The Beverly Hills Police Department has issued an apology for detaining Hollywood producer Charles Belk, saying it “deeply regrets” mistaking him for a bank robber.
Belk, whose credits include “The Greatest Song” and “Douglass U,” posted on his Facebook account that he was “innocently walking by myself” from a restaurant to his car shortly after 5 p.m. on Friday when “my freedom was taken from me by the Beverly Hills Police Department.”
The incident took place near Wilshire and La Cienega Boulevards, according to Belk, who said he was en route to check the time on his parking meter. According to Belk, hours earlier, he had been handling celebrity talent at an Emmy Awards Gifting Suite, and had been invited to a VIP Emmys pre-party that evening.
The police department admitted Monday that Belk’s detention was a case of mistaken identity. “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,” police said in a statement obtained by TheWrap. “However, based on witness accounts, and his location close to the bank, officers properly detained and arrested him based on the totality of the circumstances known at the time of the field investigation.”
The suspect that Belk was mistaken for remains at large. But his alleged female accomplice has been taken into custody. Police say 47-year-old Brianna Clemons Kloutse a.k.a. the “Purse Packing Bandit,” is responsible for nine bank robberies and two attempted bank robberies in Los Angeles, West Hollywood and Beverly Hills.
As for Belk, the 51-year-old is criticizing the department for singling him out as a suspect because of his race.
“Within an evening, I was wrongly arrested, locked up, 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,” Belk wrote. “All because I was mis-indentified as the wrong ‘tall, bald head, black male,’ … ‘fitting the description.’”
Belk claimed that the incident could have been avoided with a little further sleuthing on the department’s part.
“WHAT I DON’T GET, is, why, during the 45 minutes that they had me on the curb, handcuffed in the sun, before they locked me up and took away my civil rights, that they could not simply review the ATM and bank’s HD video footage to clearly see that the ‘tall, bald headed, black male’ … did not fit MY description,” Belk wrote on Facebook.
In his lengthy Facebook post, Belk went on to say that he had never been to, or heard of, the Citibank branch that was robbed. Belk also cautioned that his experience underscored the need for change in how law enforcement conducts itself.
“If something like this can happen to ME, it can certainly happen to ANYONE!” Belk finished his post. “Time has come for a change in the way OUR law enforcement officers ‘serve and protect’ us. We all do not, FIT THE DESCRIPTION.”
Anita Bennett contributed to this report.