The long arm of the law reaches down Charles’ pants

1-arresterfield

Supporting Files:

  1. Mp4 – Internal Affairs interview -This has the most accurate account of what happened from Charles’ point of view. Just hearing him on the tape triggers a crying episode of despair.
  2. Word Doc- Transcript of police stop above on the Mp4
  3. Word Doc – Charles account of the original arrest
  4. Mp4 – Police stop with Charles and 6 officers 
  5. PDF – Breathalyzer

One of the incidents I have had a hard time with was one that happened in late February 2015 in Chesterfield County Virginia, just 4 months before Charles died by suicide.

Charles was driving home and was stopped by the police. The reason? A rolling stop–their go-to probable cause for young men 18-25 at that time.

In Chesterfield County, police work in 2015 was a revenue stream and it changed a mentality of “protect and defend” to “us against them.”  They had a quota to give a certain number of tickets and make a certain number of arrests. If you ask me, quotas are for salesmen not policemen. There was also an opiate epidemic going on and many counties were still trying to arrest their way out of the problem.

Back to the story

Charles is asked to get out of his car and is immediately handcuffed. As Charles described it, the officer’s face changed once he was cuffed and he got really scared.

Keep in mind Charles was 130 pounds at 6 foot 2 inches tall. The officer was over 200 pounds and packing a gun. He’s handcuffed and helpless by the side of the road at 11 or 12 at night.

I believe that once the cop roughed him up, Charles got scared and panicked. He said he screamed for help which probably pissed the officer off. I don’t think crying and and screaming for help was the response the officer expected.

Microsoft_Word_doc_logo.svg
Written Account of What Happened that Night – I typed while Charles talked.

Ultimately, this officer reached into Charles’ pants looking for drugs and ended up grabbing his genitals.

You can read Charles’ original account in the word doc I have posted on this page but the most accurate account I have access to would be the mp4 file linked to above.

I don’t think he grabbed his genitals for sexual reasons but for power reasons and out of frustration.

He was so sure he was going to find something and so disappointed he had not. They’d been stopping him for months for “rolling stops” and had not found anything to nail him with.

The part that gets me is that he kept telling Charles no one would believe him because he was just another drunk teenager. And who were they going to believe? So not only did he physically rough him up, he taunted him.

Officers would later say it was completely within their right to put their hand down a suspect’s pants and feel around. But they have to avoid the genitalia. How does one do that?

By law, if I go to the gynecologist,  the doctor has to have a nurse in the room to do a pelvic exam that I asked for.

So how is it legal to reach into someone’s underwear with no other officer present on the side of the road at midnight? The officer denied grabbing his junk but he did not deny reaching into his pants to search.

Charles admitted to yelling and pacing all around after the officer put his hand in his pants. He was reacting to being violated which I think is a natural response but certainly one that was in line with Charles’ previous panic attacks.

He ended up leveling Charles with a crazy smorgasbord of overlapping charges– one of which was assault on a police officer. All for nothing more than a .01 on the station breathalyzer test. That’s point ZERO one. Way under the legal limit and even under the .02 that constitutes a “baby DUI”.

Apparently there was a scale but nothing to go with it.  I agree a scale looks bad, but it’s not illegal. So he didn’t have him for DUI or drugs so he had to save face on this botched arrest.

charles-beach

The officer accused Charles of “taking a swing at him.” But once Charles pointed out that he was cuffed the whole time, the officer apparently changed his story and said Charles threw his shoulder in a “football move” while he had him pinned face down on the car. He gives a very specific account of this on the mp4. In fact, he sounds very credible on the tape.

As Charles tells it, the Magistrate was irritated with the officer and kept telling him he couldn’t press drug charges with cigarette ashes.

Of course, we never got to see anything including the police report. And with no body cam, Charles’ word against this guy’s.

Charles was very upset

But he was also humiliated and embarrassed. When he came home he was a basket case–disillusioned that he’d be treated this way by the law.

