It was the walk to the car to check the meter and to make sure he didn’t get a ticket that ultimately led to film and TV producer Charles Belk’s six-hour ordeal with police in Beverly Hills, Calif., which included being treated as a suspect in a bank robbery.
According to Belk, who took to Facebook to detail his experience, a nearby bank had been robbed, and he fit the description of a tall black male with a bald head. Didn’t matter that Belk was in town for the Emmys and was actually at a pre-Emmy event—he was apparently handcuffed and made to sit on the curb after six police officers arrived.
Belk, who received his Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from the University of South Carolina, claims that he was walking up Wilshire Boulevard toward his car and was grateful for a text message that he received.
“In fact, if it wasn’t for a text message that I was responding to, I would have actually been running up LaCienega Blvd when the first Beverly Hills Police Officer approached me. Running!” the onetime consultant for the NAACP wrote on his Facebook wall.
He noted that he was subjected to a search and taken to the Beverly Hills police station, where he was booked and accused of participating in an armed robbery at a Citibank. Belk claims that he was not given a phone call and was told that he couldn’t leave until he posted $100,000 bail. He also noted that his car was impounded.
” … All because I was misidentified as the wrong ‘tall, bald head, black male,’ … ‘fitting the description,’ ” he wrote. “I get that the Beverly Hills Police Department didn’t know at the time that I was a law abiding citizen of the community and that in my 51 years of existence, had never been handcuffed or arrested for any reason. All they saw, was someone fitting the description. Doesn’t matter if he’s a ‘Taye Diggs BLACK’, a ‘LL Cool J BLACK’, or ‘a Drake BLACK.’ “
While Belk notes that the Beverly Hills Police Department was unaware of his many accomplishments and philanthropic efforts in the community, he was perplexed about why it took almost six hours for the police to right their wrong.
“Why, at 11:59pm (approximately 6 hours later), was the video footage reviewed only after my request to the Lead Detective for the Beverly Hills Police Department and an FBI Agent to do so, and, after being directly accused by another FBI Special Agent of ‘ … going in and out of the bank several times complaining about the ATM Machine to cause a distraction,’ ” Belk wrote. “Thereby aiding in the armed robbery attempt of a bank that I never heard of, or ever been to; and within 10 minutes …… 10 MINUTES, my lawyer was told that I was being release because it was clear that it was not me.”
Calls made by The Root to the police department were not immediately returned.