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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The level of violence that was inflicted on Sureshbhai Patel also was used on me--inside my own home

Sureshbhai Patel
By now, millions of readers around the globe have seen the photo of Sureshbhai Patel in a Huntsville hospital bed, with a spinal injury that an Alabama police officer inflicted.

Like many people, I view the picture with a mixture of anger and disgust. I also look at it and think, "That could have been me."

I've viewed the video of Officer Eric Parker body slamming Patel probably two dozen times, and each time I feel like wincing. That's because law enforcement has used a similar level of violence against me.

According to the words of Shelby County deputy Chris Blevins (see incident report at the end of this post), he threw me to the concrete floor of my garage on October 23, 2013. A more accurate description would be to say that Blevins shoved me as hard as he could--I weigh about 90 pounds more than Patel, but Blevins is significantly bigger than Officer Parker.

Patel was thrown down one time, and I went down three times. He went down on grass, and I went down on concrete. Like Patel, my hands were in a position (trying to protect my face) where I could not use them to break my fall. (Ironically, Patel has been described in several accounts as "elderly," but he's a year younger than I am.)

I did not escape injury--I had cuts, bruises and abrasions up and down my legs, back, and arms. In some cases, I still have the scars--and they probably will always be with me. I now have chronic shoulder pain, which probably started the night of my arrest and got worse from sleeping on metal/iron beds, with almost no cushioning, for five months in jail. (Deputies twisted my arms behind me to apply handcuffs, and Officer Jason Valenti can be heard threatening to break my arms on the video of my arrest. My shoulders are so sore and stiff right now that I struggle to put on a coat.)

How did I manage to not wind up in a hospital bed like Sureshbhai Patel? At the time, I was in fairly good shape for my age, and that probably helped. But mainly, I got lucky because several objects in our garage broke my falls.

First, was a heavy dog pen that belonged to our late miniature schnauzer, Murphy, for whom this blog is named. The pen is solid, to the point that you need to use your shoulder and grunt to move it. Blevins shoved me into it hard enough to move it about three feet. The force left a nasty welt on my back.

On two other occasions, Blevins shoved me into a stack of boxes, which I long had been planning to throw away. This was a case of procrastination paying off because the boxes probably kept my head from hitting the concrete with significant force. Just behind the boxes were a set of free weights, made of solid metal. Had my head hit those . . . well, I might not have survived long enough to make it to a hospital--or to jail.

The video from Huntsville shows that Officer Parker had utter disregard for the well-being of Patel, even though there was zero evidence that the grandfather from India had been involved in a crime. Officer Blevins showed the same disregard for me--and he knew for sure I hadn't committed a crime. Blevins supposedly was acting on a warrant for contempt of court in a civil case, but video of my arrest shows he never told me he had a warrant and never showed a warrant.

Based on courtroom evidence in my "resisting arrest" trial, there was no warrant. And that means my arrest and five-month incarceration essentially were a state-sanctioned kidnapping.

I'm sure Mr. Patel is able to see only a limited number of visitors right now, but I would love to meet him someday. First, I would like to apologize on behalf of my country. I would like to let him know that Alabama has long been a deeply troubled state, even though it has many positive qualities to recommend it. But mostly, I would like to let him know that he isn't alone, that something similar happened to me--and if he and I have the will to stand up against law-enforcement abuse, maybe it will cease someday in the USA.


Anonymous said...

I have a hard time understanding how a sheriff's deputy can just walk in your house without showing a warrant. I'm not an expert on the law, but it just seems common sense that if you go to someone's home to arrest them, you show the warrant.

legalschnauzer said...

Believe you me, I share your concern, @10:44. The video of my arrest shows him entering our garage without showing a warrant or stating why he was there. At that point, I tell him to get out of my house because he essentially was a trespasser. Then he turned into a kidnapper.

Anonymous said...

What if you'd had a firearm in your vehicle? A lot of people carry guns in their vehicles.

legalschnauzer said...

That's a good question, @10:56. If I had shot him, I probably would have gotten a death sentence. But an armed trespasser coming inside your home, with no apparent reason for being there? I think the law allows the use of force against such a person.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Hubbard will roll over on Riley?

e.a.f. said...

At the rate American police officers and prison guards are abusing people in the U.S.A., you wonder when an invasion from Europe is coming, to deal with the infringements of democracy and all that.

