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Couple sues Fox Film Corp. alleging civil rights violation

Reportedly assaulted by security guards

City News Service | 8/21/2020, midnight

A Black couple are suing 20th Century Fox Film Corp., alleging they were harmed in 2018 amid a Highland Park film shoot by three security guards after coming to the aid of a young woman the couple believed was the victim of excessive force.

Malik Sykes and his girlfriend, Destiny Snelling, brought the complaint on Aug. 13 in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleging false imprisonment, assault and battery, negligence and civil rights violations. They are seeking unspecified damages.

A 20th Century Fox representative could not be immediately reached for comment on the suit, which alleges the guards “carelessly profiled and reacted'' to the plaintiffs because of their race.

“This lawsuit concerns the outrageous and unlawful use of force by private security guards against an African-American man ... who was assaulted and battered while doing nothing other than being a good Samaritan, while enjoying a beautiful day in the park with his lovely girlfriend,'' the suit states.

About 7 p.m. on Aug. 14, 2018, Sykes and Snelling were walking through Garvanza Park when they saw a Fox movie in production, according to their court papers. Sykes and Snelling met friends and were watching the scenes being filmed when they saw two young women fighting and yelling at each other, the suit states.

A security guard arrived and tackled one of the women to the ground, then lifted her up with his arm wrapped around her neck, brought her to the ground again and fell on top of her, the suit alleges. Sykes intervened and said to the guard, “You don't have to handle her like that,'' according to the suit.

Another guard then approached Sykes and Snelling from behind and grabbed Sykes by the waist, pushed him backward and aimed his stun gun at the plaintiff's face, the suit alleges.

Snelling got in front of Sykes and pushed him to increase the distance between him and the guards, according to the suit, which says Sykes told one of the guards that he wanted to talk to him and that he did not want to fight.

Shortly thereafter, one guard pepper-sprayed both plaintiffs as Sykes tried to shield Snelling from the substance, even though neither plaintiff posed a threat to the guard, the suit says.

Another guard approached Sykes from behind, put his arms around his neck and forced his knee into the back of the plaintiff, who began yelling, “Stop, that hurts,'' the suit says. Snelling tried to help Sykes, but was unable to do so, according to the complaint.

At one point, an unidentified man ran up and kicked Sykes in the face, but the guards did not try to apprehend the individual, the suit states. Sykes was later raised to the ground and handcuffed, according to the complaint.