So far in this mini-series, my anonymous interviewee has tried to do what any good citizen is exhorted by our system to do — work with the police to address crime. But this blew up in her face when the cops busted into her home with an unsigned warrant instead, trashing the place and traumatizing her family.
This week, Anon continues to try to go through the proper channels… and spoiler alert, it continues to not go well.
Anon: I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t know who to call, I didn’t know who to talk to or anything, I was a mess. I was like that the whole weekend, like a zombie. Then by the time Sunday night came, I was pissed. I was livid-angry once I started to really think about it and process, so then I started writing stuff down, and I started doing what I do and research.
First thing I did, I looked up every single representative that I had and I did a blast email. I didn’t think to contact the State’s Attorney’s Office yet, but every elected official. And then on Monday I went a little deeper into my research and I started finding other stories. I found Ashley-Overbey’s story and then I found Ms. Green, the older lady who was beat up in her house and she locked the cop in the basement.
Abby: What a badass.
Anon: And I was like “Oh wow. Well okay, apparently this is the sort of thing that happens.” I got the number for Internal Affairs, and I asked them “What do you do to file a complaint?” And they said, you come in here and give a statement. And then I started noticing vehicles driving by my house, parking in the lot across the street, that weren’t supposed to be there, and I started getting really paranoid and something just said “Call the news stations,” and it was the best decision I ever made because they were going to continue to harass us.
Once the news truck was out there, a van parked directly across the street from my house, a nondescript white van. And the guy who was driving it actually looked like, believe it or not, one of the officers that was in my house. I have no doubt they were using some kind of listening device to see what I was saying. And I looked at the cameraman, and I’m like, “…you all see this, right?” and he’s like, “Yep.”
They did an ok job with the story. Of course you only get the obligatory minute and thirty seconds that they chop it into or whatever, but in part of the video, you actually see the white van that I’m talking about.
Oh, and within the search and seizure warrant they claimed that they observed people buying drugs walking up steps, somebody coming out dealing the drugs and then going back in, going down steps and leaving… I don’t have steps in front of my house.
Abby: Oh shit!
Anon: I have literally one step onto my porch and that’s it, there’s no “steps.” So even the house that they described was not my house.
So after that I went into Internal Affairs and that was a mess. They’re nuts.
Abby: What was nuts about it?
Anon: Well, it’s a nondescript building, number one. You would never know it belongs to the police. I was kind of wandering around a parking lot and then I saw a callbox on the side of a door and I pushed the button and asked if was in the right place. They buzzed me in between two vestibules and then I had to pick up a phone and get the guard to buzz me into yet another entryway.
They kept me in the vestibule area and the guard demanded that I tell him in a nutshell why I was there. I’m like, “I wanna file a complaint.” And he’s like, “Based on what?” He was being really nasty, he wasn’t being concerned or anything like that. He called back and Good-Cop/Bad-Cop comes out, which is two females.
They ask me why I was there, so now I had to try and put the story in a nutshell again, and Bad Cop was like, “Well, was your son selling drugs out of there or were you selling drugs out of there?” And I’m like, “Why would I be standing here if that was happening in my house, that would be stupid to come here and try and file a complaint.” And she says, “You don’t have to get smart, ’cause we don’t have to take a statement from you if you feel like getting smart!” And then Good Cop kind of stood in and was like, “We need to make a couple of phone calls, just go have a seat.”
So they left me out in the vestibule, and then I just am noticing all of these big, burly cops coming in and out in street clothes. And the first thing I noticed was a bunch of them had really inappropriate t-shirts on. Like, things that insinuated the right to brutality. And then I saw a couple of the vehicles and even some of the stickers that they had on their cars and trucks were just really inappropriate, glorifying being a gun-toting, like… you know what I mean, it just… and I was really appalled by that.
So then, Bad Cop comes back out and now all of a sudden she’s being nice and she asked me, “Were you or your son made a confidential informant some time before this incident?” And I’m like “No, what are you talking about?” and she’s like, “Hmm… alright,” and walks away.
Finally, Good Cop comes back out, she’s got an older guy with her and they bring me into this back room and they’re like, “We’re going to record this, is that okay?” They went through a more detailed interview than we’re doing right now. By that time I had spoken to all my immediate neighbors who said they would give statements, they’re like, “Yeah we’ll give a statement that you guys weren’t doing anything, and who it was, where it was coming from.”
