10 months ago
Peretz Partinsky describes a series of events that occurred on July 25, 2013, but apparently on which he only recently published. I won’t quote the entire article. The part that I do quote will force you to read the rest, and the rest is remarkable. If it weren’t true you almost couldn’t make this kind of thing up – it is so emblematic of an abusive police state.
My friend Ben Woosley and I were hanging out at Driftwood Bar on Folsom Street. We were talking work; we had three drinks over the course of three hours. We left the bar at 12:45am and walked towards my house, a block away.
The accident had happened just seconds before…
The bicycle had flipped forward and lay unattended in the street. The girl’s foot was bare and mangled, her chin bleeding. There was blood on her jacket, a puddle of it on the ground. Her name was Rebecca. “Where am I?” she kept asking. She was lucky to have been wearing a helmet. Josh, who had been giving her a ride on his handlebars, was wincing and bracing his shoulder.
Neither of them had working cell phones. When they asked me to, I immediately dialed 911. According to the record, it was 12:49am.
While I relayed the situation to the operator, Ben and the first bystander were helping Rebecca elevate her foot. Ben held her hand and supported her body on the ground. Rebecca borrowed his phone to call her friends and family.
Four minutes had passed when I spotted a fire truck and several police cars in the distance and stepped into the street to wave them over. “They arrived,” I told the 911 operator. She thanked me and told me to expect an ambulance to follow.
I identified myself as the caller to the half dozen police who poured out of squad cars and stepped back onto the sidewalk in front of Radius restaurant.
Sgt. Espinoza, short, stout, grey and assertive, asked Ben and me whether we had witnessed the accident. We said that we hadn’t, but arrived shortly thereafter. I was standing 15 feet from the scene beside Officer Kaur, a stocky female of South Asian complexion. She turned to me and abruptly said that I was not needed as a witness and should leave immediately. I told her we were headed home, just across the way, when my friend and I encountered the accident; and that I’d recently broken my elbow in a similar bike accident here and deeply cared about the outcome.
The firemen were examining Rebecca and Josh. Ben was still supporting Rebecca’s back when Sgt. Espinoza and Officer Gabriel grabbed him from behind without warning, putting him in an arm lock and jerked him backwards over the pavement. They told him sternly that he had to leave now that trained medical professionals had arrived, implying that he was interfering and justifying their violent actions. The officers dragged him across the sidewalk, propping him against the building. Rebecca was still holding Ben’s cellphone when she lost his support. “Where are they taking him?” she asked perplexedly.
It all happened within 5 minutes of the police’s arrival. The sirens and emergency vehicles, the sudden arrival of over half a dozen uniformed personnel, two of whom had grabbed my friend, transformed an intimate street scene into something chaotic. Officer Kaur shouted at me to cross the street. It was very sudden and I was, admittedly, in shock. I stammered that I intended to head home, but that my friend was over there. I pointed at Ben against the wall, and said I’d like to take him home with me.
Without warning, I was shoved from behind by Officer Gerrans and then collectively tackled by Officers Gerrans, Kaur and Andreotti. As they took me to the ground, one of the officers kneed me in the right temple. On the pavement, I begged them to watch out for my recently broken right elbow. Knees on my back and neck pinned me to the ground. I was cuffed and left face down.
I was not told that I was under arrest, what the charges were, nor read my rights. I rolled over onto my back so that I could see the arresting officers and ask them their intentions.
Officer Kaur pulled me up so that I was in a sitting position, and then stepped onto my handcuffed hands, grinding them into the pavement. I was so suddenly transported to a distant reality, that I was still coming to terms with its operating principles. “Is this protocol?” I inquired and instinctively wriggled my hands from under her boots. Officer Kaur had full control of me physically. Again, she stomped her boots on my hands, demanded that I “keep [my] hands on the ground,” pushed me back face down, and walked away.
You can read the rest of his account, where he was taken to prison, detained without charges, placed into solitary confinement, and eventually made his way out of the system. By my count [at least] the following illegalities were committed against Partinsky and his friend by the San Francisco Police Department.
- Denial of due process (see Professor Glenn Reynolds on A Due-Process Right To Record The Police, and Morgan Manning on Photographers’ Rights).
- False imprisonment.
- Assault and battery.
- Reckless endangerment.
The judges conspire with the police and don’t care about your rights (after all, those no-knock raids where cops point rifles at women and children require a warrant). The police will be immune from prosecution for abuse and illegalities (or otherwise from the consequences of their actions) as long as we allow it to happen.