What happened to innocent until proven guilty? The story of my first and only arrest…and torture!
To whom it concerns or will listen:
I was arrested for the first time in my entire life at 9:30am, on April 19, 2013, in Howard County, by Missouri State Highway Patrol officer CPL D. Powell badge #594. I was charged with speeding, unlawful use of drug paraphernalia, and DWI (drugs). My court date is June 25, 2013. I currently have a public defender.
I was driving down highway 5 in Howard County, not quite to New Franklin, MO. I saw a MSHP vehicle pop over the hill when I looked at my speedometer and realized I was speeding so I slowed down. He turned around and followed me for a mile or so then pulled me over. I knew I was going to be in trouble for speeding. He came to my window and I handed him my license and registration. He asked me where I was going. I replied “Booneville, to go shopping”. He asked me to step out of my vehicle and get into his. I did so without questioning. He ran my license and registration with me sitting there then told me that I was lying about something. I told him I didn’t know what he was talking about. He asked if I had anything on me. I do occasionally smoke K-2 and had paraphernalia (a glass one hitter that was scrapped almost clean), so I admitted to it. He told me I was still lying, that he thought I was on meth. I do not normally do drugs like this but I had been to a party a couple days before and was stupid enough to give into peer pressure and did a line. I admitted that to the officer. He still insisted that I was under the influence of meth right then (WHICH I WASN’T!), and the sooner I tell him the truth the better off I would be. He asked what else I was holding back. I told him that anything else that I were to say would be a lie, because I had already told him the whole truth. He kept saying “the eyes never lie”. I have bipolar disorder (manic) and my pupils have always been big. He then placed me under arrest and read me my rights. He asked if he could search my purse and car and I gave him permission to do so because I had nothing to hide. He did a Breathalyzer test on me which I passed. He then did a field sobriety test on me. The test was performed while I was wearing rain boots, in someone’s gravel driveway, on a hill. I had trouble balancing. He then informed me that I failed. He called in 2 other sheriff deputies to help him search my car, where the only thing he found was the hitter that I had already admitted to. He had me sitting in the front seat of his vehicle at this time. He came over and asked me to place my arms behind my back and give him my left wrist. I did so, as he clamped the handcuffs on my wrist very rough, and extremely tight. He then took my right wrist and clamped down the cuffs so hard that they cut into my wrist. I still have a scar from the cut. I asked him if the cuffs needed to be so tight. They were digging into my wrists so hard that it felt as if my wrists were going to snap and break. He told me that it wasn’t supposed to be comfortable. I recently found out that He had charges pressed against him a couple years ago for breaking a girls arm. He took me to Howard County Sheriff’s department where he had a Sheriff Deputy meet him that was training (one of the 2 he called to help search), and a drug specialist meet him. The drug specialist also performed tests on me. The arresting officer then asked me if I would submit to a blood test. I asked what would happen if I refused. He said that he would charge me with an automatic driving under the influence of methamphetamines. I gave him permission to do the test because I didn’t want an automatic charge. He then took me to the ambulance center to have my blood drawn. The training deputy came with us. The ambulance center is connected to the VA building and there are 2 individuals that stay there are block shifts so it’s like an apartment. The EMT teased about why I was in there so early and the arresting officer cracked jokes on me. They sat me down at a dirty kitchen table, with no other female present, and no camera. The EMT made a comment about how there was only one iodine packet in the lab kit while he scrubbed the first injection site with it and tossed it aside. He couldn’t get my blood to come out so he then used alcohol swabs to scrub before he poked me 4 more times, using the same needle, throwing it down on the dirty table and cussing me for moving, when I was being perfectly still. The EMT finally decided to use a different needle but had ran out of alcohol swabs (that were in reaching distance) and then used dry gauze to scrub the next 2 injection sights, WHICH HURT LIKE HELL! I was crying in pain and asked if we could take a break and stated that I was getting dizzy. The EMT started laughing, and said “Pass out, it’s easier that way!”. The arresting officer said “No, just get it over with. Are you refusing?” I told him no even though I was in tremendous pain, and had been stuck now 7 times. They still couldn’t get my vein right and had drawn very little blood. The second EMT that was sleeping in the bedroom came out at this time. He asked for a shot at it. He got more alcohol swabs and a new needle from a cabinet and tried to be very gentle while stabbing me 3 more times with that same needle. He then got out a huge draw back needle and after cleaning my hand off with an alcohol swab stuck me and began to draw out my blood. I cried out in immense pain when he collapsed my vein and my head fell forward and hit the table. The arresting officer finally said it was enough, he needed 20ml of blood and so they combined the 3 needles contents and only got 5ml to send to lab. After 2 hours of torture I looked at the bloody kitchen table in amazement. I was taken back to the jail where I was finger printed and booked and was released to a sober driver, my step dad.
I have never been arrested before, but my arrest seems abrasive. I was punctured, teased, and belittled. I have pictures of my bruises the day of, and from a week later of my arms, wrists, and hands. They were even talking about trying to find a vein in my foot next (which thankfully they didn’t)! It took a month for all the bruises to fully disappear. I still have scars from the needles injection sights where they had lifted and played with the needle inside of my arm. I am looking for legal advice, or maybe someone willing to take on a case against them for being so unethical, unsanitary, and unnecessarily torturous! PLEASE GIVE ME SOME INPUT!
1 Answer from Attorneys
I am sorry to hear that you had such a horrific experience. The presumption of innocence has to do with the conduct of a trial. The Judge or jury is to presume that the defendant is innocent, and to acquit if the State does not prove each element of an accused crime. The presumption does not have much to do with how one is perceived by law enforcement officers, during their investigations.
Based upon the facts you described, you may have a viable civil suit against the officers and the medical staff. As you apparently admitted to using drugs illegally, your case may be hard to prove. But, you should consult with a civil practice attorney in your are very soon. Many offer a free or low cost initial consultation. Gather your documents and any notes or pictures you took around that time, and go see one. There are preliminary steps and little time to bring such a claim, so do not delay. you might even find an attorney wiling to take your case on a contingent fee basis. Try to find one that is familiar with the intricacies of 1983 actions. The outcome of any criminal charges you got from that day can alter your chances of success in a civil suit. So, you should have criminal defense counsel too. Perhaps, they can be the same attorney. But, criminal cases cannot be handled on a contingent fee basis.
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