Shattered: A Personal Account of Police Abuse
Post traumatic stress- I never thought it would apply to me. My biggest vices were working too hard and drinking too much caffeine as I worked a full time rice bowl job and was building a writing career. It was nothing for me to work a seventy-hour work week between the two, plus I still had ten furkids and a home to care for. Before I went into the factory job, I would straightened my home and do some writing. When I returned home, I would feed the furkids and do some more writing before going to bed. Most people would have considered my life fairly boring, but I was happy. My dream was finally coming true. However, all that changed on October 18, 2006.
I was driving home after I got out of work at 2am. It wasn’t anything unusual. It was normal. When I pulled out of the factory driveway, my greatest thought was what I wanted for dinner. Although I saw bright headlights down the road, they were far enough away not to be an issue. I pulled out and turned at the light. The headlights followed me. Suddenly the lights picked up speed and began tail gating me. It made me very uncomfortable, so I switched lanes. The car behind me pulled up far enough to be able to look inside my car. I saw it was a police car and never gave it another thought. A few minutes later, he turned on his flashing lights. I checked my speed; it was within the limit. Confused, I put on my blinker and pulled over to the right side of the road. There was no reason for him to pull me over.
The patrol car parked behind me. The Deputy walked up, but at first didn't say anything. I asked, "What? Why did you stop me?" He demanded my identification. I told him it was in my purse and pointed to the back seat. He told me to get it, so I attempted to open the car door; there was no way I could reach my purse from the front seat. He immediately slammed the door shut and again demanded my identification. I told him I couldn't reach it from the front seat. He yanked open my door and ordered me to the back of my car. I did as I was told. I didn't understand why he was so angry. I hadn't down anything to deserve such nasty treatment. While I was walking to the rear of my car, he reached into my back seat, search through the things, and found my purse. As he walked around to the back of my car, he searched it without cause or my permission. He found my small atheme set in the side pocket of my purse. Athemes are ritual knifes which are solely used for directing energy. Mine were decorative daggers without an edge; the largest was 2 1/2 inches, including the hilt. I kept asking why he stopped me; he refused to tell me. A second officer arrived. The first told me to put my hands behind my back. I asked if I was being arrested. He said yes. Stunned, I asked why. He snapped back that he would tell me later and demanded that I turn around. Confused and frightened, I did what I was told and he handcuffed me. Within a few minutes, both my hands were numb. He refused to tell me why nor did he read me my rights. I was put in the back of the patrol car and my car was searched. As I watched them, I couldn’t believe it was possible. Nothing made sense. I didn’t do anything. I hadn’t done anything.
The deputies got into the patrol car, I again asked them why. They repeated that I would be told later. When we arrived at the jail and they finally told me what the charges were. The deputy said he pulled me over because I was swerving; that was a lie. He said I was being charged with felony-concealed weapon. By no stretch of the imagination could my athames be called weapons any more than a toy cap gun. They didn’t have an edge and the size alone would prelude doing any harm. My car key could do more damage.
Inside the jail, the two arresting officers turned me over to others. There were approximately 2-3 deputies on duty in the immediate area, but I saw others walking about in other areas, including two female deputies. A deputy with brown hair started asking me biographical questions. He took the handcuffs off and told me to lean forward against the counter. He was going to search me. Startled, I didn’t know what to say. I thought it was the law that I had to be searched by a female deputy. Again, I did what I was told and he patted me down. He asked for my jewelry; my fingers were still numb and it was very difficult for me to take off my necklace with my pentacle pendant. The only other piece I wore was a ring. Another deputy remained in the general area, while the searching deputy asked me more questions. When second deputy left the area, the deputy told me he had to again search me; only this time, the search was entirely sexual. Although he didn’t say anything, his hands spoke volumes. It wasn’t like the first search, which wasn’t intrusive. The second search was very intimidating and degrading. I couldn’t believe what had just happened to me. I had always thought that law enforcement were the good guys; that they were the one you went to for protection. I felt stupid and naive. There was nothing I could say. When he pinched my right nipple, my mind shut off and I went cold inside. I couldn't accept what was happening to me. I never thought I was the biggest and badest on the block, but I always thought I could take care of myself. Not being able to move or fight back, while he was groping me, killed my faith in myself. For months after, I felt guilty and ashamed for not stopping him or at least saying something. But what do you say when the representative of the institution, you grew up believing were there to protect you, suddenly assaults in one of the most devastating ways possible? When the other deputy returned into view, he immediately stopped and stepped away from me.
