**The following post was submitted via CopBlock.org’s submission tab, and written by Joshua D Martin.**
While riding my 49cc motor scooter toward Eastern Blvd at around 9:00pm, my headlights and tail lights simultaneously blew. This had happened to me before (due to a failing voltage regulator), and I knew of a Circle K on Eastern Blvd that sold the proper bulbs. I evaluated the situation, and decided that it was safe to continue riding. I based this decision on the fact that there was nearly zero traffic, and that there was an abundance of streetlights making my path clearly lit. As I rode, I passed two police cruisers which were parked in the median on Eastern Blvd. I rode past them, waving as I did so. They did not pull out and follow me. Then, about four or five blocks down the road, I noticed a pair of headlights in my mirror approaching quickly, which were then revealed to be the lights of one of the police cruisers from earlier, as the officer activated his emergency lights. At this point, I was about half a block from the entrance to the Circle K where I intended to purchase bulbs. I pulled into the lot, and parked in a parking spot just as I would have without the police interference, showing that I was indeed correct in judging that I could safely make it to the Circle K.
After pulling into the spot, I took my cellphone out of my pocket, sent a quick text to a friend stating that I had been pulled over, and then switched to video mode and hit record. The officer, along with three or four other officers behind him, approached me as I sat on my scooter. I informed the officer that I was recording the interaction for his safety and mine, at which point he stated, “It’s already being recorded, dude.” My answer was that his video is controlled by him and his people, and my video is controlled by me. He said, “Okay,” in a moment of mutual understanding.
His first action at this point was to ask me for identification, which I did not have on me at the moment. I stated that I did not feel that I was required to provide ID, as I was riding a 49cc scooter. He then told me to put my kickstand down. Rather than simply comply without having been given justification as to why, I asked the officer what grounds he had for asking me to step off. “It’s against the law to have a moped without a license,” he replied. In my understanding of the laws which were active at that time, his statement was completely false. I tried to explain to him that there was no such active, enforceable law. Rather than respectfully allow me to speak, he demanded that I “step off the moped,” yet had still not given a valid reason why I should surrender the immediate control of my physical property, that property being my scooter. So I asked the question that we should all ask during an encounter with a police officer, “Am I being detained, or am I free to go?” He answered that I was being detained, citing the reasoning that, “That moped is illegal.”
I attempted to explain to him that 49cc scooters do not have to have any form of license, but he continued to insist the opposite. He further stated, “You’re in violation of three laws. You have no license, no lights, and no ID.” To which I replied, “I am not legally required to provide ID.” The officer replied by continuing to insist that I “Step off the moped.” He then stated, “You’re going to be resisting arrest if I ask you one more time.” I objected by stating, “I’m not being arrested, am I?” He answered, “You.. you’re… you’re about to be.”
At this time, one of the officers who was standing slightly back and to the right of him started adding unnecessary stress to the situation by repetitively stating, “Let’s just taze him,” and, “Do what he tells you or I’m gonna taze you.” Due to this alarming threat to my safety, I stood up and said, “There, I’m standing up, is that better?”
As I was standing astride my scooter, I asked, “What have I done wrong?”
The officer once again described the “three laws” which I was supposedly in violation of. I explained that I was unaware of any law requiring licensing or identification to ride a 49cc motor scooter. He stated that he would, “show me the law.” I replied by asking how one could be held accountable for an obviously new law when one has never been made aware of said law. He had no ready answer, and barely a reply.
This entire time, the officer beside/behind him is still repeating, “Let’s just tase him. Let’s tase him,” in as sinister a tone as one can imagine.
The leading officer then added an absurd claim by saying, “aaaand you were speeding.” I say this is absurd because the particular scooter I was standing astride was barely capable of reaching 35 miles per hour, let alone exceeding that speed. Thirty-five miles per hour happened to be the speed limit on that street, so I knew that this was a “tacked on charge” that held zero grounds in reality. I quickly replied, “I was not speeding, sir. Do you have me on radar?”
