A Monrovia woman has filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, accusing deputies of using illegal “high risk” traffic stop tactics against her. The woman, Gabriela Koutantos, claims that deputies held her at gunpoint, forced her onto her knees, and handcuffed her without any valid reason.
The incident occurred on September 25, 2022, when Koutantos was driving a U-Haul cargo van with an Arizona license plate. Deputies pulled her over on Atlantic Boulevard near Hubbard Street in east Los Angeles, mistakenly believing that the vehicle might be stolen. The complaint filed in federal court alleges civil rights violations.
“The deputies detained Ms. Koutantos for a significant amount of time before informing her that they had pulled her over on suspicion of vehicle theft, only to later confirm that it was not stolen,” states the lawsuit. “Rather than subjecting her to these terrifying and traumatic tactics, the deputies could have simply asked her a few questions to obtain the same information.”
The lawsuit has been filed on behalf of Koutantos and her mother, Barbara Kappos. Kappos was accompanying her daughter in her own car as Koutantos drove the rented van back to a U-Haul location.
“Kappos witnessed LASD deputies holding her daughter at gunpoint, forcing her to the ground, violently handcuffing her, and detaining her in a police car,” said Brian Olney, the plaintiffs’ attorney.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has not yet provided a comment in response to the lawsuit.
The plaintiffs argue that the deputies were following the LASD’s “illegal and reckless” policy of using “high-risk” tactics during low-risk traffic stops for potential property crimes. In 2014, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this practice to be unconstitutional. However, the LASD continues to defy the court’s ruling and allegedly terrorizes and traumatizes innocent residents of Los Angeles, according to the plaintiffs’ attorneys.
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