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Three black Airbnb guests who were questioned by cops plan to take legal action

first_imgCarl Court/Getty Images(RIALTO, Calif.) — Three black Airbnb guests are planning to take legal action against the Rialto Police Department in California after police responded to a 911 caller who wrongly reported a burglary at the location of their Airbnb stay.A neighbor of the Airbnb reported a burglary to police, and she claimed she saw four unfamiliar people loading luggage into a vehicle in the driveway across the street.The police dispatched six officers and a patrol helicopter, securing the perimeter while the people in question drove away.After making contact with the occupants of the vehicle, officers determined they were, in fact, Airbnb guests by contacting the homeowner. The four Airbnb guests who were detained by police were then released without incident and the April 30 encounter, according to police, lasted for a total of 22 minutes.While responding to the call, officers state they refrained from using any form of restraints and allowed the people involved to exit the vehicle while attempting to contact the Airbnb owner.This was the first time this particular home was rented out on Airbnb, Lt. Dean Hardin of the Rialto Police Department told ABC News.Kelly Fyffe-Marshall, one of the four Airbnb renters, posted on Facebook after the incident, writing that “a neighbor across the street saw three black people packing luggage into their car and assumed we were stealing from the house.”Fyffe-Marshall disputed the police statement, saying they were detained for 45 minutes and were surrounded by seven police cars. She went on to claim in the post that officers demanded they put their hands up, locked down the neighborhood and accused them of lying about staying in the Airbnb.Jasmine Rand, one of the lawyers representing the three renters who plan to sue, told ABC News that a lawsuit has not yet been filed but that legal action against the police department is imminent. Rand wouldn’t elaborate on the details of the legal actions they’re planning to take at this point.Rand confirmed that the three people involved in the lawsuit are black, including two females and one male.“You want to laugh about this but it’s not funny. The trauma is real. I’ve been angry, frustrated and sad,” Fyffe-Marshall wrote in her Facebook post about the incident. She could not be reached for further comments on the case.Fyffe-Marshall along with Donisha Prendergast and Komi-Oluwa Olafimihan are the three individuals from the incident who will be involved in the forthcoming litigation.Hardin cannot confirm if the individuals were targeted based on their race because he “can’t get into the reporting party’s head,” but he did confirm with ABC News that the call was made from a white woman who did not recognize the people in the driveway across the street.In regards to the conflicting timeline provided by Fyffe-Marshall, Hardin explained that the times provided in the department’s statement are based on their computerized dispatch system where all times are logged.The dispatch of the patrol helicopter and securing a perimeter is standard procedure for any in-progress felony, Hardin told ABC News.The Rialto Police Department said in a statement that they’re “confident officers treated the involved individuals with dignity, respect, and professionalism.”The four people in question were cooperative throughout the encounter, Hardin said. The department is preparing for legal action by preserving all evidence of the call, including the recordings from the responding officers’ body cameras.An Airbnb spokesperson told ABC News in a statement that what happened “is unconscionable and a reminder of how far we still have to go as a society,” and believes that this was an issue with a neighbor who’s not a member of the Airbnb community.In a letter to Rialto’s mayor and interim police chief, Airbnb’s senior advisor and director of national partnerships state that they’re “deeply disturbed by the public reports suggesting that the police department’s response was dictated by the guests’ race,” and called for a meeting to “ensure that these kinds of incidents do not happen again.”Airbnb has also reached out to the victims to express their sympathy and full support, the statement said.This all comes at a time of heightened tensions between minority communities and law enforcement agencies across America. Just last month the arrest of two black men at a Philadelphia Starbucks sparked a firestorm after they were accused of trespassing because they had not purchased anything.Rand will be co-counseling the case with Benjamin Crump, a civil rights attorney known for his work representing Trayvon Martin’s family and most recently the family of Stephon Clark.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

‘It was nothing short of a miracle’: Charter boat captain recounts rescue of man stranded 36 hours at sea

first_imgU.S.C.G. Southeast via TwitterBY: BILL HUTCHINSON, ABC NEWS(MIAMI) — When Capt. Chase Cornell noticed a blip on the radar of the charter boat he was operating off the coast of Florida, he said he initially thought it signaled it was going to be a good day of fishing for his six passengers.As he maneuvered his boat, dubbed the Southern Eagle, toward where the radar was directing him and instructed his crew to ready fishing rods to cast, Cornell said a chill went up his spine as he realized the blip in the Atlantic Ocean about 20 miles offshore from Fort Pierce, Florida, was a lone man clinging to the tip of a capsized vessel.“For us to cross paths, it was nothing short of a miracle,” Cornell told ABC South Florida affiliate station WPBF-TV.He said the early morning deep-sea fishing trip on Friday suddenly became a dramatic rescue of the stranded boater.“As we got closer, I saw the gentleman raise his hand up and start waving at me,” Cornell said. “And that’s when I knew we weren’t fishing anymore. We were actually there to rescue somebody.”Cornell said he immediately ordered his crew to put down the fishing rods and get up to the bridge.Crew members Robert Lynch and Jack Hendrix said the sight of the castaway in the middle of the ocean will stick with them forever.“Next thing you know, Chase is upstairs saying, ‘It’s a person! Help him! It’s a person,’” Hendrix recalled in the interview with WPBF.Lynch added, “You have to help. And that’s just what we were doing.”Lynch said he grabbed a life preserver and tossed it to the man, who dove onto the ring.Cornell and his crew said that when they got the man, who was wearing a life jacket, aboard their 18-foot boat, he recounted a harrowing journey that started in Bimini, Bahamas, two days earlier.“I’m on the bow talking to him, and I got a little bit of brief information: how long he’d been out there if there were others or not,” Lynch said.He said the rescuee, a Jamaican national whose name has not been released, told the crew he was with six fellow passengers who remain lost at sea after they were all thrown overboard when their vessel flipped over in rough waters. Lynch said the man told him and his crewmates that he’d been in the water for about 36 hours and had drifted more than 100 miles north.“He was very, very weak, so we got him a bunch of fluids, food, basically anything we could for him,” Hendrix said.Cornell said he and the crew, including boat owner Peter Busch, realized the man had also been floating in gasoline that leaked from the overturned boat.“His skin was really burned. His clothes were soaked and drenched in gasoline,” said Cornell, adding that he and his crew cleaned him up with soap and fresh water and wrapped him in blankets as they waited for a U.S. Coast Guard rescue ship to arrive.The Coast Guard announced on Monday that it had suspended the search for the six people who were in the boat with the man. The Coast Guard said the lone survivor was recuperating at a hospital.Capt. JoAnn Burdian, commander of Coast Guard Sector Miami, said the search was suspended after rescue crews, including a Florida Wing Civil Air Patrol crew, spent more than 140 hours searching 10,694 miles of ocean.“The decision to suspend a search-and-rescue case is never one we come to lightly,” Burdian said in a statement. “We offer our deepest sympathies to the friends and families of those involved during this difficult time.”On the same day the crew of the Southern Eagle rescued the man, the Coast Guard also launched a second search for 10 people believed to be Cuban migrants who were thrown off a 6-foot homemade vessel constructed of Styrofoam and wood. A good Samaritan boater discovered the empty makeshift vessel adrift off the Florida Keys.Coast Guard officials said the Cubans set sail from Havana on Friday.The search was suspended on Monday evening after rescue crews unsuccessfully searched for about 86 hours, combing an area of roughly 12,300 square miles, according to the Coast Guard.Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.last_img read more