And then before I was leaving, she said, “Okay, well, we’re gonna type up a transcript of this, get your approval, we’ll send you a card telling you who the detective assigned to your case is, and we’ll investigate it,” and… nothing. None of that ever happened. I never got a transcript, I was never contacted, I just was blown off, and that’s when I contacted the State’s Attorney’s Office because I knew that they had a Police Integrity Unit.
So, that’s the unit I called, and I got put in touch with [redacted], who is a total piece of crap who refused to do her job, would basically ask me what I thought she should do about the predicament.
And I said, well seriously, if nobody wants to investigate this, I’m just gonna have to get a lawyer because nobody seems to wanna look into this and this is obviously some kind of misconduct here. I don’t know if these guys were selling drugs and running guns and I blew up their little plans, I don’t know what is going on, but there’s just something not right.
She would call over to Internal Affairs, and I was apparently assigned to Detective [redacted], who was the one who handled, or mishandled, I should say, the Freddie Gray case. So she was in the middle of that and was using that as an excuse of not getting back to me.
They wanted to interview my husband and my son. Months went by and I had to keep reminding them, “When are you going to interview them, details are going to start falling out of their heads.” They didn’t get around to interviewing my husband and my son until late January and early February of the following year. And this happened in September.
They made my husband go in separate and then they wanted to interview my son and I said, “Well I wanna be present.” So I was told that I could not speak or intervene, but what I observed was a detective, actually two detectives in the room that could not interview a child.
Abby: In what way?
Anon: Their questions were too big. They didn’t give him a proper frame of reference. They weren’t detailed in how they were asking him questions. It was just super, super vague. And my husband said their questions to him were super, super vague too. It was like they were doing it just to go through the motions.
So then I went back to my neighbors and I asked them, has anyone come out to interview you or have they called you? No, none of my neighbors were ever questioned, interviewed, like no investigation was done, none. So I had retained a lawyer and that didn’t even put pressure on them to do the right thing.
They stalled for years, and put us through it, but in the meantime, our mail was being tampered with. My son, by that time he had gotten a car he was sharing with his girlfriend, he was being randomly pulled over for no reason. The same kind of stuff that happens to Tawanda [Jones, local police brutality survivor/activist] and her family. Random vehicles pointing their cars towards our house in the parking lot across the road, to the point where the people who bought the building wound up cordoning off the lot, because they didn’t know it was police.
Boxes that my son was expecting in the mail would go missing and the next day it would be thrown on our porch, ripped open and gone through. So I’m like, “Well no, somebody didn’t just decide they didn’t want the boots and do that.” We were afraid to bring anything in the house, ’cause we thought they would plant drugs. So we’re like, taking stuffing out of the boots that he ordered and shaking it out on the porch to make sure or whatever, ’cause we were afraid to touch anything. Even after going to the news and getting a lawyer, they were doing whacko stuff.
My husband was afraid he was gonna get pulled over every time we saw any weird vehicle, we were just afraid that something was gonna happen. So, yeah, it’s a constant paranoia. They terrorize you.
Next week, we’ll wrap things up with how Anon and her family ended up accepting a settlement and being placed under a gag order. We’ll also look at why she and many others have chosen to remain anonymous despite a declaration by the Deputy City Solicitor that gag orders will no longer be enforced, as well as how her story fits into national and local patterns of over-use and abuse of power by law enforcement.
Speaking of which, there’s an important update on the case of Keith Davis, Jr. — he has a new sentencing date, February 28th, which is also when he will receive a ruling on his motion for a new trial. Keith has been languishing in jail since 2015 after being shot in the face and subsequently set up by the BPD (https://one-baltimore.org/2019/06/17/one-baltimore-7-keith-davis-jr/). Please consider showing up in support: https://www.facebook.com/events/602379147260136/
#OneBaltimore #ForcedSilenceCondonesPoliceViolence #BaltimorePoliceDepartment #DisbandBPD
Cultural Event of the Week: Is there a building with a more beautiful interior in all of Baltimore than the Peabody library? The shapes, the levels, the light, the books! Not that I’ve ever done more than peek inside… which is what makes In the Stacks, a series of free shows in the library, so cool. ITS #9 is this Thursday, 1/23, and promises to “explore how gender conformity has been subverted since the earliest forms of music and film,” via a mix of live performance and videos.
Green Event of the Week: I tryyyy to shy away from mixing this column up too much with my day job, but I just gotta share that Baltimore Beyond Plastic (a student group with whom I have the privilege of working) is putting on an Art & Action Extravaganza this Saturday evening at the 2640 Space, focused on environmental activism. If you know young people who’d wanna check it out, please pass it on!! Details and registration at: http://www.bmorebeyondplastic.org/