So I spoke with my attorney yesterday evening, he informed me that he is prepared to file the motions needed to give us the edge we need to win. Unfortunately, he didn't sound all that confident that it would work.
The prosecution, apparently realized that when he went to them to see what their potential plea deal would be should I decide to change my mind about going to trial (IMO that told them all they needed about my attorney's confidence in the case). They offered the same, deal they did before.
I take the plea, I'm on a path to a guaranteed "dismissal". If I don't, we go to trial, and my fate lands in the hands of the Jury. I did some research on the "demographic" (if that is the right term) for the jury participants in Pinellas County, and I didn't like what I saw. Most are older white people (a good 80% or so if I remember right). Of those, it is said that a good majority of them are what we call "cop sympathizers", people who believe the police can do no wrong no matter what the situation. That can, and most likely will, work against me when presenting them with evidence.
According to the attorneys I spoke with, and I spoke with a few, even though I know, and my wife knows, and they believe, I am not guilty of what they're accusing me of, the issue isn't what we know or believe. They like to reference Denzel Washington's "Training Day" quote;
"It's not what you know, it's what you can prove."
And they're right. As B.S.ey as it sounds, they obviously have a point, and I have to take that into consideration. My biggest issue, should I continue this fight, would be going to trial with an attorney who does not have faith in our defense. The prosecution would smell that and eat us alive. The chances of us winning aren't as good as I had hoped, especially since we couldn't get sworn testimony from the officer with the Deposition Motion.
I'm going to sit with my wife again and weigh the options. She has a way of reminding me who my decisions really effect.
Thanks again for all your help. If you have any other advice, or if you can find a good set of case-law that can help, feel free to leave a comment or message. My decision needs to be made by Monday.
So here's another update for everyone out there. I went to the deposition hearing this morning, we made no progress. The prosecution objected to the deposition motion because they feel I wasn't entitled to one since, they eventually did get the information out of Officer Johnson. They feel if we want a statement out of them as well, we should contact them directly just as they did and hear it directly from him.
The court date itself is still set to the 30th of this month. Hopefully the jury is as supportive as you all have been.
Now comes the hard part, getting them to see Johnson for who he really is; a lying, violent, power hungry man with no concern for the law or the people he was hired to protect.
Thank you all again for all your help and support.
I know it's been a while since the last update, but as you may remember, our laptop is busted so I can only update from the app and at work.
I got a call from my attorney. He told me the state attorneys have decided they won't be dropping the case against me. The trial date has been set to Oct 30 @ 830am. We are now going full steam against the state and intend on having their evidence thrown out because of the perjury committed by Officer Johnson. He claims there were events prior to and after the recording that led to him acting the way he did that night. He wouldn't disclose what those events were, but we'll find out soon.
Either way, if the the prosecution doesn't decide to drop the case before the trial date, I will likely file a civil claim against the city and also see what we can do with charging Officer Johnson and his peers with Felony Perjury and the prosecutor with prosecutorial misconduct upon our victory.
Again, I thank everyone for your support throughout all this time. It has been a lot easier, physically and mentally, to care for my family with your help. For anyone just getting here, your help or comments are always welcomed.
It's been a while since I've given any updates, that's because there hasn't been anything to tell until now.
I spoke to my attorney again today, he's been in contact with the State Attorney and the prosecution. Apparently, they have been trying to contact the officer in question to no avail. They haven't been able to reach him or get him to return any of their communication attempts in any way. Now they've filed a subpoena to get him to talk. We should have a definitive answer by September 30th or Oct 1st. He sounded very confident that the case would end in a "NoProc" (No Prosecution) or dismissal.
There's still a chance they will continue to pursue the case. If that happens, we will pull all the stops and go at them with all we have.
I would like to thank you all again for your support. You've helped us all in ways we couldn't imagine. Thank you all so much.
Thanks again to everyone for all the positive energy you've been sending us. The little one is feeling much meter and is home from the hospital. The home computer is busted, so updates well be coming from the cell from now on.
