Authorities detained a group of people protecting Los Angeles businesses from vandals and looters on Monday.
A local Los Angeles Fox affiliate caught the gut-churning moment on camera.
What are the details?
According to KTTV-TV, the incident took place Monday evening in Van Nuys when a group of people helped a local business owner protect his liquor store from vandals.
The station reported that officials were “confused” over the situation upon arrival, which played out live on KTTV. KTTV reporter Christina Gonzalez witnessed the entire exchange in a live broadcast.
Store owners and community members armed themselves and had gathered to physically protect the store from looters, who reportedly approached a neighboring gold store.
A local woman by the name of Monet, who was part of the group of good Samaritans, told Gonzalez that she advised the group of looters that “we’re not doing that.”
“We’re not tearing anything up over here,” she recalled telling the suspects.
That’s when the group — along with Gonzalez — attempted to wave down officers passing the scene to intervene in the looting.
The station reported, “When Los Angeles Police officers arrived in front of the store, there was confusion. As the situation continued to unfold on live TV, several of the officers ran after several men who ran across the street, but other officers approached Monet, her husband, and brother-in-law, who are all African-American, and began putting them in handcuffs as Gonzalez tried explaining that they were not the looters.”
Monet later added that she believes the looting is entirely separate from the rioting.
“I believe what [looters are] doing is trying to get what they can get because of the protest situation,” she told the reporter.
In the video, one of the responding officers can be heard telling the reporter that they were going to handcuff Monet and her group “right now.” Gonzalez frantically explained that Monet and the group were not the looters, and attempted to provide descriptions of the suspects, which had fled at this point.
Monet later told the station, “I was handcuffed, thrown up against a wall with my husband and brother-in-law, and I’m like, ‘What the hell?’ The news people are here and telling you it’s not her, she’s trying to stop the situation.”
Officers eventually let Monet and her group go without arrests or charges.
Did law enforcement respond to the fluke?
LAPD Commanding Officer Andy Neiman told the station that he was watching the live broadcast when he saw his officers detaining Monet — a well-known citizen in the area — and her group.
“[Officers] have citizens that are flagging them down, not knowing what’s going on, and until they sort everything out,” he explained, “they don’t know who they’re dealing with. They don’t know if they’re good guys, bad guys, and so we have to get it under control first and then sort everything out.”
Monet later told the station that she can appreciate the protests, but does not condone the looting or violence.
“I understand the protest. I understand what this is about. I get it. I understand that – I’m fighting for the same protest,” she said. “But we don’t want people from other cities to come and tear [apart] where we live because we have to rebuild this. We did this once before. I understand the anger.”
She also responded to Neiman’s remarks that officers are sometimes not entirely aware of their surroundings in situations like this.
“I get it. I understand [the officers] are tired. They’re worn-out too. We’ve been worn out. I’m 55, we’re tired too,” she reasoned. “The same injustice you did to us years ago, and my father and forefathers, you guys are doing to our young black men and our young black women, including Latinos.”
“I tell my children this all the time, ‘One second of your thinking can cost you your life or someone else’s life,'” Monet added. “This white gentleman who was a police officer who was here to protect and serve, one second of his thinking cost someone else their life, which is about to cost your family their life, and costing people their business.”