A Black Los Angeles Superior Court judge has filed a complaint against the University of California, Los Angeles police squad for excessive force after a stop for a traffic violation. Judge David S. Cunningham III (pictured) was stopped over the weekend leaving a gym where he says a UCLA officer roughed him up for not wearing a seat belt.
Judge Cunningham was driving his Mercedes after working out at a nearby L.A. Fitness when UCLA cops pulled him over for the violation. Though his attorney, Carl Douglas, Cunningham said he had just buckled his seat belt when he was stopped and approached by a pair of officers. After providing his driver’s license, the judge was asked for his registration and proof of insurance.
While reaching for the documents, according to the complaint, an officer began to yell at him not to move and then a prescription bottle of blood pressure medicine rolled out. One of the officers asked the judge if he was running drugs, alleges the complaint. Cunningham, frustrated by the confrontation, reportedly left the vehicle and attempted to go to his trunk when Officer Kevin Dodd slammed him against his car.
Officer Dodd handcuffed Cunningham and placed him in the back of their vehicle. The arrival of an African-American Los Angeles Police Department sergeant was telling, as he allowed Cunningham to go free after about 10 minutes. Douglas raised the possibility of race being at issue at the stop, stating in a Los Angeles Times report, “”Do you think this would have happened if he was a white judge?”
Cunningham is not filing his complaint based on racial profiling, but instead the excessive force used to detain him before the arrival of the LAPD. Cunningham has served in his Superior Court post since 2009 after being appointed by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Ironically, Cunningham also served as the president of the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners as well.
UCLA released a preemptive statement Sunday regarding the stop and arrest, but fell short of offering any declarative statement at the time.