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Letters to Authorities

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Plea to Attorney General Bill Lockyer,
Sept.11, 2000

September 11, 2000

Attorney General Bill Lockyer
California Attorney General's Office
Sacramento, CA

Attorney General Bill Lockyer,

This letter is to request your timely intervention in a situation we feel has developed to the point where only you have the power to set things right.

On July 21 of this year, a Spanish-speaking, single mother of three children, came into our office with multiple bruises, abrasions, and swellings over her body, injuries she said she received in a beating by an on-duty Santa Rosa police officer the evening before.

Since we found the woman and her story to be very credible, we went with her that same day on July 21 to the Sonoma County District Attorney's office to file a crime report. After much resistance, our DA's office finally agreed to take pictures of the woman's injuries, but they refused then, and in the days that followed, to open a case, refused to take a formal statement from the woman, and refused to investigate. Also in the days that followed, Santa Rosa Police sent a resisting arrest report against the woman to the DA's office. The DA's office sent the report back to police for further investigation.

In early August, after two weeks of the DA's continued rejection of our requests to file a crime report against the officer, the DA sent the pictures and preliminary notes to your office on the understanding that your office would investigate the case against the officer. It is now more than a month since the case went to your office, and still no investigator has been assigned to the case, no statement has yet been taken from the woman, no date has been set to take her statement, and no case number assigned. Your office attorney, Jeff Lauter, continues to tell us he can't find an investigator to handle the case. Since more than a month has now passed, we are finding this increasingly difficult to believe.

If, in fact, police in California are not above the law, we feel this woman has every right to make a timely criminal report and to have it fully investigated as with any other battery resulting in serious injury. Since it's now six weeks after the incident and she has not been afforded that right, we urgently request that you intervene immediately to see that an investigator from your office takes her statement, takes full witness statements, and follows all leads in the case.

Thank you very much for your attention.


Marie De Santis, Director
Women's Justice Center
250 Sebastopol Road
Santa Rosa, CA 95407 (707) 575-3150

Teresa's Story
(not her real name

On July 21, 2000, a deeply distraught Spanish-speaking single mother of three children walked into our office, her movements painful and slow from a fresh beating, her arm in a sling. Teresa told us that she had been beaten by a police officer the day before.

Teresa told us she had come home from work the day before to find police in her backyard and her teenage son in handcuffs. She was told that police believed a friend of her son had stashed a stolen bicycle at her house. Teresa says she asked the officer in broken English if he had papers to be at her house. The officer asked her to wait outside the yard. Teresa asked the officer again if he had papers permitting him to be at her house. Again the officer didn't answer her question. Instead, the officer said, "You're under arrest". Teresa says she then asked the officer again if the officer had permission to be at her house.

Teresa said that without any other provocation the officer grabbed her and pushed her back against a fence and an exercise machine. Then the officer reached over, pulled her back toward him and threw her against the fence and equipment again, this time kicking her as she landed against the fence. Then the officer again reached over, again pulled her back toward him, and again threw her against the fence and equipment. This time, Teresa says she fell to the ground, whereupon the officer bent down and grabbed her arm and twisted it until Teresa was in unbearable pain, at which point a female officer on the scene yelled, "Stop, stop", to the male officer.

According to Teresa, the male officer then picked her up, and handed her over to the female officer. The female officer then transported Teresa to the hospital where she was treated for injuries. At our office (the day after) we could see large multiple bruises and abrasions extending from Teresa's shoulders, all the way down her back and on her buttocks. There were cuts and contusions on her elbow and hands and one arm was in a sling.

Marie De Santis, Director
Women's Justice Center
250 Sebastopol Road
Santa Rosa, CA 95407
(707) 575-3150

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Copyright © Marie De Santis,
Women's Justice Center,

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