I am no angel. But I have been held accountable for my actions since I was a thirteen years old. I spent a couple weekends in a juvenile home in Oakland County, Michigan. I went to the county jail at sixteen and was sent to prison at age nineteen.
I walked away from a rehab at the age of eighteen and when the Oak Park police caught me and decided to drive me directly to the county jail instead of waiting for the Sheriffs Deputies to pick me up, I escaped one night.
On the ride to the jail in the back of the patrol car, I took off my shoes because the strings were taken out of them. I’d run better bare foot. I slipped my legs through the hand cuffs from behind my back and pulled my hands up in front of me. At one point the officer in the passenger seat heard the cuffs jingle and he saw what I was doing. He threatened me and told me to put the cuffs back behind my back and then he slammed the thick glass between us.
I pretended to comply and then when he shut the glass I quietly got them back in front again and waited for a red light. This happened in 1984 when the Oak Park police cars back seat windows rolled down part of the way. It was enough to fit my hands through and reach outside of the police car and opened the door.
The police made every light all the way out to the jail on Telegraph road except for the very last one at Elisabeth Lake road. I remember the looks on the people’s faces in the cars next to us, when I made my get away. I laughed and ran as fast as a teenager can into the night. I made my way into a graveyard and then from up on top of a mausoleum, I watched the police look for me.
They caught me two weeks later in Ozaukee, Wisconsin. I was held accountable for all my actions. I served years in prison for them. Then, fifteen years later. A free man, the cop whose hand cuffs I took off with that night so long ago spotted me driving with a tenant of my mothers. He pulled us over, sat us on the curb, searched my car and took a crow-bar out of my trunk and then had a witness from a crime that had just taken place brought to where we were.
I didn’t know what the witness said but I was arrested for breaking and entering and threatened by the prosecutor to take a plea for a twelve year minimum sentence! I had done nothing wrong so I fought the case, scared to death.
While I remained in jail with a ridiculous bond my mother drank herself to death believing I was going away for a long time, again. I lost my mother and I lost my home to foreclosure since I couldn’t pay the bank note. Post traumatic stress disorder doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel about all of this. I am hunted still and probably always will be. I have not recovered with time from the shock of it all.
I met an informant one day in the county jail who knew the man who had committed the crime I was being charged with. He told me that the man buried the crow-bar he used to break into the house. This caught my attention because I knew that the police were saying that my crow-bar was identified by a witness as having been used in the crime! So I contacted my attorney and told him all these things the informant told me. Then my attorney acquired documents where the witness made it clear that my crow-bar was not the crow-bar. The real bar was not even a crow-bar at all, it was a roofer’s flat pry bar.
So in vengeance this police officer who I escaped from many years before had “falsified evidence”. He had ignored testimony given by the witness which would have freed me from being prosecuted and if I hadn’t found out by the sheer luck of running into this informant in the county jail, I would have lost years of my life. Perhaps, decades because I was fighting the crime and refused the twelve year minimum plea offer.
When my attorney told the courts about the real evidence this is what I was offered, “Plead guilty right now and we will release you time served with no probation. Fight us and you might win a law suit someday but you’ll be found guilty first and it will take you years of appeals to win.”
Instant freedom for a plea that would forever protect them and the officer involved from accounting for his actions or the threat of entering processes I already knew how hard it was to beat or become free from. Oakland County looked at me like a low-life who had a slight upper hand and all I deserved in their eyes was to be given back my freedom with another felony on my record! To protect them from being sued. But who is accountable to give me back my mother’s life? Or our hundred thousand dollar home with only twenty grand owed on a second mortgage. Who is accountable to give me my home back?
How about just a written apology made public, accepting responsibility for all the wrong that was done to me? Yes, hold police officers accountable for their actions equally as citizens. They need to practice what they preach. How can we respect the law if people employed as police officers have no respect for it?