Shame On You, Syracuse Police!
Calling 911 on the Syracuse Police Department
Sometimes you see things that change your whole perspective on an issue for better or for worse; unfortunately this time around, it was not for the better. My name is Brittany Pupello and I’m a twenty-three year old white female living in Syracuse on the north side. Let me state first and foremost that I’ve never had a criminal record or been arrested for anything in my life. I moved to Syracuse around five years ago from a small town up north to further my education and, ultimately, my life. I grew up with my mom being a single parent and raising three children on her own; I am the only girl and the middle child. Currently I work at Dominick’s Restaurant on Burnet Ave. as a part-time server so that I can go to my other job as a full-time student at Lemoyne College. I’m in my third year and I hold a B+ average, with a major in Business and Marketing. School and education has always been important to me because I see the value in getting a better understanding of the world so that one day I can do something significant enough to make my very own foot-print. I’ve always seen the potential that Syracuse city has to offer and have been slowly watching it bloom with new architecture and a solid business foundation that seems to grow every day. Telling you this background information is completely necessary to give you an idea about what kind of person I am. I’m a good person, a hard-worker, I enjoy being a part of my community and I have a need to succeed in life.
After half a semester down at school, I decided I was going to have a Halloween party with some friends to just let loose and have a good time; not something I get to do too often with work and school. It was set Saturday the 27th, it was the House of Tuttney’s (my roommate and my nickname) Halloween Bash and we went all out. We decorated for three days, spent over five hundred buck for food, decorations and the booze of course. We hired a DJ for the night and let the neighbors know they were more than welcome to join in, and they did. So the party was off to a great start the spirit of Halloween was alive and well. Everyone was having good time, I’d say there was a good twenty people present which isn’t much for my house as it’s pretty spacious. Eleven turned to twelve, twelve turned to one and one turned into the hour that my whole perspective changed on my rights to freedom as an American citizen. Two cops approached my door around one thirty after already trespassing through my front gate without permission.
They came up to the front door and demanded to come in. My friend told them that they were not welcome to come in but that she would go get the home owners to try and resolve the problem. They were there for a noise complaint which I thought was weird seeing as how they were there a half hour before handing out parking tickets in front of my house and there are no neighbors close enough to complain. Once I was told they were here I was the first one outside out of my two other roommates. They told me that I had to end the party and kick everyone out, never giving me an option to turn the music down or bring everyone inside off my porch, nothing they said to kick everyone out and that I would be ticketed as well. As soon as I started to try to reason with them about not ending the whole party a cop by the name of (cop 1) grabbed by my arm and started pushing me towards the gate. I was scared at that point so I started walking out, in no way, shape or form did I know what was to happen as soon as we turned the corner and lost visibility of the rest of the people at the party. The cop grabbed both of my arms and started twisting them behind my back and kept telling me to “shut the fuck up.” When I started screaming that he was hurting me he just kept tightening them harder and said something that will never sit well in my stomach, “You better shut the fuck up you prissy fucking bitch, you’re not getting away with shit.” I knew at that point that there was no turning back, I was going to jail.
The whole ride to the station I just kept hearing his words and thinking “getting away with what?” Oh, and let me just add Jennifer and myself were never read our Miranda rights. Once we got to the jail the officer yanked me out of the car with one hand around my upper arm asked me if I was ready to start talking. I told him he didn’t need to touch me seeing how I was handcuffed and now in the police building. He replied with, “What the fuck did you just say to me?” Once again he tightened his hand around my arm really hard and threw me into the cage down on the bench. The only thing I could do at this point was cry so that’s all I did, cry and think to myself it’s all a bad dream and how could these other officers see he was hurting me and not say a word?!
My best friend and roommate was also arrested and taken in a separate police van, she too had been brought in to the police station and was thrown in the cage. However, contrary to the way I was feeling Jen was more angry than anything else. What they failed to write in her police report was that she saw the way the whole thing went down, how the cop grabbed me and started pushing me for no reason. Jennifer was there to make sure her best friend didn’t go down alone so unjustly and for that I can never thank her enough. I won’t go explicitly in to her side of the story because I know she plans to write her version as well. After leaving the cages we had to give up all our belongings and blow into a breathalyzer test. I blew a .03 while Jennifer blew a .06. This means that we both literally had a couple beers in our system so none of our behavior stemmed from the alcohol. Once we were brought in they made us strip down completely naked in front of some woman and do a very classy “cough test” where you squat naked and cough to make sure there isn’t anything hiding in your rear end. Talk about degrading. We were given jail clothes we had to put on, everything down to our underwear and bra. Next we were thrown in a holding cell without any sort of direction as to what was going on or what was to happen next. So a brief description for those who haven’t had the luxury of experiencing the holding cells in jail. They are unheated, and not just cold, I’m talking freezing to where your pulling your sweatshirt (if you’re lucky enough to have) down over your legs and curling up in a ball just to stay from shivering. (Oh and a side note don’t bother asking for another sweatshirt because they won’t give it to you even though they have fifty extra.) There is no hand soap for after your done going to the bathroom and as well as no drinking fountain so unless you can bang on the door for long and hard enough to get someone’s attention then you go without anything to drink. The walls are covered in an array of different substances just a few being dirty hand prints and food. The floors look like they’ve never been cleaned before and seeing as how I had to lay on them for a good few hours because there wasn’t enough seating on the cement to go around it made the stench of urine and dirt that much harder to bear.