There was no chance for the officer to reply, because at this point, his fellow officer switched from saying, “Let’s just tase him,” to, “I’m gonna tase him,” at which point he proceeded to grab the opening of my helmet, pulling my head and, by extension, my entire body, toward him, while he shoved a taser against my abdomen and forced me down onto the ground. Several other officers joined the scuffle as the taser continued to pulse its voltage into my abdomen. The tasing officer then attempted to remove my cellphone from my hand. I would not release my grip on the phone, so he proceeded to slam my hand onto the blacktop, fingers down, and drag it back and forth across rocky pavement, causing open, bleeding lacerations to my knuckles and fingers. This did not yield the phone releasing result he wanted, so he proceeded to tase me a second time, this time closer to my chest. This also did not cause me to release the phone, so he continued to hold the taser against me. As I was being tased, I was able to say to him, “You have no right to do this. You’re going to answer for the wrongs you are doing to me. I have done nothing to deserve this treatment.”
As he finally released the taser, I demanded to see a supervisor, to which the original officer to whom I had been speaking stated, “I am the supervisor.” This led me to demand that his superior officer be present before any further action was taken because I did not agree with the treatment I was receiving under his supervision. There was no reply to this. I still had the phone in my hand, and at this point stated, “I do not consent to have my personal property removed from my physical person. If my cellphone is to be removed from my hand for any reason, it is to be placed in my right front coat pocket.” To which there was a calming of the physical aggression which the officer who was still on top of me had continued to perpetuate.
They at this point stood me up, told me to put my hands behind my back, and proceeded to handcuff me and walk me over toward a police cruiser. I was rather shaken, if not completely traumatized by this point. It’s hard to fully express the feeling of defeated abuse I was experiencing at this point. Utter hopelessness in regards to having any lawful rights to speak of.
Sadly, this was not the end of the abuse, as my helmet was still securely strapped onto my head, and the officers had no intention of removing it in a sensible manner. A fairly large officer decided it was his job to remove my helmet by whatever means necessary. It would have been a simple job of releasing the chin strap, removing my eyeglasses, and then pulling the full-face helmet up and off of my head. Rather, it became quite obvious that this officer’s adrenaline levels were far too high for him to think rationally because at this point, he grabbed the opening of my helmet and began a several minute long attempt to remove it without releasing the chin strap or removing my eyeglasses. He made this attempt by pulling as hard as his 300 plus pounds of muscle and weight could muster. He pulled me nearly off my feet, then back and forth, up and down, side to side, as hard as he could, all while being in what appeared to be a complete rage, all while my hands were securely cuffed behind my back, and all while the other officers just looked on as though this was completely normal behavior. As the raging officer made his violent attempt at motorcycle helmet removal, my neck, which to this day has two bulging discs due to a prior automobile accident, began to hurt fairly bad. I pleaded with him to have some humanity and release the strap first. Sadly and violently the situation continued. It got to the point that he finally calmed down and realized that there was no other way to remove the helmet. (During his rage he had even threatened to cut it off of me!) Thankfully, he finally realized that the sensible choice would be to simply unstrap the helmet. However, he did not care that I was wearing eyeglasses nor that I was pleading with him to make sure he removed them before removing the helmet. Instead, after unstrapping the helmet he pulled upward quickly and harshly without removing my glasses. This caused them to lightly scratch my temple and then become entangled in my hair. As if I hadn’t been traumatized enough, by this point I was shocked to the brink of basic dissociation from my normal self. I was in a state of disbelief. Shaken. Pushed beyond reasonable expectation.
At this point, the original officer began speaking to another officer in a third police cruiser who had remained in his vehicle during the scuffle.
“Get that pamphlet about the moped laws,” he stated.
“Okay,” the other officer replied. There was a long pause here as the officer in the car glanced over the pamphlet regarding the new moped laws. “OH! It says we have to give them ’til July 1st!” He excitedly claimed, but he was hushed by the original officer. I clearly heard the original officer shhssh the officer in the car, and saw him make hand motions to the effect of, “Stay quiet, don’t say anything about that.”
As expected, nobody mentioned that fact again, nor did I, for fear that they would be driven to take some sort of negative action in response. After hearing the officer “shhshh” the other officer, it became apparent to me that the “three laws” to which the original officer had continually referred were most likely not at all enforceable at that time. Instead of mentioning this possibly anger inducing idea, I instead began to apologize, stating that I had never intended for there to be any violence, nor would I have ever initiated any violent act toward the officers. They told me that it was too late, that I was going to jail on multiple charges. We conversed for some considerable amount of time while we waited for the largest of the town’s tow trucks to come and tow away my tiny 49cc Tank brand economy model scooter. While we conversed, the original officer, by this point the arresting officer, told me that his original intentions had been to simply give me a warning about the headlights and the moped license, and that if I had just stepped off of the moped like he had asked, then he would have given me the warning and let me go. He stated that because I had made it to my destination and had pulled into a legal parking spot, there would have been little he could do in the way of giving me any form of moving or traffic violations or towing my scooter. He said he would have simply asked me to make sure I bought new bulbs from the Circle K before continuing on my way.
