A judge has ordered the Los Angeles Police Department to get rid of photographs of legal documents that officers allegedly took during an unannounced raid on the home of an attorney representing a prominent Black Lives Matter activist.
The attorney, Dermot Givens, said roughly a dozen Los Angeles police officers descended on his townhouse on Tuesday, ordering him to stand outside as they executed a warrant.
When he went back inside, Givens said he saw an officer photographing documents left on his kitchen table related to a lawsuit filed against the department on behalf of Melina Abdullah, the co-founder of the Los Angeles chapter of Black Lives Matter.
Abdullah has alleged officers violated her civil rights in 2020 by forcing her out of her home at gunpoint after receiving a hoax call about a hostage situation there.
The papers photographed by police contained “portions of Mr. Given’s case file, and potentially attorney work product” related to Abdullah’s case, according to an application in Los Angeles County Superior Court requesting that police destroy or return the materials and provide a copy of the warrant used to justify the search.
On Friday, Judge Rupert Byrdsong granted that request. Givens said he had not received confirmation from the LAPD or any information about the warrant as of Saturday.
A police spokesperson said the department was conducting an internal investigation and declined to provide further details about the search. “This is an open criminal investigation as well as an internal affairs investigation,” the spokesperson, Capt. Kelly Muniz, said by phone.
According to Givens, police said they were responding to a GPS tracker located near his home as part of their search for a young man named Tyler. After surrounding the townhouse with guns drawn, officers in tactical gear “ransacked” his house, he said, emptying drawers, opening his safe, and rifling through his briefcase.
Givens said he had lived in the house for more than two decades and did not know anyone who matched the name and description of the person police claimed to be looking for. The raid was first reported Friday night by the Los Angeles Times.
The attorney alleged that it was latest instance of harassment from the LAPD for his work on behalf of clients who are suing the department. He said police "know exactly who I am and where I live” and they're lying if the say otherwise.
Givens is currently representing Abdullah in her lawsuit against the LAPD for their response to a “swatting incident” at her home in 2020, which involved officers surrounding her house and ordering her and her children to come outside through a loudspeaker.
She has alleged that police used the prank call, which was carried out by teenagers, as pretext to “terrorize” her for her role in organizing protests following the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police in 2020.
Los Angeles police have not commented on officers' actions at Abdullah’s home, citing the pending litigation.