A judge has ordered Los Angeles police to get rid of photographs of legal documents that officers allegedly took during an unannounced raid on the home of a lawyer representing a prominent Black Lives Matter activist.
The lawyer, Dermot Givens, said a dozen Los Angeles police officers descended on his house Tuesday, ordering him to stand outside while they executed a warrant.
When he returned 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 Mélina Abdallahco-founder of the Los Angeles chapter of Black Lives Matter.
Abdullah alleged that police officers violated her civil rights in 2020 by forcing her to leave her home at gunpoint after receiving a prank call about a hostage situation there.
The documents photographed by police contained “portions of Mr. Given’s file, and potentially attorney work product” related to Abdullah’s case, according to a petition filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court seeking the police to destroy or return the documents and provide a copy of the warrant used to justify the search.
On Friday, Judge Rupert Byrdsong granted this request. Givens said he had not received any confirmation from the LAPD or any information about the warrant on 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,” spokesperson Capt. Kelly Muniz said by phone.
According to Givens, police said they were responding to a GPS tracker near his home as part of their search for a young man named Tyler. After surrounding the house with weapons drawn, officers in tactical gear “ransacked” his house, he said, emptying drawers, opening his safe and rummaging through his briefcase.
Givens said he had lived in the house for more than two decades and did not know anyone matching the name and description of the person police claimed to be looking for. The raid was first reported Friday evening by the Los Angeles Times.
The attorney alleged this was the latest case of harassment by the LAPD for its work on behalf of clients suing the department. He said the police “know exactly who I am and where I live” and are lying if they say otherwise.
Givens currently represents Abdullah in his LAPD lawsuit for their response to a “swatting incident” at her home in 2020, during which police officers surrounded her house and ordered her and her children to come out via a loudspeaker.
She alleged that the police used the prank, started by teenagers, as a pretext to “terrorize” her because of her role in organizing the protests after the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police in 2020.
The Los Angeles Police Department has not commented on the officers’ actions at Abdullah’s home, citing the ongoing litigation.