When I read this blog and others you do begin to wonder what is the difference between the U.S.A. and those countries they invade. Both run free and wild with death sentences. both have far too much authority with police. Police get to kill at will, especially if the victim is of another ethnic minority.

At times you wonder what is the difference between a member of ISIS and some American cops. Both groups kill innocent people. both dress in funny uniforms, which are intended to intimidate. both think they are above the law, because they are a law unto themselves.

Anonymous said...

If the level of violence used against you was anything like that used against Mr. Patel, then you are dealing with a serious case of police misconduct. There is no excuse for that level of violence in situations like this.

Like you, I have a hard time watching the Patel video.

legalschnauzer said...

I'm just lucky that I didn't land on my head the way Mr. Patel did. The cop in my case was quite a bit bigger than Eric Parker, and he shoved me in the chest as hard as he could--three times. When you're falling backwards on a concrete floor, there is no telling what might happen. Our garage was messy enough that several items broke my falls.

Anonymous said...

Next time my wife wants me to clean up the garage, I'm going to say, "Legal Schnauzer says it's important to keep boxes around to break your fall in case cops come and try to rough you up."

legalschnauzer said...

That's a good one, @4:32. Tell your wife that the Schnauzer endorses messy garages. You never know when they might come in handy.

Anonymous said...

It's fascinating to read Off. Blevins' own words in the incident report. He says right up top that he has two warrants for your arrest on contempt of court (why two?) in his vehicle. Then, he says you kept yelling for him to get out of his house, even after the garage door was closed, and he says he told you he had warrants for your arrest. Why didn't he have at least one of the warrants with him, maybe in his shirt pocket, so he could whip it out and show you? What's the point of having a warrant if you aren't going to show it to the person to be arrested, if you aren't going to show that you have real authority to take the person in? It's almost as if he was trying to get a resisting arrest charge against you. Most people aren't going to just willingly submit to an arrest unless they are shown that it's legitimate. Even Mr. Patel was trying to get away from officers who had not shown him any legit reason for stopping him. It's just human nature.

legalschnauzer said...

You ask some good questions, @8:38. Why two warrants? I'm not sure, but I guess one was for a court date we missed because of insufficient and unlawful notice (less than 24 hours), and the other might have been for allegedly violating a temporary restraining order, which we never were served with and still have never seen, to this day. I say "we" because my wife also was sued, and I could hear officers that night talking about trying to arrest her. It's possible there was one warrant for me and one for her, although Blevins says he had two for me. As for Blevins saying he told me about the warrants after the garage door went down, that is false. I watched the video, and he never says that he is there to arrest me until I've been knocked to the floor three times and maced in the face. He does repeatedly say, "Stop fighting me," even though I wasn't fighting him, as his own words show. He says all I did was put my hands in front of my face. He also says I never tried to run away from him, never threatened or cursed him--none of the things that can bring a resisting arrest charge. Like you, I don't understand why he didn't just put one of the warrants into his pocket and show it to me. (I assume they aren't the size of one of those checks Ed McMahon used to give to Publishers' Clearinghouse winners.)

Unless, of course, Blevins didn't have a warrant--and that's what was shown at my resisting arrest trial. The asst. DA was ordered to turn over the warrants and her reply: "Your Honor, we don't have any."

Seems to me that either Blevins or Asst. DA Willingham is lying.

I think it's possible Blevins threw normal procedure to the wind because someone was under a time crunch regarding my arrest. The video shows that Blevins was staked out at our house, parked near it and slightly out of view for God knows how long before I came home. You would think he was trying to bust a drug pusher.

I think Blevins was told, "You get Shuler tonight, and I don't care how long it takes and what you have to do--get him in here." If Blevins had killed me or caused head trauma, I don't think it would have mattered one iota to these people--just as it didn't matter to Officer Parker that Mr. Patel landed on his head with a spinal injury.

It's clear to me they also wanted Mrs. Shuler, but they never managed to pull that off. She wisely stayed out of view for about a week until they finally quit coming to our house. I think that's because publicity was getting out, and they didn't want to arrest her at that point.

Anonymous said...

So will Hubbard squeal on Riley? It sure looks like Riley will go to prison too...and it does appear that they worked together to put you in jail.