They led me to a hallway and locked me inside. Within a few minutes, my chest started to hurt as the stress and confusion, activated my asthma. I asked for my inhaler; it was in the side pocket of my purse. The deputies refused. I did my best to focus on my meditation techniques to help me relax. Nothing worked. I repeatedly asked for help the best I could. It became increasing difficult to breathe. Speaking became nearly impossible. The deputies responded by ordering me to stop making myself sick. At one point, I curled up into a ball, trying to limit my need for oxygen. The more difficult it became to breathe, the more I panicked, which only made the asthma attack more severe. My entire world came to down to forcing air in and out of my lungs. The pain in my chest increased. I became light headed. At one point, I vomited and urinated all over myself. Soon afterwards, a deputy gave me my inhaler. It seem to take a long time for it to take effect. Even afterwards, it still hurt to breath. I had vomit in my hair and all down the front of my sweatshirt. My jeans were soaked in urine. I don’t know how long the attack lasted. It seemed to last a forever.
Before I was placed in the hallway, I had asked to talk to a supervisor. A dark haired man with facial hair walked into the hallway a short time later; however, I was still wasn’t able to talk. I tried to explain the best I could, but he left without saying a word. Later, another supervisor came into the hallway. He said he was the shift supervisor. Although he told me his name, I didn’t retain it. I was more able to talk, but it still hurt to breathe. I wanted him to explain why I was arrested. He said he didn’t understand it either, but there was nothing he could do. He offered to provide me with clean clothing; I refused. They had taken my freedom, my dignity and my self-respect--they weren’t going to take anything else from me. I told him that I severe asthma and that I was hypoglycemic. He gave me his word that I would have access to my inhaler when I needed it and that I would be provided with food. When I was put in the cell, I was given a sack lunch of two sandwiches, an apple, a cookie and juice. The bread was hard and stale. The lunchmeat was brownish green. The cookie was too hard to break with my fingers. The juice was the only thing worth consuming. I rationed it out to keep my blood sugar from crashing.
Time became distorted without any visible clocks or windows to measure time. Another male deputy took me out of the cell and continued the processing. He took my fingerprints and photographed me. Although he was more talkative then the other deputies, he refused to answer any of my questions, instead he insisted on searching me. Once again, my breasts were fondled, but another deputy came into the general area before he could get further. Like the other deputy, he suddenly stepped away from me. He escorted me back to the cell and slammed the door. I curled up in the back corner with my back pressed against the wall with the blanket they gave me pulled tightly around me. I was cold, terrified and alone. The blanket did little to keep me warm. At one point, I became very light headed; suddenly I was waking up face down on the floor a few feet from the corner. I still felt dizzy and disoriented. Apparently, none of the deputies noticed that I had lost consciousness.
Breakfast was served to the others, but I was skipped over. A couple of hours later, I went before the magistrate and my bond was set at five thousand dollars with ten per cent down. I didn't have the money, nor did my friends or family have quick access to five hundred dollars. I was scheduled to go before the judge at 2 pm. Since I only had one phone call, I called my employer and asked for a loan. He agreed to see what he could do and asked for a phone number to call back. I asked the deputy at the desk and he gave me the number for his desk. I was returned to the cell to wait. I drank the last of the juice from the sack lunch; within a short time, I could feel the effects of my blood sugar dropping. I continued to huddle in the corner, coming out only to ask for my inhaler. The deputies became increasing hostile with each request. It became harder to gain their attention and they took longer bring it too me. Not being able to breathe properly only flamed the emotional overload. Their attitude about my meds made me afraid to ask for something to eat. I knew it would only increase their hostility. The beginning symptoms of low blood sugar started with the shakes. Normally, it would have been followed by unreasonable anger; however, in this case, it was followed by increasing fear, depression and nausea. I wanted to get out even if it meant stepping out of my body to do it. I didn’t want to be seen; it wasn't safe. Nothing was safe.