He made an official complaint anyway and after that, Charles was basically stalked by the police–when he went to the gas station, the convenience store, Walmart, drug store.

My son suffered from addiction as well as anxiety and depression. These are illnesses. They also didn’t have anything on him that evening worth making an arrest. And if there was a rolling stop, the officer should have left it at that.

Instead it blew up and out of proportion because this officer lost control of himself and of the situation.

After his arrest

IMG_0918

Once he got home about 10 hours later after being arrested, he had bruises on his arms and knots on his head from where the guy roughed him up.

Not the worst beating ever by a cop but obviously one that was intended not to show physical evidence that he’d been roughed up.

You can’t take pictures of knots on someone’s head.

What was worse, he was humiliated by the underwear search. He was crying, angry, hurt and confused.

Charles physically crumbled that day and it instigated a terrible downward spiral.

Charles filed a complaint with the police department and we stopped him short of pressing charges, deciding to wait, fearing it might make them more vindictive and topple what little stability he had left. I think once the internal affairs officer interviewed the other policemen who had clearly well corroborated their side of the story given they know the system well and we don’t, it was Charles’ suspected drug use that made his account un-credible even though they never told me that. To them, he was just another drug addict, one of society’s throwaways.

The sexual assault did trigger an episode of deep depression.

Police harass him non-stop

To the police, assaulting an officer is the worst kind of crime, second only to wounding or killing a man of the law. What better way to rally his posse of police buddies in the name of brotherhood? They would gladly stalk this kid that had assaulted an officer!

They didn’t always make an official “stop” but I believe officers that were friends with the arresting officer would “run into Charles” at a convenience stores and harass him. There are witnesses to this. He was, after all, the kid who “assaulted a cop.”

I do believe Charles. I know he didn’t throw his shoulder in a “football move.” He was a lover not a fighter.

This made a bad situation worse. They were determined now to catch him at something to discredit him now he’d filed a complaint.

mp4-file-icon-44048
Recording of a police stop when Charles went to the drug store to pick up prescriptions. Transcript Word doc is here. 

There are several more incidences of artfully orchestrated follows meant to scare him. They logged his license plate and stopped him all the time or just tailed him to make him nervous.

They denied this to my face, of course. But I did notice no more harassment once we got new plates.

It just miraculously ceased.

Charles used a digital recorder to record one stop by the police when he went to the drug store after a psychiatrist appointment.

He was stopped on Hull Street and ultimately 6 police officers were present all with blinking lights surrounding him. I hear six of them on the tape and I hear them gossiping about him on that tape.

A friend of his steals something from Walmart

His friend confessed to have done the deed while Charles was paying for candy but the police came by to find out the friend’s name and number since the young man got a ride home with Charles.

They had his friend on camera taking something so they just came by to identify the person who stole and told us and Charles that no one was pressing charges on him.

Because they had to look up the plates and the address, this put Charles’ license plate back on their radar and back in the system. And the harassment kicked up again in high gear. Coincidence?

I was concerned for his mental health as I could see he was losing it and becoming more unstable with all the stress. We knew about the depression and anxiety.

We didn’t know about the drug addiction but I do think the officers did which is why they kept stopping him for rolling stops. They wanted to catch him with drugs.

At the first trial, the officers didn’t show up

We got the “good” judge, also known as fair, a rare commodity in Chesterfield County and apparently the no show by the cops is a way to “judge shop.” That case got continued and they now had the opportunity to work the system and get the judge they wanted so they could secure a conviction.

We met with internal affairs which was an interesting meeting in and of itself and that’s the account at #1 at the top in the mp4 file. They recorded it so I did, too.

After his death

A week after Charles’ death, he was scheduled for the follow-up hearing and our lawyer took in the obituary. Within one week we got a letter that they had absolved themselves of any wrongdoing.

While alive, his account was credible. They had stated this to us.

But at the first opportunity after his suicide, they cleared themselves. Why is it the police get to investigate themselves and then clear themselves? How is this justice?