This led to some inner confusion, as I had initially asked if I was being detained. It raised the question: Is it legal to detain an individual for the purpose of giving them a warning? Also, why did the officer consider it necessary to have me step off of my scooter simply to give me a warning? When I asked the officer this, he stated that “It just makes it easier to talk face to face.” There was no reason why continuing to stay on my scooter would have in any way interfered with the officer giving me a warning. There was no inherent danger to the officer, there was no crime committed, no risk to anyone, and no harm had been done to any persons or property. Yet apparently, it was deemed a lawful request by an officer that I step off of my scooter, and because I had failed to do so, they were taking me to jail on charges of RESISTING LAW ENFORCEMENT and DISORDERLY CONDUCT.
After the tow truck left, the arresting officer and the officer in charge of violently removing my helmet loaded me into the back of their cruiser and we conversed on the way to jail. My glasses were still hanging from my hair as I asked the officers about my cellphone. I hadn’t noticed the moment that it was removed from my hand, and was at this point concerned about whether or not it was still recording. (It turns out that it had stopped recording the first time they tased me, but I didn’t know that until after being booked in to the jail.) The officers responded that their sergeant had placed my cellphone in my right front coat pocket.
I then asked the large officer in the passenger seat if he would remove my glasses from my hair and place them on my face. He refused. I asked him again. He refused. Again I asked him the third time, by this time pleading with him. He agreed to take them from my hair and hold on to them for me, but I pleaded that I did not want to lose them, and that I would feel more comfortable to have them on my face. The officer finally relented and placed them comfortably on my face. I thanked him tremendously, and we began a conversation in which we discussed the way that most people view police officers, and the abundance of videos on the web involving police brutality and abuse of authority. The police officers both shared their viewpoints with me in that just as there are good and bad people, there are also good and bad officers. It was weird to be having a calm, rational conversation with these two officers as fellow humans on the same level, rather than an authority-to-subject type conversation. They told me that during their time talking to me as we waited for the tow truck, they realized that I’m actually a nice guy, and that I probably didn’t mean them any harm, and basically admitted that the adrenaline of the situation had exaggerated the severity of the situation, causing them to act in a manner that they otherwise would not have wished for. They even stated that they would have liked to have met me in better circumstances, as they could tell I was a pretty cool guy. Maybe it was the trauma speaking, or maybe it was due to them “buttering me up,” or maybe it was a legitimate feeling, but I began to be aware that these two guys were just average people trying to do what they believed they were supposed to do, but who also became a victim of the hype, excitement, and adrenaline caused by the situation. The worst offender in this case was the officer who can be heard in the background of my video callously repeating, “Let’s just tase him.” As I believe this to be the main contributing factor in all of the violence. Had I not been attacked, I would have had time to discuss the legality of the situation, and request a superior officer, who would have likely been much more willing to evaluate the situation objectively. (This is, however speculation, and I will cease to venture in the direction of subjective opinion, allowing the reader to come to their own thoughts and conclusions concerning the officers and the what-ifs.)
Later, at the jail, I was booked in without much mentionable circumstance. They allowed me to write down some phone numbers from my contact list, at which point I checked on the status of the video, and was almost reprimanded when I hit play to make sure that the footage had been recorded. I stopped the video immediately and continued to write down all of the phone numbers I thought would be helpful if I was to spend any considerable time in jail. I noticed that my phone had deep scratches all over it, though it had been purchased new only a few weeks before.