As the morning passed without hearing anything from my employer, my fear became over whelming. My furkids hadn't been fed in over twenty-four hours. Most of them were rescue kitties; any break in their route brought on behavior issues for weeks. Being hungry would only reawaken their old fears. The guilt only compounded my emotional overload. I kept fluxuating between total denial and an acute awareness of the reality of my situation. At times, I stepped back out of myself and refused to believe that any of it was real. It wasn’t happening to me. It was someone else who looked like me; I was merely an observer in this macabre story. I could still see and hear, but I suddenly felt nothing. It was all a dream; an illusion that would soon dissipate like a nightmare. Other times, I believe that my life as I knew it was over--that I would never be free again--that I would never be safe again. My chest continued to hurt with each breathe. The world around me continued to drift in and out of focus. At times, the pain in my chest would become overwhelming and I would force myself to risk the hostility by requesting my inhaler. The meds would only help for a short time as the stress continued to inflame my lungs.
The activity continued around me. Two men were brought in; the deputies knew them so well they had nicknames for them. Even through they were already on probation, they were in an out in a couple of hours without having to post bond. A scrawny teen-ager was also brought in. He looked like he was fourteen, but he worked at a factory so he was at least eighteen. He was a loud mouth punk who verbally challenged the deputies’ authority. The deputies were no better. Both sides insulted each other mothers. It was very junior high. When the deputies put him in the next cell and stopped harassing him, he calmed down and socialized with the other inmates.
Lunch was served. I was given a tray this time. Even if it hadn’t been disguising, I was too sick to eat it. They wouldn’t allow me to keep the medal cup, so I drank the juice all at once. It did raise my blood sugar a little and the fog cleared for a short time. I was able to settle back into myself. As the day passed, I became concerned that I would be late for my appointment with the judge. The last time I was allowed to use my inhaler, I asked when I would be going before the judge. The deputy told me my paperwork wasn’t ready yet. He took my inhaler and slammed the door. Out of my site, another deputy suggested that I be taken to the nurse. He was angrily told by the deputy with my inhaler to shut up and to mind his own business.
The afternoon passed and my blood sugar again began to drop. Deputies from Cadillac arrived to transfer the smart mouth punk. Up until they arrived, he was quiet and peaceful. However, when he saw the Cadillac deputies, he became terrified. He begged to talk to his social worker and to pay the eighty dollars he owed. They laughed and teased him like bullies on a schoolyard. He was taken out of his cell, handcuffed behind his back and put in leg chains. Flanked by four deputies that not only tower above him, but also out weighed him, they led him out. Moments later, there was a scuffle outside the door. Three more deputies raced out. There was more screaming, then it became quiet. Two deputies came back in. One bragged that he would have beaten his face bloody. They quickly reshuffled the inmates in the other cell and put the other prisoner, who was waiting to be transferred, in the hallway. Four deputies carried the punk in by his arms and legs. They returned him to cell, dropping him face down on the thin mattress. As one deputy took the restrains off, the others held him down. One pinned his back down with one hand; the other had a gun. However, whether accidentally or on purpose, the weapon was pointed at me. Terrified, I couldn't move out of the line of fire. The deputy with the gun jabbed downward on his back and all of them left the cell. Stunned I just stared. Slowly he sat up. I looked over my shoulder at the inmate in hallway. Through the glass, I saw him shake his head. The punk stood up. After a short time, he painfully removed his t-shirt. There were red welts and forming bruises all over his arms and torso. We made eye contact and he pointed at himself as if to say look what they did to me.
A short time later, I was able to gain a deputies attention and I asked about going before the judge. He told me it was a little after four and that were two of us who still needed to go before the judge before five. A short time later, he came back and told me that my paperwork wasn’t done so my appearance had been changed to 9am the next morning. I didn’t know what to do. He waited for the panic to set in before he told me that my bond had been paid and I was going to be released. They processed the other inmate first. Then I was brought out of the cell do finish the paperwork. One deputy looked at me and said that I didn’t look suicidal so I could go. They had deducted housing fees from the cash I had, but instead of returning the rest, they gave me a check. The releasing deputy tried to tell me my car was just where I left it. I knew that wasn’t true. When I persisted, he finally told me where it was towed. I had to call a cab, which wouldn’t accept a personal check or the check the deputy gave me, nor would the towing company. Instead, I put both on my credit card, which put me over my limit.
They gave me the note from my employer along with his number. I was allowed to call him to verify I had been released. He told me had tried to pay the bond before eleven that morning; the deputies dissuaded him, telling him that it would be reduced when I went before the judge. When he hadn’t heard from me by three, he went to the courthouse and searched until he found the proper place to pay it. He paid it before 3:30. I wasn’t released until after 5:30. The towing company was closed and I had to wait for them to return. It was cold. I was alone in the park lot. Pacing keep warm, I found myself at the top of a deep wooded ditch. It occurred to me how easy it would be for me to leap into it. The fall wouldn’t kill me, but with all the rocks and trash, I could simply lay there and die without anyone noticing. Then I thought of my furkids and I forced myself away from the edge. Eventually the person from the towing company arrived and I was able to get my car.
