A black California youth leader says he woke up last week at 4 a.m. they were looking for

Derrick Cooper, 54, said when he was wrongfully detained on April 18, he felt «less than human» and «humiliated.»

“They didn’t value me as a human being,” he said Tuesday. “Just to walk in and blatantly take me out of my safe place and put me in a place where I am helpless and in fear for my life, is one of the worst things imaginable.”

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said deputies from the Compton station were dispatched to an attempted robbery call near the facility of the LA City Wildcats, a youth sports academy Cooper has run for 27 years. Cooper’s apartment is in the same building, he said.

Cooper was taken into custody at the facility but was later determined not to be a suspect and released, the sheriff’s department said in a statement.

Derrick Cooper, 54, said when he was wrongfully detained on April 18, he felt «less than human» and «humiliated.»Los Angeles

‘Please don’t shoot me’

Cooper said he initially thought he was dreaming when he heard three officers yelling at him in his room, turning lights on him early in the morning.

When he realized what was happening, he said: «I just went into survival mode.»

“I’m like, ‘Either they’re here to kill me or I’ve done something I don’t know about,’” he said. «I said: ‘I am unarmed, I live alone, please don’t shoot me.'»

The deputies ordered him to stand up and walk towards them, and he told them that he would comply but that he was naked from the waist down. He asked to put on underwear or pants but was told he couldn’t.

“As much as I wanted to reach for something to cover myself, I knew that if I did, it wouldn’t be good for me. So as embarrassed as I was, I chose to be ashamed to live another day,” she said.

Then they handcuffed him. Cooper said he repeatedly asked, «Why are you arresting me?» but he was never told why.

The agents escorted him out of his home, into the business part of his building and out the door, he said.

«I thought [a deputy] I was going to say, ‘Sit down, take cover, let me tell you why we’re here. That didn’t happen,» Cooper said. «This is not right. He walked me out of my building onto Compton Boulevard with no shoes, no socks» and the lower half of his body exposed.

They put him in a police car for about 20 minutes and he said he heard the radio dispatch say: “They are in the wrong building. She let him go.»

The sheriff’s department declined to comment on whether deputies had arrived at the wrong address. He said: «The Compton Station is fully investigating the incident.»

Soon after, the officers apologized and Cooper ran back to his building, he said.

“I am exposed. I’m already embarrassed. I went in and sat there for a long time thinking, ‘I can’t believe this is happening,’” she said.

Cooper reviewed security camera video from the exterior and interior of his building and discovered that the agents had entered through the mail slot and unlocked two deadbolts to open the door.

Cooper’s attorney, Jaaye Person-Lynn, said he and Cooper reviewed security video from an hour before officers arrived and saw no one loitering in the area, let alone a robbery suspect.

Accountability demands

Person-Lynn said they still aren’t sure why the agents contacted Cooper.

“We have not received any information, such as 911 calls or any other information related to that call. So at this point, we’re still not sure what actually led to the officers showing up,” he said.

The ordeal has shaken Cooper.

“It is difficult to sleep at night. I am taking it day by day. Some days are good. Some days they aren’t,” she said.

He also hasn’t been able to be active at his youth academy, where he coaches basketball, soccer, cheerleader, dance and percussion.

“The biggest disappointment I’m dealing with right now is that I can’t get involved with the kids in the community I serve,” she said. “I mentally can’t give them that service right now. This is so unfair to me. Because all I ever wanted to do in life was do what somebody did for me, give me a chance to be a kid, give me a chance to make memories, and give me a chance to be a productive citizen.»

Now, Cooper wants responsibility.

You want law enforcement to have the proper training to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again, and you want to hear from the sheriff’s office.

“It’s been a week since this happened to me, and no one reached out and even showed any kind of empathy or sympathy for what happened to me from their apartment. That is just unacceptable,” she said.

A claim is filed; planned protest

Person-Lynn, the attorney, said he filed a lawsuit Monday against the sheriff’s department for damages on Cooper’s behalf. She claims various violations of Cooper’s civil rights, as well as negligent training, negligent supervision, assault, false imprisonment, and false arrest.

In California, a government claim must first be filed before a lawsuit can be filed, he said.

A peaceful protest and justice march has been organized for May 7, when protesters will march on Compton City Hall and the Compton Sheriff’s Station to demand justice for Cooper.

“I will not rest until justice is done with this. He’s so much bigger than me,» Cooper said. “I want to speak for those who were killed in their homes by the police and couldn’t speak. If God is going to use me in that capacity, so be it. I accept it.»

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