Los Angeles police arrested journalist Jasmyne Cannick while covering a protest against police brutality the night before Thanksgiving 2014, twisting the truth to accuse her of leading a throng of protesters across an imaginary police “skirmish line,” then claiming in their reports that she became so aggressive, they had to push her back.
But the charges were dropped a year later when police and prosecutors were unable to find evidence to back their claims, even though she had been among 150 protesters – many with cameras whose footage ended up as evidence – who were detained after police boxed them in from all sides.
One video shows her willfully walking with police as they lead her away on three charges of resisting arrest.
It was the first and only arrest in Cannick’s life, a 39-year-old native Angeleno who has spent more than a decade in the Southern California public eye, either as a journalist, radio personality, political consultant or press secretary.
Now Cannick is suing the department, claiming she was arrested in retaliation for a series of articles she wrote that were critical of the Los Angeles Police Department on her blog, especially of LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, who has proven to be very thin-skinned against her criticism.
And especially in regards to his daughter, an LAPD mounted police officer whose naked photos are probably still floating around the department.
The lawsuit filed earlier this month states that Beck – who has known Cannick for years – made eye contact with her the night of her arrest on November 26, 2014, but refused to acknowledge her, allowing her to be transported to jail.
Beck meanwhile allowed the release of all the other journalists that had been swept up in a mass detainment during the third day of protests against the Missouri grand jury decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson a week earlier.
Beck even gave an impromptu press conference to the reporters covering the protest. Cannick said she was standing just a few feet away with the protesters who were being detained.
Cannick, who was covering the protest for a local radio station, described her arrest on her blog last year after they dropped her charges.
I was too busy recording audio, video and tweeting what was happening that I wound up in the back of the group therefore getting caught up the LAPD’s “kettling” of the protesters.
At the time it wasn’t a big deal to me because I assumed that like on the two preceding nights a dispersal order would be given and at that point I’d be on my way. The LAPD had other plans because I quickly found out that we were all under arrest.
Several television news reporters were also caught up the fray and I watched as the police allowed them to leave. I notified one of the officers that I was with a local radio station and they told me I couldn’t leave. I told the officer who completed my field interview that I was with a radio station covering the protests. She wrote it on my FI card and walked me over to where everyone was waiting to be taken to jail.
I ended up spending the night at the Van Nuys jail before being released on Thanksgiving.
The Los Angeles Times reported the following on her lawsuit:
Robert Stanford Brown, one of Cannick’s attorneys, said Beck allowed the arrest because he was upset about her stories on her website, including one in which she revealed that the LAPD had purchased a horse from Beck’s daughter.
“She has written some very embarrassing material about the leadership of the LAPD,” Brown said.
Chief Beck Proved to be Liar
One of the most embarrassing stories was one Cannick broke on her blog on August 3, 2014 about Beck approving the purchase of a $6,000 horse from his daughter, Brandi Pearson, who was then allowed to ride the horse as a mounted police officer. The deal also meant the LAPD paid for the horse’s medical needs and board.
It was a sweet deal for Pierson who was able to have her cake and eat it too.
The Los Angeles Times followed up on the story the next day, interviewing Beck, who insisted he recused himself from the decision to purchase the horse from his daughter for his daughter to ride at work.
“I feel I will be vindicated,” Beck told members of the department’s police commission, according to a Los Angeles Times article published August 5, 2014, where he expressed anger towards Cannick’s reporting.
Much of Beck’s anger seemed aimed at Jasmyne Cannick, a local political consultant. In recent weeks, Cannick has published on her personal website several reports about the sergeant’s case, the horse purchase and other internal LAPD matters.
Beck angrily ticked off several allegations Cannick has made about his daughter that he said were “absolutely false.”
“I’m a big guy, I’ve been doing this a long time,” Beck said. “If you want to say something false about me, I’m fine with that…. But to say things that are absolutely false, with no basis in fact, about my children is absolutely unacceptable. I find it disgusting.”
Cannick defended her reporting, which has been based on anonymous sources, saying, “When I have five or six people all telling me the same thing, all corroborating the same story, it can’t be false.”
“Chief Beck’s anger,” she continued, “should not be directed toward me. His anger, or his reflection, should be turned inward.”
On August 6, 2014, the Los Angeles Times reported that it had obtained a signed document proving Beck did, in fact, approve the sale.
So no, he was never vindicated, which explains why he would allow Cannick to be arrested three months later.
He was probably also peeved about Cannick exposing a sex scandal within the department involving the chief’s daughter and a male sergeant named Gregory Hoopes, who leaked naked photos of her after she denied having sex with him during an investigation about him having sex with other female cops.
That story, which alleged that Beck did not discipline Hoopes after learning that his daughter was involved, was followed by the Los Angeles Times the next day.
So it’s no surprise that Beck would take out his anger on a high-ranking LAPD officer whom he suspected of leaking info to Cannick.
Chief Beck Sued by Fellow Cop
Los Angeles Police Commander Patrick Smith filed a lawsuit earlier this year, claiming the chief retaliated against him because he suspected him of tipping Cannick off.
Smith, who denies tipping Cannick off, said the chief based his suspicions on the fact that he and Cannick are both black.
On her blog, Cannick said she has many sources within the department, but Smith is not one of them, listing several stories she broke with the help of those sources – which no doubt infuriated Beck even more.
I don’t know Commander Smith. He could walk up to me right now and I wouldn’t know who the man is.
I have a lot of sources, but he’s not one of them. And for the record, when I say I have a lot of sources, I have sources from floors 1 through 10 of LAPDHQs and throughout every single division and beyond. So good luck Beck and team with trying to pin down even oneof my sources. If what is alleged in this lawsuit really happened—and I have no reason to believe that it didn’t—my sources and I can rest easy because these folks are idiots.
Two weeks later, Cannick addressed Beck at a police commission meeting, accusing him of having her followed to find out who is leaking information to her.
“As I’ve said before, Chief Beck. You’re obsession with me is unhealthy. It is both sad and unhealthy.
It is costing the city of Los Angeles millions of dollars not to mention doing nothing to aid in the fight against crime in Los Angeles.
In closing, stop worrying about who is talking to me instead of why they are talking to me.”
Cannick’s lawsuit, which can be read here alleges LAPD violated her First and Fourth Amendment rights, leaving her with mental and emotional distress.
Besides Beck, the lawsuit lists Los Angeles Police Sergeant Raul Pedroza as a defendant, alleging that he admitted to recognizing her as a member of the media, but did not allow her to leave with the other journalists. A cop named Martinez is also named who was the arresting officer.
The suit accuses LAPD of “slapping bogus criminal charges to attempt to silence a journalist in retaliation for news reports and articles that she has written, which were critical of or unfavorable to the LAPD or its leadership.”
Earlier this year Cannick broke a story when a Los Angeles sheriff’s deputy pulled a gun on a private investigator, which we followed here on PINAC.
The first video below is of a local news report on her arrest.
The second video shows her being led away to jail at 2:15 in the video below.
The third video is where she addresses Beck during a police commissioner meeting, telling him to stop being so obsessive over her as people in the audience laugh and the chief fumes.
The fourth video contains more than 20 minutes of footage from the protests, including Beck speaking to reporters.
PINAC reporter Joshua Brown contributed to this report.