SANTA MONICA—On Wednesday, November 18, Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks of the Santa Monica Police Department, released a statement defending the actions of her officers in an event that occurred back in September.
The incident happened on Sunday, September 6, when police were called around 11:16 p.m., and told of a possible burglary. Fay Wells had arrived home to discover that she had accidentally locked herself out of her home. Wells contacted a locksmith in order to gain access to her home.
At the same time that Wells and the locksmith were conferring, a neighbor of Wells witnessed the exchange and contacted 911 to report a break-in. The suspects were described to police officers as Hispanic. The mistaken identity was attributed to the fact that it was dark outside.
Seabrooks claims that officers responded to the burglary, which is considered a felony. A total of 17 officers made their way to Wells home. By the time the police had arrived, Wells had made it safely into her home and the locksmith had already departed. Wells reported that she had gone to check a noise when she saw a man in front of her window with a gun. The officer demanded for Wells to exit the premises with both her hands up.
Officers proceeded to inform Wells of the protocol and tried to explain to her the reason so many officers were summoned to the residence. It was reported that the neighbor who called the authorities later visited Wells’ resident after the media blitz deescalated explaining what transpired.
Wells went on to write and report the incident to the Washington Post. In her writing, she claimed the reason the incident took place was because she was black and the neighbor who had called the authorities was white.
Seabrooks defended the action of her officers and urged the public to try to understand the situation. In her statement, Seabrooks informed the public that: “As a Black woman born and raised in South-Central Los Angeles, I empathize with Ms. Fay Wells and how this experience has made her feel. On the other hand, as an experienced law enforcement executive, I understand the Police Department’s response and the need for that response.”
“From my perspective, the 911 caller was not wrong for reporting what he believed was an in-progress residential burglary. Put yourself in his place. Ms. Wells is not wrong to feel as she does. Put yourself in her shoes. And, the Santa Monica Police Department’s response was not wrong. Put yourself in the officers’ shoes,” said Seabrooks.