DUI Stop Becomes One of the Worst Nights of My Life
The following story via CopBlock.org’s ‘submit‘ page.
I was arrested last year during a DUI stop in downtown Sacramento, off I & 12th by Sacramento County CHP.
What turned into a routine DUI stop turned into one of the worst nights of my life.
I had given myself over to be arrested (I didn’t feel intoxicated, but sac police are notorious for false arrests and police brutality–I didn’t want to risk it), and was walking to the back of the car, when suddenly I overheard my arresting officer (R.E. Smeja) saying “the breathalyzer didn’t return a reading.” I then asked, “Why are you arresting me then? What did the breathalyzer say?” The officer then informed me that it was CHP policy that they did not have to inform me what the breathalyzer result was. He then slipped up and said he couldn’t get a valid reading for the breathalyzer. I then asked him, “Why are you arresting me, then? What law says you can arrest me?” Had I known my rights at the time, I wouldn’t have answered a single fucking question and I would have flat out refused the breathalyzer, field sobriety test, and blood draw–losing my license for a year would have been completely fine for me, if I knew what was about to happen.
The second time I asked for the breathalyzer result, the officer exploded, saying, “I don’t have to tell you shit, motherfucker.” It should be noted that my left hand was cuffed to my belt, while my right hand was in a full length hard-cast that runs to my elbow and was being restrained with an elbow lock by CHP Officer R.E. Smeja. He claims in his police report that he left my arm free (untrue). He then forced me into the back of the car by twisting my elbow, which in turn was exacerbating the severe pain in my right arm. While attempting to twist my arm, he pushed me into the back of the car, stomach first. I’m 6’2”, 220 pounds. I was being folded into the car, front first, my back cracking. I screamed in pain and yelled to my 2 passengers for help, because I knew I was about to get my ass whooped. Sure enough, his partner, Officer K. White, immediately came over, put me in a sort of headlock, unholstered his Mag Lite, and started beating the shit out of me with it. The only thing I remember with absolute clarity is blood covering my eyes and watching it spurt all over the place. R.E. Smeja, who has a severe height disadvantage over me, was punching me in the gut, the knees, the balls, my back and my chest – he wasn’t tall enough to reach my face. I was trying to bulldoze through them both to get away with my shoulders as my arm was useless at this point from how fucking badly it hurt; it felt like he had broken it again. They kicked me away from them at which point, (according to my 2 witnesses), they tazed me. I did not believe it until I got home from jail and looked at my back and elbow and saw two deep gashes that resembled barbed inserts from a tazer weapon. Immediately after being tazed, I crashed to the ground, at which point K. White removed from his holster his O/C spray and EMPTIED THE ENTIRE canister on my face and on my head, even where my head was split open, in what felt like a period of around 5 seconds. The pain was so incredibly intense that I started crying like a little girl. I’ve never felt anything like OC spray in my life. I literally felt like I was being face-fucked by lava.
They then put a black bag over my head which they called a spit bag. They claimed it was to protect themselves from my blood and spit, in case I decided to share some of my fluids with them. Usually that isn’t supposed to be put on your head until AFTER you actually spit on an officer. While this bag was over my head, I began choking on my own blood, mucus, residual OC spray, and vomit. The fire department came, and the CHP officers shoo’d them away to take me to an unmarked building in south Sac. (I later found out that, as a fire fighter, if you allow someone to ‘shoo’ you away from someone with an open head wound, it is illegal and punishable by determination from your department). After the firefighters left, one officer said, “You can get up, or I can drag you.” I told them to fuck off. I was humiliated and felt defeated at this point. He dug my face into the ground with one hand, and dragged me slowly across the concrete and into the car.
The CHP officers then proceeded to drive erratically and they did not buckle me in the back of their car. I flailed around the back as this guy drove around 90-100mph on the highway, making illegal lane changes and sharp maneuvers. I was hitting my head on the cage, the backseat, and the windows. They then pulled me out of the car once we got to this facility, where they threw me on the ground and began reading me what they were going to charge me with:
R.E. Smeja: “Let’s see.. Battery of a peace officer. 243(c)2. Resisting arrest. PC 69. DUI. Hey, White.. He has a hard-cast on. Howard, I’m going to charge you with attempted murder and assault on a peace officer with a deadly weapon. The D.A. is going to lock you up for a long time. Learn your fucking place.” (This is not verbatim, but it’s damn close to what he said to best of my memory)
Smeja claimed that I had put him in a headlock and sprawled him on the ground. I found that claim interesting considering K. White had me in a standing half-nelson during the entire battery.
They brought in a nurse and had my blood drawn. I was then transported to Sutter Memorial hospital in Downtown, Sac.
There, at the hospital, I was denied water for 7 hours. I had my head stapled back together and the officers wanted me to pee for them. They refused to let me take a shit for the entire 7 hours. He said he wanted me to go to jail with shit in my pants, so I said “Fine, I’m going to shit on the fucking ground in front of you then.” He said if I did that he would shoot me. I then told him I wouldn’t piss for him if he wouldn’t let me shit. Smeja threatened to stab me with a catheter and draw my urine himself. My heartbeat was erratic, maintaining a pulse of over 150 bpm for at least 4 hours. I felt like I was going to die and that my heart would explode out of my chest. All I needed was some water, yet they refused and accused me of being doped up on meth-amphetamines and cocaine. Eventually my urine came back clean, except for trace amounts of marijuana in my system from a J I had smoked earlier.
Finally, I got booked and thrown into Sac. County on a PC243(c)(2), PC69, and 2 DUI charges. My bail was $50,000. I was fucked, I didn’t have the money for it.
Eventually, my family hired an amazing attorney who was able to get my bail cut in half. He fought my charges, getting my felonies reduced to misdemeanors, with one of them getting dropped.
We subpoenaed for the squad car Audio and Video. They told us there was none and that they refused to turn any over. They took photos of me at the hospital and of themselves, and refused to turn over these photos.
My stay of execution date is June 14, 2013. I go to jail for 180 days in 2 weeks and I’m really depressed, but it’s much better than going to state prison for 2 years unlawfully, like countless other victims of police brutality have. I will be out in 90 days on good time credit assuming I don’t have to defend myself in jail and risk getting adbooked.
If I could do anything over, I would never have consented to any field tests, breathalyzers, or blood draws. I wouldn’t have answered any of the officers’ probing questions, and I wouldn’t have said shit to them. I wish I knew then what I know now.
May my story be one that you guys can take something from. If you read this, thank you for your time, I appreciate it.
I have no criminal record save for a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge when I was younger, which I received while with my friends on a beach in SF, California.