Originally published December 22 2014
True story: How my family overcame police brutality, false arrest and pure evil disguised as authority
by L.J. Devon, Staff Writer
(NaturalNews) I grew up thinking that every police officer had good intentions, that they were there to protect and serve, but that all changed one night in Uplands Park, Missouri, as my wife and I passed through a small municipality in St. Louis. I'd seen red and blue in my rearview mirror before, but I had no idea that this set of lights, on this cold night, would become engrained in my mind forever -- forever changing my perspective on police, on power and on how corrupt it all can be, even in America.
The traffic stop was irregular from the start. Using a bull horn, the officers instructed aloud precisely where I should pull over. They directed me to an exact position in a very dark location. The officer, Janet Riley, was hasty and unprofessional taking my driver information. When she returned to the car, she began a series of events I will never forget. As if she suddenly went possessed, her eyes widened, running to the passenger side of the car. In that hurried moment, she pulled out paraphernalia of some sort, spouting, "I saw what you threw out the window!"
We knew the windows had been rolled up because of the cold January air, and we knew that we threw nothing out, but the now-irate Officer Riley hurried over to my window to demand, "Give me your keys." I hesitated, suddenly stricken with fear. She reached in and took the keys from me, quickly rushing back over to my wife's passenger door. She unlocked it in frenzy, pulling my wife out of the car. I remember shaking in this moment, paralyzed, thinking aloud, "What's going on?"
At the same time, several squad cars surrounded my vehicle as if planned; several African American men in police uniforms surrounded my vehicle. I could hear my wife calling out for help, crying, wailing. The men provoked me from my car and harassed both of us, our bodies. They went through my vehicle and my wife's purse, taking things that they felt they could keep, laughing in our face. They handcuffed my wife in the false-arrest scheme, putting her in the initial squad car. I remember coming to grips with what was happening at this point. I remember gathering the courage and asking, "Where are you taking my wife?"
Riley's words still ring in my head to this day, as she responded, "You aint gonna see your wife, get to walkin', have a nice life." She laughed in my face and said they were going to tow my car away as well. At this moment, I knew I could not let my wife out of my sight. She was being taken from me. I will never forget feeling powerless like that, seeing her tear-stricken face behind the glass window, as I mouthed, "I love you." In those moments, I called my parents who lived hours away and asked the officers to take me wherever my wife was being taken.
Just down the block, we were led down outdoor concrete steps that winded their way down to a dingy basement which was their police station. They first cuffed her to a desk and eventually put her in a cell, playing with our emotions, talking profanely. I did not waver. I remember the officer trying to indict me for the paraphernalia that she fabricated and would not show; she tried to guilt me into confessing as a trade-off for freeing my wife. I was not fooled. I continuously said, "Give me back my wife." I vividly remember a dark officer getting in my face and saying profanely, "If you don't shut up, then we will take your wife where you will not get her back."
As I quieted and waited, their last move was to demand ransom, saying that she would be released if we hand over a large sum of money. Money no longer mattered. I just wanted my wife back. I remember praying aloud as my wife cried. By the time my parents arrived to free us and pay the ransom, most of the officers had left. I remember hugging her again in tears.
For the next several weeks, we received letters in the mail from the corrupt police department. We had to pay a fee to get my car back. I remember wanting to seek revenge; my primal instincts wanted to kill, but I waited and held my wife close. The charges were ultimately dropped with the help of a lawyer. We read several articles about the police department in Uplands Park, about how officers there had been found guilty of stealing from and raping women right in the basement that we were trapped in. We found out that many officers worked unlicensed; some were basically street thugs. How could this be going on in America?
Ironically, in 2012 the police department and the community ran out of money. St. Louis County swept in and shut the police station down, taking over patrols. This brought a sort of consolation and justice, knowing that the station was no longer in operation. Ultimately, Janet Riley had to hand over her keys, her badge and her squad car.
In the end, we learned how to forgive at the deepest level, even after being abused by the people we were taught to trust the most. False arrests and police brutality aren't necessarily fueled by racial tensions. In small inner-city municipalities, they are often fueled by evil intentions of greed and lust, which is further bolstered by power unrestrained -- power not held accountable.
We continue to respect law enforcement to this day, but more importantly we understand our human rights and will defend them and others, if they are abused. We believe in the principles of the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Excessive use of force runs rampant today, under the code of law and in the backlash against it, but in the end, it was forgiveness that conquered everything for me and my wife. Love and forgiveness bring justice in the heart. Force and violence is not the answer, and all Americans, especially those in positions of power, must realize that all lives matter.
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