Should my parents pursue this matter of mistreatment by police?
March 30, 2014 8:11 AM Subscribe
Should my parents pursue this matter of civil rights, social justice, and mistreatment by police?
posted by 1270AEH to Law & Government (25 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
In looking over some other questions about legal matters, I see the prevailing attitude from the hive mind is "get a lawyer." So, please bear in mind that my question is not about the legal matter as much as it's about assessing the police/courts/legal culture.
My parents are highly educated, progressive people who are lifelong political activists. My father, a physicist, was driving home from work one evening when he was stopped by a sherrif's deputy for "crossing the fog line." (That's a solid white line at the right side of the road). From our research online, we find that this is not a traffic offense in our state.
My father used no profanity, made no threatening gestures toward the officer, but did question why he had been stopped for such a minor matter in which no law had been broken. He did get out of his car.
The next thing he knew, the officer had called for backup, and very quickly three other men arrived. They slapped handcuffs on my father and arrested him. The charges are "obstruction" and "resisting arrest." They took him to jail, where four jailers removed his glasses and literally threw him down onto the floor of a cell. My father is 67 years old. The four large men then got on top of him and pressed him down.
He was kept in the cell from 7 p.m. till about 1:30 a.m. in the morning, not allowed to make any phone calls. My mother was at home with my profoundly autistic brother, increasingly worried at his absence, unable to reach him by phone. At midnight she took my brother and went searching for my father, driving to his workplace and finding his car not there, then retracing the route he takes from work, checking ditches along the way to look for accidents.
At 1:15 a.m. she got a call from the police, who asked her to "verify my father's information," so that he could be released on his own recognizance. She did, and my father was released then, taking a cab home since his car had been impounded.
While in jail, my father became aware of many Hispanic prisoners who were also being abused, as he had been.
In addition to my parents' extremely angry reaction about my father's treatment, my parents are very concerned about minority people, or any person without resources, in that situation.
Our question is: We have been aware that in most "traffic cases" in our area, the judge always believes the police officers and does not even allow citizens to state their views of what happened. We are wondering if the same would be true of our charges of the unwarranted and brutal treatment my father received from the arresting officer(s), and especially from the four jailers.
My parents are wondering if pursuing this matter would be worth the time, energy, and financial resources it would demand. In their decades of political activism, they have learned to "choose your battles." What are the chances of a fair and just outcome? Thanks, everyone, for your thoughts on this matter.