Lawyers representing a group of five black men ranging from 15 to 20 years old announced plans to file a lawsuit against the owners of an Alabama mall and security company after their clients say a security officer profiled them, slammed them against a wall, handcuffed them and ordered a dog to attack them.
AL.com reports that 15-year-olds Rodricus Jonson and Ashton Golston, 16-year-olds Cameron Robinson and Zion Lett and Nathanial Henderson, 20, claim they walked into the Bel Air Mall in Mobile, Ala., on June 22 to do some shopping. The attorney says the boys were playing in the parking lot and chasing each other “like every other teenager” when they were approached by Justin Kestler, a 38-year-old security guard who, for some reason, had a 3-year-old Dutch Shepherd canine partner to help protect the invaluable property sold by Cinnabon, Sunglass Hut and Lane Bryant. Kestler allegedly hopped out of the car with his hands on his gun and yelled at the boys to “get the fuck against the wall” before cuffing them.
The play-play policeman reportedly grabbed the already-handcuffed Robinson by the throat, choke-slammed the teenager “on his head” and ordered the dog to attack the child. The 16-year-old was hospitalized two days for several puncture wounds from dog bites, a head contusion from being slammed against the pavement and a loss of hair. The Mobile Police Department quickly arrived and defused the situation by doing the only thing they know how to do:
They arrested the black boys.
Robinson was charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and possession of marijuana after cops found a small amount of weed in his pocket, NBC reports. Henderson, who was chaperoning the group, was charged with disorderly conduct. The other teenagers were released to their parents but police have petitioned authorities to arrest the juveniles.
In a statement, Kestler’s employers said that the MMA mall cop and an officer with the Mobile Police Department were responding to a report of “a fight in progress at the mall’s entrance.”
“We assisted the Mobile police officer in helping to detain an individual who was uncooperative and physically resisted police orders,” said a spokesperson for Allied Universal Security, the company that hired Toy Cop Kestler and his K-9 partner for the parking lot reenactment of the 1965 attacks on Alabama civil rights marchers.
L. Chris Stewart, who represented the family of police shooting victim Walter Scott, said that he will file a lawsuit against Brookfield Properties, The Shoppes at Bel Air and Allied Universal Security. They are demanding that the mall fire Kestler, stop its use of K-9 patrols and turn over any security footage of the incident.
The Shoppes at Bel Air banned unaccompanied minors after 6 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays after a rash of violent incidents. Brookfield Properties, the leasing company that runs the Shoppes at Bel Air, is the same company that manages the Galleria Mall in Birmingham, Ala.
On Thanksgiving Day 2018, police shot and killed 20-year-old Emantic Bradford Jr. in the Galleria Mall, prompting a months-long protest after Brookfield Properties refused to share video with Bradford’s attorneys.
“The Mall at Bel Air tried to kill five young boys mentally, and one physically,” said Stewart, who plans on filing the $25 million lawsuit this week. “It’s outrageous that a mall would hire an attack dog to patrol a mall.”
...And that’s how they became the victims of a mall called Bel Air.
Corrected: 7/3/20, 5:37 p.m. ET: This story has been edited to correct the year when Emantic Bradford was killed by police.