Apparently, Dyson is severely constipated. XRay is showing he's really stopped up and is what's contributing to the fever, which ,in turn, dehydrated him causing muscle pain. They might keep him overnight.
All in all, this isn't as bad as I initially thought, but I'm still very worried. He's resting now, and his fever has come down some.
I told you all I would keep you updated, so here goes. As you all know, my wife and son have been spending time in NY with our families. I got a phone call, this morning, from my wife and she told me that she had to take him to the ER. He hadn't eaten in a day and a half (which we normally chalk up to the occasional constipation) and he woke up this morning screaming. he wouldn't move, and if she tried to move him, he would scream even louder. Obviously, I can't think of any reason this would be happening. He has been perfectly healthy up until now and we don't give him any candies or junk food. Needless to say, I'm freaking out about this.
When it rains, it pours.
Kind of an update, but not really. No real changes here. Things will be even SLOWER now. Our laptop just quit on me. Good thing I have the phone app. I'm waiting on word from my attorneys, when I get anything, I'll let you guys know. Thanks again for your help and support. I wish I could give more detailed updates, but other than monotoring threads on social media, nothing has happened since the last update
Thank you all again for all your support! I don't have much in the way of updates today. I've handed my lawyers (the head of the firm has now joined my lawyer in helping me) all the information I could and they'll be handling all the media networks from now on. The Tampa Bay Times posted an article and it seems he did a better job at keeping it unbiased, which is much better than Fox13 did. That's all I have for now, when things pick up I'll give you as much info as I can.
Update 5: OK guys, here's another update. I've spoken to my lawyer and he's going to be taking the reins on this whole media ordeal. I was informed that an article was posted today in the Tampa Bay Times. I haven't gotten the chance to read it, but the journalist has kept in personal contact with me and I don't have any reason to believe he would throw me under the bus like Fox did.
I will be in contact with my lawyer most of the day today so I may not be able to respond to a lot of your comments and donation messages. Please bear with us.
Again, we do appreciate all of your help and support!
OK, since so many of you guys have supported me thus far. I want to remind you again where your money is going. Many of you who donated early on understand that this fund has been put together to help me and my family get through this rough patch. However, I saw posts on more than one site (including this one. Thanks, Betty), that you all are being scammed out of your money. Attached is a screenshot, timestamped from the minute I started typing this update. For the first time, I clicked the withdraw button so I can see what the process it. It shows me two things; how much you have given me, and how much I have withdrawn.
As you can see I have pulled out nothing. The account was set, before the first donation to automatically deposit your donations into my bank account on the 1st of each month. Although I CAN choose to pull money every time you give. I feel that would only feed into the skepticism.
Why do I feel the need to tell you this? Well that leads us to...
Update 4: Transparency (not related to the video)
We've been focused too much on the negative at hand, so let's deal with some positives. My son is just over a year old. And as you saw in the video, if you watched on youtube (my video shows annotations, I'm not sure if the others do as well), you know that I left NYC in late-March/ early-April of 2013. We have no family here, but we make our best efforts to share our experiences with him using apps like Tango to share video messages and video chat with our mothers so they can see his progress.
Seeing as we are so far away and in the financial situation we are in, I cannot afford to go home to visit them. However, her mom, when she's not western union-ing us money, is always scraping together just enough to afford for my wife and son to visit for a while. Do I go? No, I can't. There are bills to be paid and I want to save my only vacation days for the holidays. will I be travelling to NY then? Maybe, maybe not, but I won't be working, I owe that to Dyson.
What's the point of this update, Curtis? What are you trying to tell us?
OK Mr(s) Rushypants, I'll tell you. My mother in law's birthday is in the beginning of September (I forget when because, you know, inlaw and stuff). Before I set up this GFM (that she still doesn't know about), she purchased my wife and son a 1 way to NYC so they can spend that week together. I know she was struggling before, she knew we were struggling and couldn't afford to all go, but she insisted on buying the ticket. So right now, while I'm here in Fl with you, my GFM family, my family is in NY.
