Thursday, August 7, 2014

Police Threaten Domestic Violence Victims

The following is an account of how a domestic disturbance incident was handled by a local police department. This account was corroborated by several witnesses including neighbors who had no direct involvement, when we investigated the story. At the request of the persons involved, we did not make contact with the police agency or the officers involved, and we will not name that agency here other than to say it was a local town police department.  The persons involved have stated that they are in fear for their safety, as well as fearful of retribution by police, should they say what department handled the call. 

A little background first.

Several months ago, my landlord's ex-husband moved out to live elsewhere leaving her stuck for the rent on the remainder of the lease. She rents a house through an agency. So to help make the rent, she decided to put an ad on Craigslist to rent out several rooms. I moved in about a month ago, and there are several roommates here now.

Since I have moved in, her ex keeps showing up at random times, wandering through the house and being a general nuisance. One night at about 2 in the morning, I woke up to this man coming down the stairs into the room that I rent, for no apparent reason except to look around. Very creepy.

When he moved out, he put a bunch of things in the garage, but also left a few items inside the house. An obvious ploy to give him an excuse to come into the house whenever he pleases. He has not paid a dime in rent since moving out, but still acts like he owns the place since his name is still on the lease.

Now to the day's events.

Yesterday this man showed up unannounced, and ripped a refrigerator out of the wall. It does belong to him apparently, but he never seemed to have any concern for it up to yesterday when it became his excuse to come in and cause a disturbance. He proceeded to ruin all of one roommate's food that was in the fridge and freezer, throwing it all on the floor. Broken eggs and the whole bit. None of my food was in there, but he proceeded to make threats against me, telling me to “get the f*** out” and that he was going to have me arrested for trespassing and so forth. I don't know this man at all, and really did not appreciate being dragged into whatever domestic issues he has with my landlord.

He left, and then came back again. The police were called. A local town police department. My landlord gave permission for him to empty his things from the garage, and to take the refrigerator that was now laying in the driveway. Hoping it would be the last she would see of him no doubt. He loaded the fridge into the truck, but left without getting his things from the garage. The police told him not to come back to the house.

This all happened around lunchtime. Now, I had just finished making dinner, and I see her ex pulled up in front of the house again. At this point, I am fearful for my own safety as well as my landlord, seeing this man parked on the street and staring at us through the window. So I called 911. Just as the call connected, the police pull up out front again. So I don't know who actually made the initial call, but I know that police don't show up instantaneously like that. I told the 911 operator that the police had just pulled up and that I no longer needed his help.

Two officers came into the house. As soon as they came in, one officer threatened to arrest me for falsely reporting an incident to 911. She said that there was no domestic disturbance, when clearly there was a problem. She said that she was screaming through traffic with the lights and sirens because she thought there was a “real” problem. But again, I had not made the call at that point, so someone else must have called first. I tried to explain to the officers what had happened earlier in the day, and was told to “shut the f*** up” by the male officer, and told that it was none of my business. Granted, I don't want to have anything to do with whatever is going on between my landlord and her ex, but when I am in fear for my own safety and being threatened directly, it becomes my business. Several threats of arrest were made against both myself and my landlord, and the police were quite free with profanity showing a total lack professionalism. They were barking about wasting their time, causing a disturbance and so forth. Now keep in mind here, we were minding our own business and about to sit down to dinner.

The police then told my landlord that she had to let this man back into the house to get his things, and that they were not even going to stay while he got them. They said they had a court order allowing him to come into the house. My landlord was not served with any such court order. The police REALLY didn't like it when I spoke up to tell my landlord of her rights. Basically telling her that if she has not been served with an order, then any such order is irrelevant. Hearsay is not a court order. The cop screamed that it was on file with his Sergeant back at the station, and that if she did not let her ex back, that she would be arrested for breaking a court order. The police then called the station and asked what the order actually said.

A few minutes later, the court order did show up. I don't know who brought it, or if her ex had a copy or what. But it turns out that it was a family court issued order of protection against my landlord, barring her from interacting with her ex or their children whom she pays child support for. There was no order from any civil court, giving this man access to the house. Again, keep in mind here, that we were about to sit down to dinner when this man showed up. If he really feels the need for an order of protection, then what is he even doing here in the first place?

The police then order her to let the man back into the house once again. The decision is not up to me, but I refused to let him enter my room. There were a few bags of kids clothes being stored in my room, which my landlord had told them to take, months ago. I brought the bags upstairs. I was then yelled at by the police once again and called a liar. The female officer tells my landlord, “See this is why you don't rent to scumbags.” This was my reward for trying to be somewhat accommodating and bringing the items to the door. When I got to the front door, I saw that her ex had left. He didn't empty the garage, he didn't bother to even wait for the bags of clothes. The police threatened to arrest us again, if anything were to happen to those clothes. I was ready to just set them out on the porch and be done with it, but I was told I would be arrested for that.

One officer then screamed through the window that my landlord had threatened her with violence. My landlord had made no such statement. Despite the ordeal, and clearly being deliberately provoked, neither of us resorted to so much as an F-bomb, much less go spouting off with threats or yelling. The police on the other hand, were not at all inclined to keep the situation calm.

I am completely shocked and appalled by all of this, on so many levels. The conduct of these two police officers was absolutely disgraceful. In this day and age, and in this area where domestic violence is such a serious problem, I was shocked to see that not only would the police not help, but actually became the aggressors themselves. I am fearful for my own safety now, and have no one to even call for help should another incident occur.

No one should have to live in fear in their own home.