If you do file a complaint, you can be sure they will come after you. Your child will be harassed, they will stop at nothing to play the system which they are more familiar with that you are.

This wasn’t the sole reason for his suicide by any stretch but I could see afterwards in notes and writing that it one of many factors that did contribute to his decision to end his life. It unraveled him.

Incidents like this with people you are supposed to trust make you feel like no one in the world is with you. Nothing is more isolating. Imagine how that makes a person who’s suffering from depression feel?

Incidents like this make police officers everywhere look bad

I do not know what it’s like to be a police officer.  I do not put my life on the line every day like they do. I know there are good officers. I know there are good officers in Chesterfield County.

But this one on this day was not.

I do know that now they are undergoing mental health training. Better mentorship for more experienced officers wouldn’t hurt either.

Shoving a hand down someone’s pants and treating a Starbucks kids like dirt during an arrest to scare the hell out of him doesn’t work for abolishing a drug problem and is a poor strategy for community compliance.

For those with mental health issues, autism or a disability, this approach is deadly.

Get updates to this blog by subscribing 

Published by

Anne Moss Rogers

I am the mother of two boys and the owner of emotionally naked, a site that reached a quarter million people in its first 18 months. I am a writer and professional public speaker on the topics of suicide, addiction, mental illness, and grief and currently working on getting a book published. I lost my youngest son, Charles, 20, to suicide June 5, 2015. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now the legacy I try and carry forward in my son's memory.

10 thoughts on “The long arm of the law reaches down Charles’ pants”

  1. His greatest gift was in letting other people know they matter. That’s because he probably didn’t think he mattered and he didn’t want other people to feel the same way as him. I’ll bet he was a good person. I know I’m a good person, but I spend my time telling myself that I’m worthless. I spend my time building everyone else up, while pulling myself down. I don’t want anyone to feel the same way that I do. If this book helps anyone, my new counselor told me his favorite book is, “The Six Pillars of Self Esteem,” by Nathaniel Branden. I’ve only just started to read the book, so I can’t vouch for it yet. A book that I think everyone should read is, “If Satan Can’t Steal Your Joy, He Can’t Keep Your Goods,” by Jerry Savelle. It isn’t about material things, but about Satan constantly bashing you and you not fighting back. That’s typical too, when you are already down. It’s like the crabs in a pail. They can’t get out. If one gets close, another one pulls it back down. It’s really hard to beat depression.

    1. Thank you for your honest and candid comment. I know my son felt worthless. He left behind a lot of music that reveals how he felt which helped me understand. I appreciate the book recommendations. I also have one that a therapist recommended for those who suffer thoughts of suicide.

      How I Stayed Alive When My Brain Was Trying to Kill Me: One Person’s Guide to Suicide Prevention
      https://amzn.to/2Co5e1E

  2. On so many levels, this makes me sick. Kudos to you for writing about it. It is an unfortunate reminder to me and my family of a few incidents I can recall involving my son. I personally couldn’t fathom the thought of what was shared at the time, and never pursued it. He was an adult who may have been in the wrong for minor offensives, and unless I was there…how did I know that they were actually targeting him? Like, why did they need to bring out the dogs to sniff out drugs, and call for back up for a broken tail light? I told myself that there must’ve been a reason, and that his account was an over reaction. I believe in law enforcement, and was raised to show them the utmost respect because surely they wouldn’t over step moral boundaries. So, it was easy for me to discount any accounts to the contrary. I wish I would’ve listened back then. Maybe some things would’ve been different, and my son would’ve felt heard. I want to believe that your involvement in Charles’s case has shed some light on the unfortunate events he had to endure, and hopefully forced them to make necessary changes.

    1. I know you know these issues, Tracy. And we can’t beat ourselves up over the past. For every time I advocated for Charles I can count a time I should have stepped in or empowered him to step in. Parents like us, we’ll always have regrets.

