen’s help. They set off driving east of Hollywood, but as the production coordinator got close to her new home, something terrifying happened.
An American policeman walks in the street with a police car visible in the background | Photo: Shutterstock/ALDECA studio
Over ten Los Angeles police officers stopped the truck with their guns drawn. Above them, a Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) helicopter hovered, and the women were completely surrounded.
Police officers demanded that Balsaver drop the car key out of the window. She and her friend were then ordered to get out of the truck before being forced to lay in the street face first.
Luckily, a video of the incident was captured by a bystander to tell the tale. At one point, two huge male police officers were recorded as they detained the innocent women after having them lay spread-eagled.
The officers put their knees on the women’s back while one of them placed his right knee on the driver’s neck before they were handcuffed. The police had thought the women stole the truck.
Balsaver recalled how she was shaking and confused as she felt a weight on her back. In an interview, she admitted to having been terrified that day and also confessed what went through her mind saying:
“I thought the officers were going to shoot and kill me.”
For her part, Sen recalled how she started panicking when she saw an officer point a gun at her. She admitted that her heart was beating hard and she felt like it was going to jump from her chest, adding:
"It was probably the most afraid I've been in my life."
Now Balsaver and Sen are suing the LAPD in a suit that accuses them of following an official policy. It allows officers to treat traffic stops for non-violent property crimes as warranting high-risk tactics.
They alleged that the officers didn’t tell them why they were being pulled over until they were handcuffed. Balsaver also mentioned that they had a receipt for the truck that was once reported stolen by U-Haul.
On June 26, 2020, Karen Garner, 73, was detained by police after leaving a Walmart store in Colorado without paying $13 for some items. The woman who has dementia had her elbow fractured by police.
In April 2021, Daunte Wright, 20, was pulled over in Minneapolis for an expired vehicle registration. Officer Kimberly Potter, 48, ended up shooting him fatally after he struggled, thinking she was reaching for her taser.
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