It was after eight before I got home. It had been almost twenty hours sense I’d eaten. Longer since I had taken my meds. I smelled of vomit and urine. My kids were hysterical. I fed them and took a shower. I tried to eat. But it took three attempts before food would stay down. Again, I showered, yet I still didn’t feel clean. In a vain attempt to pick up the pieces of my shattered life, I went on the net and contacted friends. I needed to tell someone. But I wasn't comfortable telling my friends and family who were close to me. I was ashamed. My online friends gave me a great deal of support, but even with the impersonal nature of the relationships, I still couldn’t share all the details. On the net, I have the somewhat of a reputation of being an outspoken bitch, ready with a persuasive argument and willing to stand alone. However, when it came right down to it, I was nothing but a spineless coward.
I needed to be at the courthouse at 9 am so I went to bed early and tried to sleep, but even in my own bed, I didn't feel safe. When I did doze off, the nightmares quickly woke me. Most of the details eluded me, vanishing like phantoms in the night; the most vivid one I remembered was being buried alive. Morning came. I got out of bed and turned off the alarm before it went off. If fed my furkids and took another long hot shower. I remembered hearing on TV shows how rape victims kept showering, trying to feel clean. It wasn’t my body that felt dirty; no water would be able to wash away what I was feeling. It was my self-esteem and self worth rotting away that I couldn’t get clean. While I dressed, I was able to tuck all that ick away in a box and put it on the emotional shelf. I would deal with it later. At the time, there were more important things to deal with. I needed to logical. My emotions at that time were the enemy that needed to be locked away. Growing up in a dysfunctional alcoholic home gave me the ability to emotionally shut down and to compartmentalize my life. I pulled myself together and left for court.
I arrived early and sat next to a guy that I had remembered seeing the day before; he was the other inmate who was scheduled to go before the judge, but whose paperwork was never finished. Although I never learned his name, we talked. He had been arrested the day before in the courthouse, while he was waiting to go before the judge. However, he had mistaken his appearance date and arrived a day late. So instead of appearing before Judge Phillips, the Grand Traverse Sheriff deputy arrested him. His girlfriend had paid his bond early in the afternoon, yet he was also held hours afterward. After a few minutes, an older man sat down with us. He said he worked briefly with me at the factory. I didn’t remember him, but there was a high turn over rate. He told me that he over heard the deputies laughing how they were teaching me a lesson. I asked him if he would write his name and a phone number for me in case I needed it later. He agreed and gave me the information. The three of us chatted, while those who had attorneys went before the judge. They both went up before me. It was nearly noon before it was my turn. Judge Phillips read me my rights; he was the only one. I asked for a court appointed attorney and they gave me the paper work. The ten percent bond that my employer paid was returned to me and I was able to leave.
The next day it still hurt to breathe. My asthma and allergy med didn't do much to help. My primary doctor couldn't see me, so I went to the Urgent Care. I was x-rayed and diagnosed with severe Pleurisy. The doctor told me the numbness in my fingertips was due to the breathing problems and would clear up when the lining of my lungs healed. I returned home to find a message on my machine, giving me the name of my court appointed lawyer. The caller id logged the call in at 4:55 pm. Even if I had been home, it was too late in the day to contact him.
Much of the weekend was spend home hiding and crying. When I was alone it was more difficult to keep everything that I was feeling stuff in the box. I keep trying to ignore it but it kept spilling out in the unexpected ways. I used to love watching the Law and Order shows; that changed. It was no longer entertainment. I only saw how civil rights were abused and the damage the cops did. On Sunday, I called Linda, a co-worker who lived close by, and arranged to ride with her to work the next day. I was too afraid to drive by myself, but I only indulged my fears for the one day. I started driving myself on Tuesday, but I was on constant high alert. Twice that week while running errands, deputy sheriffs followed me. Both times, I turned off the main street on to side streets only to have them do the same. I had to pull into the nearest business and go inside to escape. As a joke, Andy, another co-worker, raced up behind me after work with his bright lights on; it was so much like what happened with the deputy that it send me into a panic attack that turned into another severe asthma attack. I swerved into a gas station, nearly hitting the pumps. The next day he thought it was funny.