  3. Anne,

    You already know how I feel about this. Given The articles in the RTD on 5/29 – I am assuming the police department is looking at reform. I hope they are. The stories surrounded a Richmond City Captain, I believe. Hopefully, it is something that will actually be addressed and the article wasn’t just for PR. I would love to hear something positive coming out of this. THIS IS MY HOPE AND MY INTELLECT TALKING…..HOWEVER….

    As a Mother and I am beyond pissed off! If this had happened to my son, all HELL would have broken loose. No way would I have remained as calm, and as respectful as you were Anne during that “bogus” police follow up. You behaved extremely well while the Detective fell all over himself, making excuses for the extremely late follow up, not knowing answers to simple questions like, “Is it policy to wait for backup before one officer does a strip search?”, and MY FAVORITE is he tried to turn Charles words against him. Charles admits that he has issues with anxiety, and gets nervous and scared easily – a rough thing for a boy his age to admit – and the DETECTIVE says, “Do you think because of your admitted anxiety problems that you are remembering the events correctly?” WTF! He didn’t say I have memory problems, so I forget when people violate my personal space.

    I’ll end my rant with this – LADIES – When we go to our Doctor’s office and have to remove our clothing…Is a nurse present? YES. Do you know why? YES, because having more than one person witness anyone’s naked body without another person present could open up a Physician for a law suit in a HOT minute. Not to mention, it’s just appropriate. So, if an officer does this to me not only does another officer not have to be there, but THEN, I have to prove my innocence? I have to face the person that violated me and just pray that someone believes my half of the story in court, to DEFEND myself….WOW!

    You are a WAY better person than I am. I would have called every single person I knew in law enforcement, I probably would have woken up a judge or two, and you can be damn sure that my attorney along with his paralegal would have filed a lawsuit, been present during this “late catch up meeting”, and that officer would be off the streets until it was resolved. ANY medical bills associated with this crime would be included in my lawsuit, and presented to the county and since I’m suing the officer personally as well – he would get copies of bills he will be responsible for.

    The end of the “meeting” was just laughable. I’m done with you now Mam’, sorry I don’t really know answers to your questions, sorry for the agony of the wait for this meeting, and sorry that this report will be compared with the Officer is question, and maybe, one day, when we will have time because we are VERY busy – this will be resolved. Here’s a TIP – maybe you would have more officers available to help if you weren’t so busy having 6 police officers follow a 20 year old kid with no record, and no history of violence. THE END

    1. All hell did break lose. And I called everyone, wrote senators and then I did let it drop at some point because he was in crisis and I had to find him help. I love this. “I’ll end my rant with this – LADIES – When we go to our Doctor’s office and have to remove our clothing…Is a nurse present? YES. Do you know why? YES, because having more than one person witness anyone’s naked body without another person present could open up a Physician for a law suit in a HOT minute. Not to mention, it’s just appropriate. So, if an officer does this to me not only does another officer not have to be there, but THEN, I have to prove my innocence? I have to face the person that violated me and just pray that someone believes my half of the story in court, to DEFEND myself….WOW!”

  4. Wow, how incredible. But some of this sounds familiar to me. Tyler had some run ins with the law himself; and some were legitimate. But other issues led to him being targeted & harassed. Off & on he took his prescribed meds for depression, ADD, Hepatitis C, etc. To make a long story short he was arrested more than once for DUI, Other after admitting to taking his prescribed meds. It made no difference what kind of med. it was. We spent thousands to defend him. Our attorney’s secretary shared they had a client who was also arrested for DUI, Other after admitting to taking her hormone meds. I take meds for depression, BP, Diabetes, a blood thinner; if stopped by the police I can legally be charged with DUI, Other. This is the law in MS folks!!!

  5. My mother’s heart breaks for you. I am sorry you lost your son and I understand all too well the struggle with helping a son deal with anxiety and depression. Thank you for sharing your story. It may help others dealing with similar issues.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.