Beverly Hills police apologized Tuesday for handcuffing and holding for about six hours a black television/movie producer on suspicion of armed robbery while he was walking toward his car.
Charles Belk, 51, wrote on Facebook that he was walking away from a restaurant on Wilshire Boulevard when police grabbed him about 5:20 p.m. Friday. He said he was handcuffed, forced to sit on a curb then taken to the police station, where he was held until about midnight, when detectives reviewed bank security video and realized he was not involved in the heist.
“I get that the Beverly Hills Police Department didn’t know at the time that I was a law-abiding citizen of the community and that in my 51 years of existence, had never been handcuffed or arrested for any reason,” Belk wrote. “All they saw was someone fitting the description. Doesn’t matter if he’s a ‘Taye Diggs BLACK,’ a ‘LL Cool J BLACK’ or a ‘Drake BLACK.”‘
Police said Belk was detained because he matched the description of a man suspected of being an accomplice to Brianna Clemons Kloutse, 47, who was arrested the same day following the robbery at a Citibank in the 8400 block of Wilshire Boulevard. Kloutse is suspected of being the “Purse Packing Bandit,” who has been connected to a series of bank heists in Los Angeles, West Hollywood and Beverly Hills.
Kloutse was charged today with nine counts of second-degree robbery and two counts of attempted second-degree robbery. Prosecutors said she is accused of heists dating back to October 2012.
Beverly Hills police Sgt. Max Subin said investigators were continuing to search for the person believed to have been working with Kloutse.
“The Beverly Hills Police Department deeply regrets the inconvenience to Mr. Belk and has reached out to him to express those regrets and further explain the circumstances,” according to the BHPD. “However, based on witness accounts and his location close to the bank, officers properly detained and arrested him based on he totality of the circumstances known at the time of the field investigation.”
Belk, who said he had been working at a pre-Emmy Awards gifting suite at an area hotel and was planning to attend a pre-Emmy party that night, wrote on Facebook that he understands officers did not know who he was when he was initially detained. But he wrote that he was “denied a phone call, denied explanation of charges against me, denied ever being read my rights, denied being able to speak to my lawyer for a lengthy time and denied being told that my car had been impounded, all because I was misidentified as the wrong ‘tall, bald head, black male.”‘
He also said he did not understand why it took police about six hours to review surveillance video from the bank that proved he was not involved in the heist. He said he was released within 10 minutes of investigators reviewing the video.
— City News Service