This is a long message, please take the time to read it before you make your decisions.
On December 26th 2013 at 9:30pm, I was driving home from work. I purchaced a pizza pie from a local pizzaria so my wife wouldn't have to cook. She was still adjusting to the mother's life, our only son was only 5 months old at the time. Just before I got home, a police cruiser pulled behind my car and was following me very closely. We both stopped at a red light. When it turned green, and just after I started making the last turn before I got home, lights started flashing. Being less than a half, block from home, I put my hazard lights on and slowly drove to, and backed into, my parking space. I then turned off my car, and headlights, turned on the interior lights and waited to see what the issue was.
The officer didn't approach my car immediately (remember, I backed into my spot. His car was now in front of mine and mine was off). Instead, he called for me to get my license and registration. This struck me as odd, even if I did have my information ready, how would he get it from way over there? I told him it would be a little bit, I hadn't needed my registration papers since I bought the car and now it was buried under many miscelaneous papers. This is when he approached my car. He asked me again for my papers, and again I told him I was looking for them. When I found them, I offered it to him, but he woudn't take them. Instead, he asked me to roll my window all the way down. This, again, was a weird and unecessary request. The window was just over a quarter of the way down and it was December. Even in Florida, the nights get pretty cold. So I asked him, "Why did you pull me over, officer?". A seemingly innocent question, right?
Wrong! He responded with "Because I wanted to, now step out of the vehicle!". WHAT? This can't be happening! I have no criminal record, my registration is current (not that he would know any of that, he refused to take my papers), and I definitely don't have a busted tail light. So I responded " 'Because I want to' isn't a legal reason to pull someone over, let alone ask them out of a car. Can you tell me why you pulled me over?"
"This isn't up for debate, step out of the car." Now, he's being very hostile, I'm still sitting there wondering why. He won't take my papers, he wants me out of the car, and he won't take my papers. What's the deal?
"Sir, I don't feel comfortable getting out of the car when I don't even know why you're here. Why do you need me to step out of the car? I'm not a criminal and my papers are all legal."
"You know what? One way or another, I'm getting you out of the car. What's the name of this complex?"
I told him and he walked around to the back of my car to check my license plates and call for back-up. Now, I'm worried, fearful, and annoyed. It was cear to me that this officer was looking for some action, and he wasn't leaving without it. Being from a place where racial profiling is the norm and police brutality goes by unpunished, New York City, I took the few seconds I grabbed and set up my cell phone to record the rest of the situation. I'll let the video tell the next few bits of the story. I apologize in advance for your coming neck pain. http://youtu.be/PIjBjZrJN5U
As you can see and hear, while I tried to remain as calm, courteous, and respectful as the situation would allow, the officer only grew more and more hostile as the the encounter progressed. So much so, that I requested he physically changed places with another officer who didn't look like he wanted to slam my head into the ground. I even tried revealing that I was a military veteran, hopefully that would calm him down a bit, we're on the same side. That cleary wasn't heppening, but you do hear another officer assure me that no physical harm would come to me. I took his word for it (silly me), grabbed my phone (now a camcorder) so I could continue recording from outside the car and openned the car door.
As you can hear, the aggressive officer immidiately grabbed me by the collar and tried to yank me out of the car. I asked him to let me go, I was already cooperating and that hostility was the reason I didn't want to get out of the car in the first place. Even so, I let go of the frame of my car and accepted my fate. I was getting beat up tonight, there's no denying that. The officer then slammed me onto the ground, making sure that my head made full contact with the curb on the way down.
He got on top of me and demanded I give him my arm (so he could handcuff me). I couldn't. He was intentionally pinning that arm to the ground with his knee and he knew it. For almost two minutes, he would elbow me in the back of the head (elbows don't leave bruises or bumps as easily), knee me in the ribs and kept yelling for me to give him my arm. Then it started to make sense. As the stars flashed behind my eyelids after every strike, I realized that we are between two parked cars. No one can see us. As far as anyone else can tell, I'm fighting this officer on the ground. So I just laid there and shouted as loud as I could , "YOU'RE PINNING MY ARM TO THE GROUND!! QUIT PUNCHING ME!!" He stops and you can start to hear the mumbles and murmurs of the neighbors as they start to discuss what's happening. The officer realized that playtime is over and cuffs me. When he gets me off the ground, I could see the mischevous grins on two of the officers' faces. The third one, the one who said I would'nt be harmed, just stood there almost in disbelief. Maybe he was new, I don't know.
I spent the night in jail and the next day at the Veterans Hospital getting treated for the scraped and bruises from the incident, and the rash I got from the clothes I was issued.
I spent all of my savings in the coming months, half went to my lawyer, and the other went to moving. I couldn't trust the area. We'd only been there a year and here's what I learned. Not only had we been living in the worst part of town, I couldn't even trust the local police department to be able to tell the difference between a citizen and criminal. So we not only left the city, we left to county, turning a 2 minute commute into a 45 minute one. I couldn't even trust them to provide an accurate police report.