So here it was; the waiting game. Something told me we were not going to win. They eventually pulled us out for finger printing and told us that court was set for 9am the next morning. This meant we had roughly six or seven hours to go before we could even be seen by a judge to think about going home. Meanwhile, I’ll have you keep in mind that two house owners are in jail with no idea of the state of our house, belongings or pets. While in the holding cell it reminded me somewhat of what you see in the movies, everyone coming together and telling their story of how they ended up in there. One girl that I encountered especially stuck out because she said she had been in that holding cell for three days without them letting her have a shower or anything all because she violated probation. I get it, I’m not saying that a line has to be drawn somewhere when people mess up but three days in those conditions when she still had two to go, I would never wish that on my worst enemy.
I went through six hours of hearing and seeing horror stories of all types until finally it was 9 am and some kind of relief passed over my body like cool breeze, a sign of hope that this horrible nightmare would come to an end. After the trial I started to perk up a bit because I knew that meant it was time to be released or at least that’s what I thought. Once again I was terribly mistaken because they kept us in the holding cell for another four hours until I couldn’t take it anymore. I started knocking on the glass door to see what was going on, the workers would all look at me like I was some kind of caged animal but never came to ask me what I wanted. So I started banging on the door: I was freezing, exhausted, starving and I’d had enough. Finally a police officer approached me and kindly said, “What the fuck do you want”?! He scared the crap out of me but at that point I just didn’t care anymore. I asked him what was going on, what was taking so long and when would we be released. The officer decided that would be the moment to get his “sick kicks” out on me because he replied with an “Oh, you want to get out do you? Hey John [police officer up at desk], you better start doing your fucking job, this girl wants to go home!” The other officer began to laugh hysterically. I knew at that point in time that I was in hell except the role of the devil had been equally distributed to all the members of this so called “elite” workforce. Much to my surprise ten minutes later a different officer came over with the officer that just made a mockery out of me.
First he called Jennifer out, then me. When I came out he said that I had to apologize to the other cop for “running my fucking mouth” to him or else they would keep me in that cell until midnight that night. I sucked up my pride and began to apologize and crumbled saying that I was sorry, I was so tired and hungry…I was quickly cut off by a “shut the fuck up and stop acting like a fucking retard.” They did it; they managed to completely break my innocent spirit that I held onto so hard the whole time I was there. We changed our clothes (back into my belly dancer outfit with no shoes) and they sent us on our way out but not without one last kick to the back of our legs. When walking through the Metal Detector it went off because we had our jewelry in hand. Jennifer said to me as I looked back when it went off “don’t worry about it, we’re leaving”…just stating the obvious. The cop up at the desk replied with “Yeah, no shit!” Luckily Jens mom was waiting for us out in her car though it was a ways of a walk with no shoes and hardly any clothes; my feet were numb by the time we actually got to the car.
After arriving home and seeing our pets were okay, we were assessing the damage of everything. A few broken things and some money and credit cards were stolen, all because our house was left unattended. We’re actually very fortunate it wasn’t more.
What do I want out of this, what’s the point of me even writing this? I want to be heard. For that half a day that was snatched from me with no voice and no rights that are entitled to me as a hard working and good-intentioned member of our community, I want someone (or many people preferably) to read this and say shame on you to the officer that decided it was okay to man handle a 125 pound woman, because no one ever stepped in before and told him he wasn’t allowed to do that. I want further investigation into the corruption that’s taking place in the police system that seems to be a reoccurring thing with the Syracuse District. I want a few so-called “men” to lose their jobs that they don’t deserve to have, to feel an ounce of the pain I felt and am still feeling everyday having to think about what happened. I now have to take time, energy and money out of my pocket to try to fight for justice to be served. I’ve never really been intimidated by much my whole life, that’s just the way I am. However, when Monday came and I had to sign terms and conditions of my “pre-trial release” downtown at the civic center my heart was pounding at the thought of seeing that officer again.
Why is it that I have to be fearful of seeing someone who is given a job in the community I live in “to serve and protect the people?” I will be pressing charges on the officer that threw me around and I will be taking my story as public as I possibly can so that I can prevent this from happening to another innocent person. Please share my story and consider this happening to your daughter, sister or mother…it’s just simply not right.