Police Brutality Please Advise

Photo with Son Harvard Business School Campus

Friday 7/15/16 son leaves for work at 5:30 A.M. I drop cupcakes to his job the evening before, as today is his birthday. He works two summer jobs to raise money for college expenses. He attends University of California, Santa Cruz Engineering Department. On his drive home, early afternoon, in his 2005 Toyota Corolla he stops to fuel. Gas station has a long line. He turns the car off. It overheats. He dozes. Suddenly, a burly Sheriff breaks in the locked passenger door. They yanks him out of the car like a stuffed animal. My son doesn’t recall the seat belt coming unhooked. Bruises stripe across his chest. A black eye and fat lip recall the event. His eye glasses are bent.

Two officers force him face down on the asphalt. Orange County Sheriffs search his body.

“Why am I being detained sir?”

“Shut up! We ask questions. You on heroin?”

“No. I never use drugs.”

“We know you are on heroin.”

“No sir.”

“Are you planning to rob this gas station?”

“What? No sir. I was waiting to pump gas.”

“Shut up.” The officer elbows him in the face. “Get on the ground face down.”

Son, an honor student, a gentleman is shoved onto the pavement.

One officer with shaved head throws his personal belongings out of the car.

“I don’t give permission to search my car.”

This statement angers the officer standing over. He forces him into the back of the patrol car. Meanwhile the two scream questions about using drugs and being homeless. Nothing they accuse makes any sense. Everything from the Toyota flies to the dirt. Shorts, dress pants, uniforms, gym clothing, plastic grocery bags, a present for his girlfriend, bottled waters, two bottles of Prestone coolant, jumper cables, first aid kit, paper towels, Clif energy bars, a chess set in a wooden case, and bag of almonds scatter. In the spill of clothing they find no guns no drugs no contraband.

Vehicle tags current. Son never arrested. No traffic tickets, no record of bad credit no failure to appear for jury duty. Hair is short. He wears his Juice Bar uniform, now blood stained by the encounter. As fast as the events unfold, police release him from their vehicle and drive off in a rush of flashing lights.

The encounter uses two hours of son’s 20th Birthday. It shakes him to the core. Ice fails to cool the throbbing.

As a parent I feel conflicted about images of police brutality in the media. If my son were black, would he be alive? He wants to complain. If he files this, will he be targeted for future harassment? Consider it lucky that the orange colored coolant isn’t mixed with his blood on the pavement?

Saturday I stop in the gas station to gather perspective. Service station Manager says, “We didn’t call the police. Sometimes they are Nazis.”

Video from the Shell station shows police moving son away from the cameras. This is a busy location in San Juan Capistrano, Orange County California. It is adjacent to a speed trap. Sheriffs wait here to dole out tickets to motorcycles pleasure riding on Ortega Highway. This must be what black Mothers experience every Monday?

Encourage him to report it or let it go? Please advise.