A Versace executive said he was stopped and searched by police officers while walking in Beverly Hills last week because he is Black, an incident that police said was due to a jaywalking offense.
The Beverly Hills Police Department said Salehe Bembury, the vice president of Sneakers and Men’s Footwear for Versace, was stopped for jaywalking near the city’s famed luxury shopping district.
“Beverly Hills Police conducted a pedestrian enforcement stop at Camden Drive and Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills after Mr. Salehe Bembury was observed committing a pedestrian violation,” the police department said in its release.
Body camera video released by the police department on Friday shows the encounter between Bembury and the officers on October 1. When officers approach him and asked Bembury why he jaywalked, he admits, “I jaywalked, I don’t know what to say.”
An officer then proceeds to ask him for his ID, asks him to put his arms behind his back and searches him. Bembury is also asked if he has any weapons to which he responds, “I do not.”
Bembury tells the officer he feels “nervous” and “uncomfortable,” and attempts to explain that the Versace shopping bag he is carrying contains a pair of shoes he designed.
“What’s unfortunate is like, I literally designed the shoes that are in this bag,” Bembury says in the video.
After a few moments, Bembury tells the officer he would like to record the interaction on his cell phone.
Bembury later posted the video on his Instagram account on October 1 with the caption, “BEVERLY HILLS WHILE BLACK. I’M OK, MY SPIRIT IS NOT.”
He says in the video, “I’m in Beverly Hills right now and I’m getting *expletive* searched for shopping at the store I work for and just being black.” An officer responds, “you’re making a completely different narrative.”
Bembury was released with a warning after a detention which lasted about three and a half minutes, according to the police department. A citation was not issued.
“Mr. Bembury admitted to the pedestrian violation and told the officers he was looking at the GPS on his phone to determine where he was heading,” the police department said in the release.
Two days after the incident, he posted a portion of the body camera video released by the police department with the caption, “Fear.”
Donatella Versace posted a copy of Bembery’s video on her Instagram account in support of the shoe designer, saying she is “appalled” by the actions of the police officers.
“I am appalled this happened to Salehe Bembury today,” she wrote. “He has been a consultant at Versace for a long time and the behavior he experienced is totally unacceptable. He was stopped on the street solely for the color of his skin. Stay strong @salehebembury. Sending you love and support.”
Attorney Ben Crump, who also shared the body camera video on Tuesday, questioned if police would have treated him differently if he were white.
“Would they have treated a jogging white woman in Beverly Hills the same way?” Crump wrote in a tweet.
In a statement to CNN, the Beverly Hills Police Department denied Bembury was racially profiled by officers, saying it “does not protect the public based on race.”
“Mr. Bembury, as confirmed in the full 3 ½ minute body camera video, was stopped due to a pedestrian violation. The department is committed to full transparency and released the full 3 ½ minute body camera video within 24 hours,” Police Lt. Max Subin said.
Reached by CNN on Tuesday about the detention, Bembury said he had no further comment.