I'm OK with this and I hope you are too. Hear me out. I wasn't at first, for selfish reasons, really. "I have family that I miss too!" "Why can't you guys wait until we can afford to all go together?" "This isn't very fair, while your'e in NY relaxing, I have to stay here." All of these would seem like legitimate concerns except for this simple fact: I am not just a husband, but a father too. My wants and needs are irrelevant. If letting them go to NY means she stresses less, so be it. Why punish them and force them to stay cooped up in the house all day while I'm at work. This isn't NY, they can't just hop on the subway and go to the park or the zoo, they need a car and we only have one. Why not let her go and get her mind off this mess we're in?
Plus, I don't eat as much when she's not around anyway. That means less groceries bought which means less money spent. Less money spent means more to bills and we can get that much closer to being in the positive. I'd considered making this GFM before she left, I brought it up to her once or twice. She said "why not?" I said, "I dunno, people use this for when they REALLY need help or something. I think we'll be fine." She gave me -that look- (husbands, you know what I mean) and I got back to thinking. When she left, I was STILL thinking, and I imagined -that look- again, and I realized...we kinda do need help. So what do I do? Start the BFM? No, of course not, we don't need that yet. I'll see if I can consolidate my debt and lower my payment by applying for a loan to cover it! Great idea, me! Then I did the math. No. Not even close, the payments would actually be higher, even if I spread them out over five years. A few more days pass and I finally fold. THAT's when I came to you.
"I still don't understand why you told us any of this, Curtis."
I realized, after a local news station contacted my brother back home via facebook, that a LOT of things can go wrong with me asking for your help while my wife is in NY with her family. People like Betty, could think this is a scam should it surface that my wife is in NY, could think that I sent her there, while we're suppose to be struggling, with YOUR donation money. And I assure you that is not the case. If you feel you have been wronged by me in any way, please email me and we'll figure out a solution. I feel I should be as transparent as possible with what you're giving us. You're almost literally paying for the next few months of our lives. It keeps the integrity feel going and I don't have to worry about what others might think anymore.
At first I felt ashamed that I had to ask for help from strangers to support my family, but after seeing all the support you guys have given, emotionally, spiritually, and financially, I've come to embrace my decision
Again, thank you all for your help and support. It means a lot to all of us. We love you all.
I haven't withdrawn a dime.
I want to remind everyone that I posted the GFM to help my family financially. It's been said that I am only looking for my 15 minutes of fame and am throwing a pity party online. I never intended for the mainstream media to get a hold of this video. I shared my story on Facebook and CopBlock.org's FB page because I knew that there are other people who have been in my shoes and can relate to my situation. I definitely didn't think we would get this far so quickly. However, I still and always will appreciate the support you have shown for us here. Thank you all, very much!
Update 3: Fox 13 in Tampa posted an newsclip about my story. I was excited at first, but when I saw the way they edited the video, I was disappointed (though not surprised). Although they contacted me that afternoon, I didn't get a chance to respond until after they had run the story.
On the other hand, a journalist for the Tampa Bay Times, seemed interested in the story so we sat down today. Over the course of an hour and a half, I shared my experiences with SPPD on Dec 26, but the one on Nov 8, and every confrontation I could remember with the NYPD. Hopefully true journalism prevails here, I can't wait to see the article.
A special thanks goes to Ben Hamilton, a fellow Marine who I served with in Palm Springs, Ca. as well as all the other service members who have shared my story and donated, like Kirston Otis. Thank you all.
Update 2: I seriously am freaking out. I didn't realize this would blow up so quickly. My story was played on Fox 13 here in Tampa, The Tampa Bay Times wants to publish my story, and so does CNN. Thank you all again for the support. We really REALLY appreciate it all.
Thank you all very much for all your support! Even those who only shared the video, you did a lot.
UPDATE: The Major from the St Petersburg Police Department contacted me today and asked me if I want to file an official complaint. After I speak with my lawyer, I'll let you know what I'm going to do.
My family and I appreciate everything you have done for us.
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.