I spent three hours in jail. After having some nicely intellectual conversations with my fellow inmates about how we couldn’t have paid any amount of cash for this experience, and how they had taken everything but our ability to think and speak, I was called out from my cell to begin the release process, as somebody had paid my bond. This was good news for me, so I began to feel rather jovial, as can be expected. This came to a halt, however, when I went up to the desk to sign some paperwork regarding my release. The attending officer at the desk handed me paper after paper, which I proceeded to read through and sign as quickly and thoroughly as I could. Then I came to a document concerning the release of my physical property. I usually have a lot of items in my pockets, as I have much of my life, so I knew they had a good amount of my belongings in their possession, and had even seen them remove a sealed bag of my belongings from under the counter, yet for some reason, the document I was looking at and expected to sign said, “NO PROPERTY RELEASED.” Now, this caused me some understandable confusion and concern, so I asked the attending officer why it said, “NO PROPERTY RELEASED” when they obviously had some of my belongings in their possession. The officer became very angry, raising his voice to a yell and said, “YOU DON’T HAVE TO SIGN ANYTHING!!!!” I explained that I had not intended to make him angry, but that I simply wanted to understand the paperwork to which I was to ascribe my legal-binding signature. He then with a red face yelled, “If you want to make this difficult, I can make it just as difficult for you. I can just place you right back into that cell and keep you here til next shift, and I can just tell next shift to do the same thing, and we can end up keeping you here for as long as you want to keep making this difficult for us!” I stated that I was still not going to sign the confusing document, at which point he screamed, “FINE!” I then apologized once more as another officer calmly asked me to walk back to my cell. I did so feeling extremely helpless. Thankfully, somebody either talked some sense into him or stepped in to initiate the proper proceeding on his behalf because I was released shortly afterward. All the while I kept talking to the angry officer behind the desk, asking him why he had become so angry, and explaining to him my reasoning behind not wanting to sign the document. He angrily told me that he was not going to answer any of my questions, so I left him alone as I stood waiting for the officer who I had been told was on his way to escort me outside the building.
Later, finally at home, when I reviewed the paperwork, there was included among my documents a copy of a ticket issued by the arresting officer for “no headlights” with the date of trial being set as “jail.” Having blown lights on a 49cc scooter is definitely no grounds on which to take somebody to jail, nor even to have them step off of a scooter or moped for that matter. There were no charges filed whatsoever for having no license and no Identification, though those were two of the “three laws” which I had supposedly been breaking, and which gave the officer his supposed authority to have me step off my scooter in the first place.
Not a single officer involved that day identified himself, even when asked directly.
They were all members of the Clarksville Police Department in Clarksville, Indiana.
(I have the name of the arresting officer on a piece of paperwork which I do not have access to at this current location, but I will likely update this post with further information as time progresses. )
So far I have had one appearance before the judge and several pre-trial conferences, During the appearance before the judge, he read me my rights (the first time anyone involved in this had read me any rights at all, I must add), stating “You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed to you.” When asked if I understood my rights, I told him that I had one question. What if I COULD afford a lawyer, but chose not to hire one. He then stated that I have the right to represent myself pro-se. I have refused to accept several plea bargains in which they tried to convince me to plead guilty and pay them $162 in court costs with no further action taken. They have repeatedly scheduled pre-trial conferences during which they repeatedly made the same offer. Each time I refused, they instructed me to get a lawyer. I asked the prosecuting attorney what his thought were on self-representation, to which he replied, “You’ll have a fool for a client,” after which set a later pre-trial date and instructed me to get a lawyer by that point, which I did not. Rather than take a plea bargain, I requested a jury trial, which was set to occur around August 11th, but has since been rescheduled to sometime in mid-October due to the fact that the arresting officer would not have been able to appear at the August court date. I have completed and Indiana Torte Claim Notice, a copy of which I mailed to the Indiana Office of the Attorney General as instructed on the form and also handed another copy to the clerk at the Clarksville Police Department with instructions that it be given to the Clarksville Chief of Police, as a good friend (who has also been my lawyer off an on for some time) instructed me to do. I currently await the trial, and actually most likely file to have the trial forwarded until such a time as the Clarksville Chief of Police and the Indiana Attorney General are able to review and respond to the Torte Claim Notice.
To this day, I have not re-acquired my scooter, as the impound fees were far more than I could afford to pay after reimbursing the person who had paid my bond. I also never received my helmet. I called the impound lot and left what I referred to as a “demand for the return of property” on their voicemail, and on the voicemail of the city traffic department. This expectedly yielded no results. Thus I’m left waiting for the trial date.
I have presented this information as clearly, accurately, and thoroughly as I could at this time. Thank for taking the time to review this and make your own assessments.
– Joshua D Martin
[I’ve reached out to Joshua for officers names, fine documentation and upcoming court dates. Will update post when information is available.]