___________________________________________________________I don't have a scanner, and I'll provide the original document when I get a chance, but here's the arresting officer's account of the situation, typos and all. Out of respect for the officers (why I still have any is mystery) I omitted their names from the report.
Agency: SPPD Case Number: 2013-078003
Report Type: OBSTRUCTING OFFICER
OFFICER'S ACTION AND OBSERVATION
On the above date and time I was traveling sounth bound on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Street South free of any obstruction. I observed a godl in color Ford Taurus tag # [my tag here] traveling south bound a few yards in front of me, at a high rate of speed sweaving in and out lanes. I got behind the vehicle at the intersection of 22nd Avenue and Dr Martin Luther King Jr Street South. The vehicle turned west on 22nd Avenue South and I attempted the traffic stop. The vehicle continued traveling then turned into the Lakeview Apartments Complex located at 976 22nd Avenue Souh and continued traveling through the parking lot while my emergency lights were activated. The driver quicky turned the vehicle east into a parking space then place the vehicle in reverse and backed it up into another parking space across the parking lot, while my vehicle remained stop facing south. I exited my marked patrol cruiser and walked towards the vehicle and I noticed the driver staring at me with a blank stare as he continued revving the engine louder and louder. I thought by his actions the subject was going to attempt to hit me with his car.
I quicly returned to my vehicle and obtained cver using my vehicle as a safety shield. I yelled for the driver to turn the vehicle off and let his window down. After several verbal commands ther driver later identified as Curis Shannon turned the vehicle off and slightly cracked the driver side window. I advised Ofc. [#2] via radio to respond to my location, and Ofc [#2] and Ofc. [#3] arrived to the scene. I approached the vehicle and asked Shannon for his Driver license and registration and he refused to provide them to me. I asked several additional times and Shannon refused. I advised Shannon that he was under arrest for Obstruction and that he was to unlock the door and exit the vehicle. A light complexion black woman, who advised she was Shannon's wife came outside the apartment and yelled "bae do what they're asking you to do."
Shannon advised that he would now provide me with his Driver license nd that he wasnt going to exit the car. Shannon then put his Driver License through a sightly cracked driver side window. Ofc. [#2] advised Shannon to exit the car and when Shannon unlocked and opened the door, I advised him that he was under arrest and he attempted to closed the door on me., and he began reaching for a unknown object in the passenger seat.
I reached inside the car and placed my hands on Shannon's left arm and attempted to pull him out of the car and he pulled away aggressively with force. Shannon then exited the car and charged towards me. Shannon pushed me in my chest causing me to lose my balance as I stilhad a hold of his triceps, which help me regain my balance. I then pushed Shannon away from me and advised him "to stop resisting". Shannon then attempted to charge towards me again and I escorting Shannon to a the ground using an armbar takedown maneuver.
While on the ground Shannon continued to resist as I attempted to place, my department issued hand cuffs on his arms, as I yelled for him to "stop resisting and place you hands behind your back". Ofc [#2] abd Ofc [#3] were unable to assist me in detaining Shannon because we were on the ground between a set of closely parked cars.
After a brief struggle I as able to place Shannon under arrest and transported him to the rear of the Police Station and place him in the Transport Van without incident. Shannon vehicle was searched with negative results, and Shannon advised that he wish to speak to my sergeant. Sgt.[#4] was notified of the arrest and spoke to Shannon.
i completed a Traffic Citation# A0O5HKP for Careless Driving, and a Use Of Force Form. I took no further action on this date. A State Attorney Invest will follow.
As you can see, not much of this report matches what you saw in the video. This was only one of the three false statements made by the officers there. I was initially charged with RESISTING/OBSTRUCTING WITH VIOLENCE, a felony. The charges were reduced to RESISTING/OBSRUCTING WITHOUT VIOLENCE, a misdemeanor. The lawyer cost was just shy of $2000, but that covers pretrial fees, I don't know how much the court costs will be should I decide to go that far. I am elligible for the PreTrial Intervention program. If I accept and complete the program, the case will be dismissed upon completion.
"Well why not do that?" you may be asking. Accepting the program requires an admission of guilt to the offense I've been accused of. Doing so eliminates any chance I have of filing a suit against the state and possibly changing the way the police behave in the city. That's why I've come here. For 8 months, I have been scraping by making sure we don't miss any bills or rent payments. We only have one car which prevents my wife from doing pretty much anything with our son while I'm at work. I was hesitant to set this page up because I'm not one to ask for help, not even from family. They've done all they can and now I come to you, the people. Help me get my family back on our feet. I was barely able to scrape enough to fund a small 1st Birthday party for my son, and now we're paying for that. Whatever you can give will be greatly appreciated and will be used to catch up on our bills and any future lawyer fees I may have to pay. If you have any questions or need more details, please feel free to ask.
Thank you for taking the time to read all this. If I can make a case with you, maybe we'll have the same luck in the justice system.