This article was written by Court Thomas and shared via CopBlock.org’s submit tab.
DAY 1 – Easter Sabbath
I worked in the Disney area as a Quality Control man for Vacation Homes. I love this job very much, but because of religious beliefs, as a 7th Day Ethiopian Orthodox Christian (Rastafarian Sect), the only thing I ever deplored about it was having to work on the Sabbath.
On the Sabbath before Easter, Saturday April 30, 2013, I awoke with a severe backache, which was painful from the night before, and could not call in sick because it was Easter weekend and was told by management none could be off on Easter weekend. I came to work walking at an angle and not straight upright due to the mysterious back-pain.
I had four homes in the Hampton Lakes sub-division off Highway 27 in Polk County, Florida. This was the next to last community on my list of checks to do for the day. At 3:35 PM, As I entered the development I noticed the officer in an unmarked car parked reverse in a precarious position in the middle of the entrance to Hampton Lakes development. I had an idea what he was up to. I was profiled when coming into the development.
As I was Quality checking the 2nd home in Hampton Lakes, I was called by the office wanting me to be sure to return a Key because a customer came in a bit early to check-in and the key was needed. Usually we collect 2 keys to avoid such a scenarios. That day, this was not done, probably because of the high Easter volume, 2 keys – one for QC and the other for the customer.
Therefore, by the end of checking the last house in Hampton Lakes, I had less than 15 minutes to check another house across the street (Highway 27) in Westridge, and then return the key to the office at 192 and 1-4.
As I was about to leave the Hampton Lakes development, going 25 miles per hour or possibly a little above, a very young Polk county Sheriff officer, named Officer Node, who was less than half my age, flashed his lights to pull me over. I immediately stopped in surprise as to why.
He came charging to the car like a Spanish Bull, shouting in a very disrespectful and unprofessional manner ordering me to show my driving information. As I was getting out the wallet, I asked, “What did I do wrong officer?” He then yelled that I was going 35 in a 25 mile zone, which I knew I was NOT! I started becoming very nervous due to the shouting and profane words hurdling at me.
He then yelled that I was not moving fast enough and ordered me out of the car. With my heart beating nearly through my throat, and with the car in neutral, engine still running, I proceeded to place the car’s gear shift in the parking position prior to opening the door. The officer then pulled me out of the car shouting profane curse words, untruthful statements that I was not listening fast enough. By this time I was scared as hell! He then slammed me against the car said to put my arms behind my back. I asked which was up or down and why the officer was acting that way, while the officer was still shouting, not listening or responding to what I was asking.
He rammed his knee in my aching back, pushed me on the pavement of the open street stating, “You’re going down today, buddy!” The left cheek of my face, my right elbows, both my knees and my left hip-bone now hurt like hell.
I was then hurriedly forced into his unmarked squad car and locked in there for at least an hour. It was intensely hot and stuffy – windows shut tight and NO AIR, except on his side of the squad car. I felt tormented and tortured by this CRUEL experience which I’d only ever seen in the media; never in a wild nightmare did I think it would happen to me.
My driver’s license was ran and there was a suspension on there that I thought was already taken of. The driving class ordered by the the court/Tallahassee was completed over 2 weeks ago. Even after emailing the completion certificate, the completion was NOT entered into the system. I did not realize I had to physically appear at the DMV to pay another FEE and show more proof of the class for reinstatement.
I was profiled and excessively dragged out of the car I was driving, beaten and arrested by Officer Node, the young Sheriff officer of Polk County, Florida, old enough to be my son.
He was large and quite heavy. I grew up very non-confrontational and throughout my 54 years of life I tend to avoid confrontations at all costs! I was therefore very scared and embarrassed.
The undue aggressive use of force seemed to have been caused by some pent up frustrations the officer had prior to the event.
While handcuffed, the car was searched and all my private belongings were completely combed through by assistant officers who arrived on the scene. My home in Daytona Beach had out of state visitors for a week, so I took all my sensitive paperwork and very private belongings out of the home and into the car’s truck and car’s rear. I was surprised by the search of my privacy.
