Viral TikTok video shows tense arrest involving college student in South LA

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is investigating a "use of force" incident involving three young men who say they were racially profiled and targeted by deputies after their TikTok video went viral.

On Monday, the three 19-year-olds – Armond Johnson, Laron Delton and Jayvonte George – said they were walking to the store at West 103rd Street and Budlong Avenue in South Los Angeles at around 5:30 p.m. 

Earlier that morning, the three attended classes at Los Angeles Trade Technical College

"We walked around the corner to the store and we were walking and then we heard a car screech turning left, but it stopped. It hit the brakes hard so I turned around because it's kind of a dangerous neighborhood. I looked to see who it was and it was [LASD]," said Johnson. 

Johnson said the deputies rolled down the window to speak to them. 

"They told me first ‘Come here,’ really loud and aggressive, and I said, 'No, why do you want me? We are walking to the store and have no business with you,’" said Johnson. 

Johnson said the deputies then got out of the cruiser and approached them. Johnson started recording, and the video shows deputies walking up to George and grabbing him by the arms. 

"They didn't read him his rights at all. I'm still there recording and we're asking why are you arresting him," said Johnson. 

Video shows George with his hands in the air. 

"They're not telling me what I'm being detained or arrested for, and I got my hands up, and I've seen a lot of things about police brutality so I was trying to put my hands up for my safety and their safety also to show I wasn't doing nothing and I didn't have nothing on me," said Jayvonte George. 

The LA County Sheriff's Department said George matched the description of a suspect involved in a hit-and-run crash that morning, and said he also matched the description of a vehicle theft suspect. In a statement, the Department said the following, in-part: 

"The detaining deputies viewed surveillance footage of the hit-and-run collision and saw three suspects were involved." 

In the video, Johnson repeatedly asked for a sergeant and asked the deputies for their names and badge numbers. He said that eventually they were told about the deputies' suspicion of being involved in other crimes. 

"They tried to say at the end they were looking for somebody and we matched the description of someone who stole a car earlier that morning, but that's why we told them we were at school. I was just scared and I was praying they didn't do nothing to my friend," said Johnson.

Laron Delton, who was also there, called his mom, who came to the scene and tried to also ask the deputies for their badge numbers. 

"I had called my mother because we live around the corner and I called her and she was right on the way. It's unacceptable. That's sad to be a Black young man, can't walk to the store and scared of police. I haven't even been out of the house since then," said Delton. 

George described the encounter as "traumatizing." 

Video showed several more deputies arrive at the scene and eventually arrest George. 

"They continued to grab me, and then I still asked, and they finally said I was being detained, and a cop threatened to mace me if I didn't put my hands behind my back, so I complied and put my hands behind my back. Then they took me to the station. This whole time they did not read me my rights," said George. 

George said he called his mother at the station and told him that his rights were not read, and he said a short time later, an officer came up to him and read him his rights. 

"It was very traumatizing because now I don't even feel safe to walk around to the store," said George.

George was not charged in the hit-and-run or car thefts from Monday morning, but he was charged with resisting arrest. The LASD statement said the following:

"While attempting to detain the individual and resolve the detaining deputies’ reasonable suspicions he was one of the outstanding suspects involved in at least two separate crimes, the individual did not cooperate with deputies. The incident escalated resulting in a use of force. The suspect was arrested for resisting, obstructing, or delaying a peace officer (a violation of Penal Code Section 148(a))." 

Johnson said he believes the only reason they were stopped is because of their race. 

"It was definitely because we're all Black young men and the neighborhood we live in. That's still not an excuse for them because even though the neighborhood is corrupt, somewhat bad, you see us walking down the street not doing anything, hands weren't even in our pockets, we were walking, talking, going to the store and you want to pull up and do extra," said Johnson. 

George has a court date for resisting arrest on July 7. 

"I hope we get some justice and I feel like the officers shouldn't be able to patrol anymore because they're obviously not doing right," said George. 

The three men are hoping to file a lawsuit and are looking for a lawyer to represent them. 

"We're planning on suing the Sheriff's department and officers to let them know this is unacceptable. If we can push it further, we would like to see the officers terminated," said Johnson. 

The three men said one week prior, deputies tried stopping them when they were walking to the store but did not get out of the cruiser. 

"They [deputies] pulled up on us and they stopped and did the same thing but those officers didn't get out, we said we're walking to the store, what's the problem, and they're like oh alright," said Johnson. 

Delton said he has been stopped by police before too. 

"Police always stop me just to check a record or something. I have a clean record," said Delton. 

The following statement in full is from the LA County Sheriff's Department: 

"South Los Angeles Sheriff’s Station is aware of an encounter between a public member and South Los Angeles Station deputies which occurred on Monday, April 10, 2023. The video footage circulating on social media platforms was recorded by a bystander. The incident resulted in the public member’s arrest and a use of force.

The Department is aware of the media interest surrounding the video footage, which depicts a portion of the incident. Although the Sheriff’s Department does not comment on active criminal investigations, we want to ensure the public the Department is committed to the preservation of First Amendment rights and the right of the public to observe, photograph, or record in any public place they are lawfully allowed to be present.

The criminal investigation and use of force investigation is ongoing."