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Family of Durham man, wrongfully arrested in LA, allege racial profiling

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Charles Belk posted this picture of his arrest on Facebook.  It has now been shared tens of thousands of times. Charles Belk posted this picture of his arrest on Facebook. It has now been shared tens of thousands of times.
DURHAM, N.C. - A Durham man, who was arrested in Los Angeles for a crime he did not commit, is speaking out about an incident he believes was a case of racial profiling.

Charles Belk, 51, was arrested on Friday in Beverly Hills, accused of being an accomplice in a string of armed robberies. Belk, who is a graduate of Durham's Hillside High School and who now works in TV production, was detained for hours before police decided they had the wrong man.

"The description that I fit, apparently, was a tall, black bald-headed male," Belk told MSNBC's Joy Reid on Wednesday.  "And I'm going to be that, so it's hard to kind of getaway from that description."

In a statement, Beverly Hills Police said they regretted the "inconvenience," but said "based on witness accounts, and his location close to the bank, officers properly detained and arrested him."

A suspect is still at large in the case.

Belk's family, back home in Durham, told WNCN they were shocked to hear he had been arrested.

"I couldn't believe it," Charles Belk's mother Johnnie Belk said, "and when I saw the picture of him sitting on the curb with handcuffs on, I was just blown out. I just couldn't believe this was my son."

Now Belk says he's hopes police and other black men learn from an experience that he calls life changing.

"One, we don't all fit the description, two, there is a sense of trying to give a voice to all the black males out there that have not had that voice either because their lives were taken or because they weren't afforded the resources that I was lucky to have."

Belk's family said he is weighing his legal options.

Copyright WNCN 2014. All rights reserved.

Derick Waller

Derick is a reporter for WNCN covering crime, education, politics and just about everything in between. He has a knack for adapting to any story and consistently delivers information quickly across multiple platforms. More>>

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