Student sues LA, LAPD for handling of rape case

A former USC student has filed a lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Police Department for their handling of his rape case. The case was no longer pursued by the L.A. County district attorney’s office.

Armaan Premjee, the former student, alleges civil rights violations, malicious prosecution, negligence and false imprisonment by the city and LAPD. Police Chief Charlie Beck and two LAPD detectives were named as defendants in the case.

Vicki Sarmiento, Premjee’s civil rights attorney, said Premjee should have never been arrested nor prosecuted, claiming that the police department violated federal and state law.

“There was a rush to arrest him and once you arrest someone with that kind of charge you’re already putting that person in a bad light,” Sarmiento said. “It’s a heinous crime to be charged with.”

In March, USC’s Office of Equity and Diversity found Premjee responsible for policy violations after conducting its own investigation into the sexual assault charges. Premjee was later expelled from USC, according to Sarmiento and the brief.

USC was not mentioned as a defendant in this suit.

In May 2017, Premjee pleaded not guilty to a count of rape by use of drugs and a count of sexual penetration with a foreign object, after an alleged incident with a fellow student on campus. In July, the district attorney’s office decided to not continue pursuing a criminal case against Premjee after a judge ruled that he would not be held to answer.

“There is no indication of any withdrawal of consent,” the judge wrote in his ruling.

In the brief, Premjee claims that LAPD detectives Oscar Gamino and Carla Zuniga, acted “with a deliberate indifference to or reckless disregard for an accused’s rights for the truth in withholding evidence from prosecutors” and “suppressed exculpatory evidence.”

In addition, Premjee claims that the detectives withheld video evidence showing the alleged victim’s intent to pursue sexual relations with him, and that they failed to show this footage to witnesses during questioning.

“They had the video camera footage from the very start,” Premjee said. “They suppressed evidence that could have basically changed my life.”

The lawsuit also claims that Gamino and Zuniga “improperly influenced” the alleged victim and her roommates through “suggestive questioning.” The alleged victim’s roommates served as witnesses in the case.

In March, the alleged victim said in an interview with the Daily Trojan that she “couldn’t have possibly gave consent,” and that she did not pursue criminal charges against Premjee.

The lawsuit states that Premjee now faces humiliation and that he has “suffered greatly from the being unable to pursue his academic studies and the stigma of an unsubstantiated rape charge.”

“My professional life will definitely be impacted for the rest of my life,” Premjee said.

The LAPD declined to comment. The Los Angeles City Attorney’s office did not immediately respond to request for comment. USC’s Office of the Registrar did not immediately confirm Premjee’s status at the University.