After the search, I was confronted about the driver’s license issue and the unopened beer in grocery bags in the car, and because my auxiliary wallet was found in the car’s trunk. I was questioned as to why my FL license was suspended, why I had an old California expired license, an extra copy of Florida license in the wallet, Jamaican and other International currency in the auxiliary wallet, and also questioned as to if I had a Jamaican driver’s license also.
I then answered that I had NO Jamaican license; I learned to drive in the USA when I was a college kid. I travel to other many other countries on 3 continents plus the Caribbean, and that a class was completed so I was surprised by the remaining suspension, thinking it was all cleared up. He then stated they found contraband, of which I did not recall any was there in my private belongings, and for all I know, may have been planted.
The hot squad car and extremely tight hand was unbearable torture, I felt dizzy and very faint. After asking to speak to another older officer. I begged for air or to stretch my legs.
It was the last day of LENT season and I was fasting, so the experience with hunger, no air, heat, and no water for so long in the squad car, made me very lethargic.
He then threatened to tow the car. I STILL HAD THE KEY THE CUSTOMER WAS WAITING ON. I explained this to them, and after an hour or so of pleading and begging them to call the office, they did, using the number saved in my private cell phone.
Matt Collins, my immediate supervisor, took his time out from the busy office with another co-worker to come get the car.
After Matt was gone with the car, I began pleading and begging again for air, to loosen the cuffs to a more comfortable setting, and to stretch my legs in the cramped squad car with virtually no leg room. By this time, my wrists were in severe pain and the skin ruptured in the cuffs.
I was questioned by another curious officer about my Ethio-Jamaican Orthodox Christian beliefs (Rastafarian) and their usage of Marijuana as a religious ritual by a sizable population of Jamaicans. I told him because the first plant was found on King Solomon’s grave and it’s the weed of wisdom spoken of in Genesis 1:12) “He gave hemp for people to use with our free will. … yielding her fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” Rastafarians believe the HUMAN BODY IS THE TEMPLE OF THE LORD, not just a Physical Temple such as a Church building. In preparation for worship or deep reasoning, The Rastafarians burn it in the Holy Bodily Temple, much the same as the Catholics burn Frankinscence & Myrrh in the Physical Temple of God or Chirch Building.
I then proceeded to explain about the Rastafarian faith and Bibical story about meeting of the famous Hebrew King Solomon and his affairs with the famous Ethiopian-African Queen Makeda of Sheba, and how their son, the 1st Son of Solomon and heir to the throne of Ancient Israel, took the Israelite faith and the Ark of the Covenant the God gave to Moses to safety in the Ethiopian highlands., and the 3000 year reign of Isrealite-Ethiopian Kings from King Menelik I, the son of Solomon & Sheba to Emperor Haile Selassie. The direct Holy grail blood connection between Jesus Christ, and the Ethiopian Royal family, via King David and his son King Solomon of Israel. King David the father of Solomon was the grandfather of Mary (Maryam) the mother of Christ, thus making the blood connection of cousins between the Ethiopian royals and Christ.
After another hour of sitting in the car while he wrote his report, I was taken to another nearby location, and held in the car for at least another hour. He continued his report for another hour.
By this time, Officer Node calmed way down and began speaking to me like a normal human. He then allowed me to stretch my legs and offered me a feed of his personal water drink; I was relived somewhat. We began talking like men about family, kids, etc. After at least 3 hours of wearing tight handcuffs and waiting another hour for the PADDY VAN, when the van arrived I was turned over to a transportation officer. Officer NODE then said to the other transportation officer, “This is a nice guy, and has been very cooperative.” I then wondered silently, “If I was such a nice guy, then why was I treated this way with such undue brutality and use of force?”
The tight handcuffs were then removed and the transportation officer placed much more comfortable, looser cuffs to my hands. I was relieved.
We traveled to another facility and the processing was very slow. After a change of clothing, I was placed in a very cold cell. I was trembling and shaking the whole entire time. I stayed there in the dirty cold concrete cell until about 4:00 AM, then was transported to another location with bunk beds and, finally, thin bed sheets and a thin blanket.
