Compton community leader mistakenly detained by L.A. County deputies demands answers

A Compton community leader wants accountability from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department after deputies broke into his home and wrongfully detained him. 

On April 18, 2023, deputies burst into the home of Derrick Cooper, 55, at around 4 a.m. with their weapons drawn. They handcuffed him and hauled him outside while he was still naked from the waist down.

Cooper was sleeping and said he was shocked waking up to “guns and flashlights in my face” as deputies ordered him to get out of bed. 

“They looked at me, saw a black man laying in the bed, buck naked and said, ‘We got a criminal here,” Cooper said. “Thank God they didn’t shoot me because that’s exactly what I was thinking the whole time.”

Cooper, who was only wearing a shirt at the time, said he asked if he could put on some pants or clothing to cover himself but was denied by authorities. 

He was walked over to a police car parked on Compton Boulevard where he was placed inside and detained.

“When I was in the police car, I’m sitting there and I hear the dispatch on the radio say, ‘You’re at the wrong building. That’s not the person that we’re looking for. Let him go.’”

Deputies later confirmed they had been searching for a burglary suspect at the wrong address.

At the time of his arrest, Cooper was the founder and operator of L.A. City Wildcats Youth Academy, a program that provides mentorship and activities to inner-city children.

A year later, Cooper said he is still waiting for answers as to why the incident, which he described as humiliating and a violation of his rights, happened the way it did.

“It’s been one year and nothing has changed,” Cooper said. “Nothing has changed. I want accountability.”

LASD said they received a call about a burglary near Cooper’s home, but Cooper said no calls were ever made by him to authorities. There were also no legal warrants or complaints against him at the time, according to his attorneys.

“Obviously, these deputies weren’t trained properly,” Cooper said. “You don’t put your hand through the mailbox and unlock the front door and say, ‘It’s okay to go in. Let’s search it now.’ If there’s not a broken door, a broken window, no forced entry then keep your butt out! You have no right to go in and just take over.”

He recalls feeling frightened about making the wrong move and potentially being killed. 

“The first thing that went through my mind was Breonna Taylor, all of these people that have died in their apartments because the police came into their dwellings,” Cooper said.

The incident has left him shaken and he has filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department claiming, among other things, illegal home entry by deputies and a violation of his civil rights.

Cooper said no one from the sheriff’s department has offered an apology for the intrusion.

“I’m going to raise hell until somebody listens and someone says, ‘That’s not policing, that’s not law enforcement,” he said.

Back in 2023, Cooper spoke on the shock and indignation he felt saying, “I just can’t believe this happened to me. My dignity, you know? You parade me out here on Compton Boulevard with no underwear. Don’t you have any compassion? I’m a Black man trying to do something positive, trying to be a part of something that’s going to leave a legacy for my family, in my community and it was almost taken away from me just like that, and all I get is, ‘I’m sorry, we’ve got the wrong building.’ It’s unacceptable, man. I am a human being.”

In May 2023, loved ones and community members peacefully marched along Compton Boulevard to raise awareness and demand justice for Cooper. Marchers also hoped the movement would bring attention to the issue and prevent a similar incident from happening to others. 

LASD officials previously said the incident remained under investigation. However, Cooper said no one from the department has ever contacted him since or provided a thorough explanation of what truly happened that night.

KTLA reached out to LASD for comment but has yet to receive a response.

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