I filed complaints with everyone I could think of. The prosecutor’s office told me that my religion was a valid defense and that he would check into the matter, but he never called me back. I called and wrote a letter to the Michigan Attorney General, Mike Cox, as did many of my friends; they refused to get involved until after I filed locally. The Michigan ACLU office in Detroit gave me information about a similar case they won in the Detroit area. The governor’s office refused to become involved as did my local representatives. Everyone thought it was terrible, but no one was willing to help.
Emotionally I spiraled out of control. It became increasingly difficult to leave my home. I would have to take an emotional running start and force myself out the front door. Out of my home, the panic attacks became more frequent and severe. On October 31, I talked to a councilor at the Women's Resources center. Becky Garland listened, but what she told me about other women's experience with the police only added fuel to my fear. She asked me if I thought I needed medication. I wasn't depressed; I was terrified with good reason. Medication couldn't fix that. I left with information, a few contact names, and a growing paranoia. Leaving the house became increasingly difficult. Although I had stopped riding to work with Linda, she agreed to follow me most of the way home after work. It was the only way I could continue working. On nights she didn’t come in or went home early, I had panic attacks and couldn’t stay. If I didn’t know who was in the vehicle behind me at night, I started to panic. My chest would tighten and an asthma attack would quickly follow.
November 1, I met with Phillip Settles, my court appointed attorney. In his appearance and mannerisms, he reminded me of a bearded Tim Allen. The first words out of his mouth were that he couldn’t represent me in a civil suit. I thought it was strange. The deputies were the only ones I told that I was going to sue. Looking back, I saw the connection, but at the time, emotional overload kept me from focusing. Mr. Settles asked me my side of the story; however, he didn’t want to hear about the sexual assault or the denial of my asthma medication. He kept saying, “Why are you telling me this?” He was only interested in what happened from the time I was pulled over until the time I was booked. He had me keep repeating the same details over and over. My story never changed. The week before he had sent me a copy of the arrest report and the complaint form. I pointed out the discrepancies in the report, including the size of my athames and in what was said. Deputy Revnell had put my athames on a photocopier, without anything for scale, and enlarged them to the point they wouldn’t have fit in the pocket of my purse. Mr. Settles said that size didn’t matter since all double edge blades were illegal. He said that if I went to trial, I would be convicted and sentenced to five years in prison and $2,500.00 fines. I tried to tell him about the similar case the ACLU won involving a religious knife. He wasn’t interested in the information.
It didn’t make sense. None of it. Law enforcement was supposed to protect me; yet, they were doing the most harm. I had never hurt anyone, yet my lawyer was telling me that I was going to spend the next five years in prison. He didn’t care if Revnell lied and falsified the arrest report. To him it came down to, I was guilty in spite of the fact that I had done nothing. As I was leaving, he ordered me to stop discussing my case and to tell my friends to stop contacting the authorities in my defense. He said it was hurting my case. At the time, it seemed logical.
The next morning was the preliminary hearing. I got there early. Deputy Revnell was already there; he was like a different person. Instead of being angry and out of control, he calmly sat on the bench. He refused to look at me. Instead, he stared face forward with his left leg continually bouncing like a nervous tick. He was like Dr. Jeckle and Mr. Hyde. Mr. Settles arrived. A short time later, my case was called. The prosecutor, James Pappas, called Revnell. The deputy described events and conversations that never happened. He claimed I volunteered my athames and that I said they were for self-defense. He also said that they were easily accessible; they were in the bottom of my purse, which was buried in the junk in the back seat of my car. Although he verbal described my athames, they were never brought in to court. If they had, his lies and the falsification of the evidence would have been exposed. The prosecutor ignored the illegality of search and gloss over the reason for the initial stop. Listening to the growing number of lies, I felt as if I was being assaulted again. Once again, the same feeling of powerlessness over whelmed me. I couldn’t believe that these men were so casually discussing my future with total disregard to my civil rights or justice. Judge Thomas Phillips sat at smiling; I don’t know if he was stoned or simply didn’t care. Mr. Settles was able to get Revnell to admit that he did not have permission to search my car or my purse, but he did not follow up with a request for the charges to be dropped, nor did he insist that my athames be produced. Either could have instantly ended the matter. The questioning went quickly and the case was held over to the 13th Judicial Supreme Court. I was not surprised. Mr. Settles did nothing to stop it.
