L.A. Police Blame Budget Error in Arrest of Innocent Doctor

An error in how a Los Angeles Budget operator reported a stolen vehicle has made Budget Rent a Car an unwitting player in the city’s latest controversy involving the police department’s embattled Rampart Division.

The error in reporting the theft led to the February 11 arrest of Dr. Angelo E. Gousse, a urology specialist who teaches at the University of Miami’s medical school. Gousse has filed a claim against the city, accusing the arresting officers of racial profiling and handcuffing him so tightly that his wrists were seriously injured. According to Gousse’s claim, he is now unable to perform surgery or drive.

Last year, according to Budget Rent a Car, the Los Angeles location acquired two cars that were identical except for one digit in the vehicle identification numbers. When the license plates for the two cars arrived, they were switched on the cars in error. In July, when one of the cars was stolen, Budget informed the police of the theft, but the wrong plate number was listed for the stolen car.

Browne Greene, Gousse’s attorney, told the Los Angeles Times that the Rampart Division officers overreacted and could have cleared up the confusion with a phone call to Budget. “He had the rental car documents. He had documents that showed he was a doctor. They could have called Budget and settled this without any problems,” Greene told the Times.

The LAPD, however, has issued statements assert-ing that no racial profiling occurred and that officers followed procedure in investigating a felony stolen car case.

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