RIALTO (CBSLA) — A group of filmmakers says it was swarmed by police after leaving an Airbnb rental in Rialto after a neighbor reported a possible burglary in progress. The filmmakers, three of whom are black, say they were racially profiled.
The incident happened on April 30 shortly after 12:30 p.m. in the 2600 block of West Loma Vista Drive.
Police say a neighbor identified a group of people taking suitcases from the home and loading them into a car. The woman who called the police said she did not recognize the car or the group of people.
Airbnb host Marie Rodriguez said her neighbor called police because she didn’t know the home had been rented.
However, Donisha Prendergast, who is one of reggae legend Bob Marley’s granddaughters, had been staying at the Airbnb while attending a music festival in San Bernardino.
Prendergast posted a video of the group’s encounter with police on Instagram last Monday and claims she and her friends were racially profiled.
“We were surrounded by 7 cop cars. The officers came out of their cars demanding us to put our hands in the air,” reads a Facebook post written by film director Kells Fyffe-Marshall, one of the parties involved. “They informed us that there was also a helicopter tracking us. They locked down the neighborhood and had us standing in the street.”
Rodriguez told CBS2 there has been some property crimes in the neighborhood, so she understands why her neighbor was cautious. She says she tried to apologize to Prendergast and was disappointed to see her social media posts claiming the incident had to do with race.
“They’re latching on to this whole racism thing, because they’re black,” Rodriguez said, “but this is a diverse neighborhood.” Prendergast’s attorneys contacted Rialto police about pending legal action, but the department says the responding officers acted professionally.
“At no time during the encounter did officers use any form of restraints with the involved people,” a press release from the Rialto Police Department reads in part.
Prendergast’s manager said a longer video of the incident will be released Tuesday.
On the other hand, Rialto police say their officers were wearing body cameras at the time of the encounter. However, because of the possible lawsuit, they say that video will not be released yet.