When we left the building, I asked Mr. Settles to help me file a complaint against the Sheriff Department. He took me aside and told not to do it. He said that it would do no good and that the deputy involved had a history of making witnesses disappear. He repeatedly stressed that it would not be safe nor would it help my case for me to complain. The deputy who arrested me was the nephew of the sheriff, who in the past had gone out of his way to protect his family. He told me to Google “Justin Revnell” to learn what kind of person I was dealing with. Months later I learned that if I had filed the complaint on November 2, there would have been video evidence to support my claims; however, the video feed is on a digital loop that over-writes itself every thirty days. By the time I found the courage, the evidence was long gone.
Emotionally I was spiraling out of control. Mr. Settles “warnings” only fueled my growing paranoia. I felt like I was at the bottom of a deep dark hole. When I tried to climb out, the side crumbled, further burying me. For the first time in my life, I was afraid. Leaving the house became more and more difficult. The panic attacks became more frequent. The pleurisy never had a chance to heal. Instead it became part of a continuing cycle of panic attacks which became asthmas attacks, which led to flash backs and stronger panic attacks. Between the nightmares, the panic attacks and the difficulty breathing, I stopped being able to function. On October 17 when I woke up, I was a happy, inspired writer who was building a writing career one bookstore and reader at a time. With the exception of a tight budget, my life was wonderful. I was working out 3-5 times a week for nearly an hour. I felt strong, healthy and hopeful. But all that changed 2 am on October 18. There was no longer any joy in my life. I felt dirty and alone. I had never thought of myself as the biggest or badest on the block, but I always thought I could take care of myself. The Grand Traverse Sheriff department stole that from me. When you no longer have faith in yourself, it’s nearly impossible to have faith in the world. I could no longer climb a flight of stairs without my chest hurting, much less work out. I started gaining weight and loosing my muscle tone. Toward the middle of November, I wrote out my will and got out a razor blade. I looked at it for a long time, trying to find a reason to stay. I was fairly sure my friend Sheri or my sister in law Shelia would take care of my furkids. They are both good women who knew how much I loved them. Luckily, Myriam called. Although she didn’t know it at the time, she stopped me from making a very big mistake. We talked for a while about nothing in particular, but it was enough for me to tie a knot at the end of my rope. Whenever the thought came back, I called her, Cate or Anne. These three women became my lifelines. All three had training in psychology in varying degrees. Anne had worked for the Red Cross; she had great deal of experience working with those suffering from Post Traumatic Stress. With their help and that of a Shaman, who did a soul retrieval on me, I was able stop seriously thinking about suicide.
November 9 was the first pretrial conference. Mr. Settles and James Pappas went behind closed doors. I sat in the hallway. After about an hour, Mr. Settles reappeared. He refused to tell me what was said beyond that a misdemeanor plea was offered. He once again ordered to me to not talk about my case; only this time in included the media. He told me to sign a form, which he said stated that he told me about the plea offer. I trusted him and signed it without reading it. Looking back, it was really stupid, but at the time, I simple didn’t have the capability of making rational decisions.
November 30, I was stopped by another deputy for illegally beeping. The deputy was very careful to keep his nametag covered and above my line of sight. He threatened to ticket me for beeping without an emergency and for having a necklace hanging around my rear view mirror. However, if I apologized for my rudeness he would let me off with a warning. I was terrified and apologized. I waited for him to leave so I could get his car number, but he refused to move until I did, therefore it was impossible to for me to identify him.
On December 15 the final pretrial hearing was set for 1pm with the motions to dismiss to be heard at 3pm. Again, I sat in the hall while the attorneys talked behind closed doors. Mr. Settles filed two motions. One to dismiss on the grounds of the illegal search and other was based on religious discrimination. However, he added that if the judge didn’t uphold the motions the jury would convict me and I would be spending five years in prison for a felony conviction. He said that personally didn’t care where a served my time and ordered me to sign another form that he claimed acknowledged what he told me; however, I wasn’t given the opportunity to read it. I tried to tell him about being pulled over again, but he didn’t want to hear it. I reminded him about the ACLU case. Again, he stated that no matter what the size or purpose of my athames, they were a double-edged knife, which was illegal to possess in a vehicle. He repeated that if the case went to the jury, I would be convicted.
