The following article was a submission (Go to VirginiaCopBlock.org to submit your own stories/ contact us) by a local Richmonder named Justin Faison.
Hello, my name is Justin and I’m a dangerous criminal. That’s how the police in Chesterfield County see me, anyway.
In April, I was pulled over for driving with a rejection sticker on my car and, after they ran my license and claimed to have discovered an outstanding warrant out of Philadelphia, was subsequently detained and taken to Chesterfield County Jail. I say ‘detained’ because I was told repeatedly that I was not being arrested, just being held until they could work out the extradition proceedings. I was strip-searched, put into a hostile environment without my medication, and subjected to public humiliation when they published my picture inGotcha! (the weekly rag that lists recently arrested and convicted criminals). I was refused bail at my first hearing although I have no criminal history and it wasn’t until after spending two weeks behind bars that they allowed me to leave on my own recognizance to figure out what I needed to do to satisfy the warrant. Only—get this—there was no warrant. I called several different offices around Chesterfield and Philadelphia, was bounced around and transferred through the web of the legal system, and no one could find a warrant under my name. No history of a warrant, no paperwork, nothing. Like it never even existed.
Many of you are nodding along with this because you’ve heard stories like this before. It happens so often that it isn’t even surprising anymore. In those short two weeks I lost my job and my car which, in addition to my detainment, has made finding a new source of income extremely difficult. Needless to say, because of my recent experiences I have a strong mistrust of law enforcement and the American legal system in general. I have since decided to become more active in exposing police misconduct whenever possible.
I told you that to tell you this—last night, I was out walking my dog and saw someone I knew who lives in the same apartment complex as my mother (I happened to be there because she occasionally needs help around the house and I was staying with her). He was being hauled off by the cops, so I took out my phone and began recording. I approached an officer and asked what the man was being arrested for but was given no answer. I was instead greeted with no-nonsense hostility and the officer [Farrhard El-Amin] asked me for my identification, which I refused to give him. I was well within my rights to refuse, as I was not under suspicion at the time. The officer [Farrhard El-Amin] asked several times for my ID in an increasingly threatening manner until finally he told me to put my hands behind my back and wrestled me to the ground. In the confusion, I strained my wrist and was burned by my cigarette. I had done nothing to justify this level of physical abuse.
When I called later to file a formal complaint against the officer, the woman, [Sergeant Crystal Simmons] I spoke to was unreasonably aggressive after I informed her that I was recording the conversation (LISTEN HERE) and attempted to twist my words around to make it sound as though I was lying about the incident.
The violence that police officers all over the country are being allowed to perpetuate is utterly insane. We’ve all read the stories—mentally disabled people shot in their own homes after calling for help, animals killed for no reason at all, innocent civilians being fired upon, babies burned by flashbang grenades . . . and what happens to the officers who commit these acts of violence? Yes, they are occasionally punished, but all too often they’re suspended or given paid leave to get them off the force so that the authorities can be seen doing something, but it’s not enough.
It’s time we put in place a system of accountability for those bullies who trust in the blue wall to protect them from any repercussions. I urge you all to keep an eye out and say something when what you see doesn’t look right. Write to your local news stations, take video, record the names of the officers involved, contact your local government offices. You don’t have to do it all, but please . . . do something. It’s time that the police be compelled to serve and protect again, rather than continue to torment and harm innocent people.