DAY 2 – Easter Sunday – Resurrection Day
I was awaken to eat breakfast just before sunrise (possibly 6:30 AM). I, due to cold and nervousness, could not eat nor drink so I skipped the meal. It was cold and I’m tropical, so it was better under the sheet and blanket – and with toilets in the open, it was better not to eat to prevent a bowel movement, and prevent using those disgusting toilets in the open.
I tried for hours to call out. NO FREE PHONE CALLS WERE GIVEN. All numbers stored in my private cell phone went with the confiscated cell phone and I could not remember any local numbers in Florida except for one person. I could not get through because cell phones do not allow for collect calls. There was a very big muscular Angelic jail mate who God had to have sent for this occasion to my cell. He was on weekend jail time.
He stated to everyone, “Anyone who wants to call out, I will help you reach your goal,” via a bonds lady he knew on the outside. He then made the miracle call and I was saved and finally bailed out at 3:00 PM. Strangely and mystically, he got out at the same time as I did and I thanked him and the almighty God for the Angelic form of help because I was told I could not leave until someone came and bailed me out. It couldn’t be done myself unless I had over $1000 in confiscated cash. How many average people travel around the streets with that much cash? So, self-bailing is not a viable option for the average person imprisoned.
I was finally bailed and processed out, which took another two hours or so. When I received my wallet, ALL the cash was missing, and WITHOUT ANY PRIOR NOTIFICATION, The Florida Drivers License card was also missing, It was shocking that they would go into my private wallet and steal all the cash, which I did not notice until after leaving the building. As soon as I could, I called the Booking Department to find out that the money was taken as a Jail Accommodation charge and I was over $16 in a deficit!
By this time, my friend who came to bail me out became overly hungry and sickened by the process. On the long 1.5 hour long drive from Bartow, Fl to Orlando, he vomited in the car due to sympathetic stress and duress from experience I went through.
We got to Orlando, FL and he photographed the injuries I endured. That night it was difficult to sleep; I had a fever and alternating feelings of being too hot and then too cold. After finally sleeping for 2 or so hours, I was awoken by my own clothing completely drenched in my perspiration, from a fever; I had to change into new clothes to sleep in. I had flu symptoms and was spitting green goo because of the cold jail cell the night before.
There was an arthritic numbness in my wrists and painful fingers, back and left hip bone. I also had a serious headache; I hadn’t had a headache in years.
DAY 3: Easter Monday
There was increased pain in my fingers, arthritic numbness in my wrists, and a headache. It took two days to eat half of a Subway tuna sandwich, due to stomach nervousness and lack of appetite. The bruise on my hip and cheekbone from the overuse and abuse of force hurt even more.
Florida Driver’s License Bureau:
It took two trips to the Florida License Bureau to clear the unforeseen problems. Due to the pressure of the driving job, it took a while to get proper help. By this time, I already racked up too many tickets and points. The class taken was an 8-hour course; apparently, it should have been a 12-hour course, which is what caused the continued cancellation without my knowledge. The Florida DMV discovered the error and granted me the new driver’s license at 5:15 PM, after an all-day ordeal at the DMV. I was forced to carry non-owner’s insurance because of the points.
I then started wondering about all the conflicting statements made by the young, abusive and disrespectful officer, half my age and old enough to be my son.
If I was charged with Resisting Arrest – non-violently, then why was I, a 54-year-old man who woke up with back pain, so excessively brutalized? Then who was doing the excessive beating, torture and damages to my body a Temple of Christ?
We all know from life experiences that some one is lying or stretching un-truths when statements conflict themselves or when statements are mathematically illogical.
In the beginning of the arrest, he told his buddy officers that “I was trying to get away.”
If I was trying to get away, then, why did I stop in the first place?
When I placed the car in park, did he mistakenly think I was trying to put it in 1st gear?
When he handed me over to the humane and respectful transport officer, he explained to him that I was a nice guy and VERY COOPERATIVE. Well if so, then why do I have so many bruises and so much pain on my body and face?
Please, someone one help me answer these questions about the statements he made that are defying logic?
My Recent Experience With Polk County Sheriff Profiling and Excess Brutality is a post from Cop Block - Badges Don't Grant Extra Rights