He led me to the Superior courtroom and instructed me to sit down. He went to talk to an older man. The two of them chatted for a few minutes and Mr. Settles took me to another room. He said that he arranged a deal. If I plead guilt to a misdemeanor, the prosecutor would delayed the sentencing, which would wipe my record clean. He said it was the best I could hope for and that he would recommend it to his own son. Mr. Settles was very persuasive and I was very frightened. I reluctantly agreed. We went back into the courtroom.
By that time, James Pappas had arrived; both he and the Judge Rogers were informed of the agreement. Mr. Pappas became very angry, almost as if he had a personal stake in the out come. After we left the courtroom, Mr. Settles took me into a conference room and told me I wasn’t to discuss my case with anyone, especially the media, for at least a year. I was not to write about any of the specifics in any shape or form. Basically, he told me to keep my mouth shut.
January 2, I was getting ready to pull out of my employer’s driveway after work. There were stationary headlights down the road. I pulled out. Linda followed. Immediately, the vehicle sped up. It followed us for six miles keeping very close behind Linda’s car. I started to panic; instead of turning off and driving home, I pulled into the 24-hour grocery store. The sheriff’s car continued to closely follow Linda for several more miles.
January 5 was the plea hearing. I received 180 days probation, 40 hours community service and $490.00 in fines. I was shocked to learn that the “delay” part of the deal had nothing to do with a postponement of the punishment, but referred to record keeping. Mr. Settles led me down to the Probation department and left. January 24 was my final court appearance for the charges. However, I received a bill from the Circuit court for attorney fees. I called and was told by a clerk that if I didn’t pay, I would be jailed for contempt of court. I didn’t have the money. She hung up on me. Two days later, I received a court summons to again appear in circuit court on March 16 at 9am. Even though I worked until 2am, I arrived on time, but wasn’t called before Judge Rogers until after noon. Around 11am, the stress and exhaustion had caused my blood sugar to start dropping. By noon, I had the shakes and the numbing mind fog. I would have agreed to anything to get out of there. My payments were set at $25 a month. The “providing a lawyer without cost” only happens on TV. A few weeks later, I received a bill from the sheriff’s department for housing and medical costs. I paid the housing fees before I was released and they never provided me with medical care, yet they expected me to send them more money. The bill came with the implied threat of further jail time if payment wasn’t immediately sent. I disregarded a utility bill and paid it.
Physically I was no better, but emotionally I had started to heal. I no longer thought that all law enforcement officers were out to get me, but I was still having panic attacks when I had to leave my home. It was very difficult for me to leave the yard, so I only went out when I absolutely had to. My writing suffered. It used to be so easy for me to make my stories come alive on the page; I loved creating magical adventures. But it is nearly impossible to visualize courageous characters meeting impossible tasks when your life is filled with fear. I stopped writing fiction. My non-fiction focused on civil rights and police abuse. Being unable to focus made my writing sloppy and unprofessional. I was stuck in the fear and anger. I wanted the people who hurt me to experience the same kind of pain they caused me.
On February 1, I was again followed by a Sheriff’s deputy. After making several turns, I needed to pull into a store parking lot and go inside to stop the harassment. I realized that although deputies weren’t activity stalking me, if the occasion presented itself they would continue to harass me. It was then I decided the only way to protect myself was to file complaints.
After doing research, I decided the safest course of action was to send my complaint letters snail mail return receipt. The beginning of February, letters were sent to Sheriff Scott Fewins, Alan Schneider, the prosecutor and to Mike Cox. Mr. Schneider never responded.
It took to June 6 for Donna Pendergast of the Attorney General’s office to answer my complaint. In her letter, she ignored the civil rights violations, perjury, the sexual assault, and the denial of medical treatment. Instead, she focused on the length of time I was held. Although it was outrageous, it was least of the charges. I called her, but she failed to return my phone calls. After several weeks, I started calling Mike Cox and Tom Cameron, the head of the criminal division of the Attorney General’s office. I left messages, yet no one has returned my calls in spite of promises to do so.
