The Beverly Hills Police Department briefly detained two occupants of a reported stolen vehicle on Nov. 19. The dramatic incident unfolded outside the Courier offices.
During the “high-risk” stop, a slew of officers trained their handguns – and what appeared to be a high capacity shotgun, also known as a riot gun on the occupants. They, in turn, cautiously exited a Mercedes sedan with their hands raised. One of the individuals was held on his knees.
On surrounding streets, befuddled tourists captured the tableau on their cell phones.
But up close, it was all too real.
“They were shaking, they were scared to death. I was terrified for them,” said Sara Henriquez, an eyewitness in close proximity to the scene.
Henriquez and other onlookers watched carefully as the officers proceeded to search the vehicle’s trunk and passenger compartments.
“I was expecting to see a body, or weapons or drugs in the car, by the way they stopped these guys,” said Henriquez. However, the only item removed from the vehicle looked to be a white t-shirt.
After the search, officers impounded the vehicle. But they released the vehicle’s occupants. The Courier caught up with the two men, quite literally, after they briskly walked away on foot.
One of the occupants is described on social media as one of the late rapper Nipsey Hussle’s “best friends.”
“We didn’t steal any car. And, I think someone should take a look at the amount of force that was used in the stop,” said the other occupant, who declined to provide his name to the Courier.
He added, “If my cell phone had gone off or had fallen out of my pocket at the wrong time, I wouldn’t be here.”
The Courier contacted the Police Department to obtain additional details about the stop, the show of force therein, and the reason the occupants were driving a stolen vehicle, yet subsequently released.
Keith Sterling, Public Information Manager for the City of Beverly Hills, shed some light with this statement:
“The vehicle was reported stolen by a car rental company in Burbank. During the stop, it was determined the occupants in the vehicle were not on the rental agreement in question. Police procedure is to conduct a high risk stop on stolen vehicles to ensure the safety of the officers, public and occupants in the vehicle.”
He stated that the weapons used in the stop were handguns plus “a less than lethal shotgun that fires bean bags.”
“The Police Department will review the incident,” added Sterling.
They won’t be alone. Videos of the stop immediately went viral, with close to 200,000 hits as of press time.