On February 28, Captain Dave Meachum of the Grand Traverse Sheriff department called me. He said there would be an investigation in to my complaint and that someone would be contacting me by the end of the week. On March 3, Detective Kevin Gay called me and we agreed to meet on March 5. I was afraid to go alone, so I asked my friend, Kayla to go along and I brought a mini recorder. Detective Gay along with another officer from Internal Affairs interviewed me. They asked the same questions repeatedly. It was quite apparent that they not only didn't believe me, but also had little interest in actually investigating my complaint. The internal affairs officer actually expressed sympathy for the treatment Revnell received in the press. He said that the whole matter was blown out of proportion and that Revnell was a good officer. I was shocked by his statement, but I tried to be as open minded as my courage would allow, giving them as many names, dates and contact information as I could remember. Detective Gay focused on the sexual assault--the charge I could prove the least. The deputies who assaulted me were very good at making sure others did not see them; this wasn’t the first time they had degraded a woman. Neither of them wanted to hear about the civil rights violations, the falsification of the reports, the perjury and the denial of medical attention--all the things I had documentation for. The interview lasted about an hour. Both Kayla and I had the feeling that nothing would be done. On my way home, I was again followed by a Sheriff's patrol car. There were two officers who remained a little over a car length behind me. With the roads being icy, even a quick tap on the breaks would have caused a rear end collision. Detective Gay called me a few days later for more information and I told about the incident. He tried to deny that I was being harassed and claimed it was merely a coincidence. But I refused to be persuaded. The obvious harassment stopped after the conversation. However, on May 18, Detective Gay called. He informed me that he didn’t find any credible basis for my sexual assault complaint and that my case was closed. He refused to look at my documentation supporting my other charges or to go examine my athames. The blue wall protected its own.
In April, I filed a complaint against Phillips Settles with the Attorney General and the Attorney Grievance Commission. Neither were willing to help. Instead, they suggested that I hire a lawyer and file suit civilly. In the Traverse City area, the attorneys are either friends of the law enforcement or are afraid. Those who have gone up against them, even if they won, refused to do it again. The likely hood of finding an attorney who would be willing to help is slim to none. Although I would like financial compensation for the income I’ve lost and the pain they caused me, primary focus in on justice. They shouldn’t be allowed to do this to anyone else.
Ten years ago, there was a skinhead and KKK rally scheduled for the area. In response, the more open-minded individuals organized the Unity concert that celebrated diversity. Although there was a great influx of thousands of people of diverse points of view, there was very little conflict or civil rights violations. I bragged to my friends how wonderful the Traverse City area was. With all the potential conflicts, no one got hurt and almost everyone had a good time. All that has changed. Not only do the deputies look like skinheads, they act them as well. Deputies are caught drunk driving, yet their co-workers manipulate test results so they are not charges with DUI. Thousands of dollars disappear, yet no one was held responsible. State Police officers harass individuals whose political viewpoints they disagree with. Through a friend, who worked for an attorney, I learned that many other women have been sexually assaulted in the guise of searches. In a near by town, the KKK flag was substituted for the American flag during a town event; there were a many who didn’t understand the out rage of the general public. They claimed it had been a joke, yet no one took responsibility for the switch and those, who did know who was responsible, refused to tell.
Whether it be a 70-year-old woman being physically assaulted for not watering her lawn to the groom who was shot to death by undercover officers, people are no longer safe from police abuse in their homes or on the street. Law enforcement no longer protects and serves; instead, they consider themselves above the law because they are not held responsible for their actions. I have been told that the abusive officers are in the minority--that most law enforcement officers are ethical and honest. If that were true, the abuse cases would be decreasing instead of increasing both in number and in severity. Instead of exposing the abusive officers, they make excuses and protect them. What they don’t seem to realize, that whether abusive or ethical, all officers are painted with the same brush. There are very few people who still have faith and trust in law enforcement officers. Instead, they are considered just as much an enemy as the criminals.
It is time for the public to take back their power by holding law enforcement fully responsible for their actions. No more excuses. No more free passes. Those that do the actual harm as well as those who protect them need to be held legally and civilly responsible. If you see or know of an abuse, report it and keep pushing until they are held responsible. It is only the public as a whole reclaiming their power that justice will be done and the individual’s rights be protected.
As for me, it has been nine months. I am finally becoming me again or at least as close as I’ll ever get. I was shattered. No matter how neatly or carefully I glue the pieces back together; I will never be the same. Physically, I am regaining strength. Emotionally, there are still times when the fear becomes over-whelming, but those times are becoming fewer. My creativity is finally returning, but the experience has forever tainted the way I see the world. Since it didn’t kill me, it will eventually make me stronger, but I will never be able to regain the trust I had on October 17, 2006.
Labels: civil rights violations, free speech, Grand Traverse County, James Pappas, Justin Revnell, Michigan, pagan, pentacle, Phillip Settles, Sean Bell, Theresa Chaze, Traverse City, wiccan, women's rights