WITNESS REVEALS SELF
I deeply regret that I have procrastinated so long in sending this letter. I have been thinking of sending this story on to you as I can see by your Editor’s Letters that you have real empathy for the homeless and I don’t know how to go about looking into the plight of a man who I witnessed having an encounter with a police officer.
It must be close to three or four weeks now. I think it was a Friday afternoon. I was walking across Fourth Avenue at University and saw a few people gathered around a man who was being brought down by a police officer. I have been a physical therapist for many years and my experience with cerebral palsy led me to think that this individual had this condition. I only glanced quickly as I was crossing the intersection but I noted definite spasticity in his legs trying to coordinate and it wasn’t just that he was being “taken down.”
I was in a hurry to get on with my errand and kept going but on my way back about 10 or 15 minutes later I went by same intersection and saw this man on the ground with his arms/hands handcuffed behind his back. The man was extremely distraught and pretty hysterical so he wasn’t able to express himself clearly. He kept yelling, breathlessly “please don’t arrest me, I’m coming up for…housing, and I won’t be able to get it if I have a record of arrest...”
I stopped for a moment and the officer spoke in my direction...asking or stating, “You saw him resisting arrest, didn’t you?” He went on to further say the man was riding his bike recklessly and drove into the back of their police car .
I said I had only seen him grab the man as I walked by and that I thought the man had some type of spastic condition and wasn’t able to walk well. The officer said something about the man only starting to demonstrate that condition later...I’m not sure what he meant as he must have thrown him to the ground and handcuffed him pretty quickly.
I so regret my lack of advocacy for this man. It has been a lesson for me on how not to act in the future.
I am afraid that: 1.) This man was so distraught he could have gone into cardiac arrest or respiratory distress. 2.) He could have been arrested and lost his opportunity at housing to get off the street.
Even if neither of these things happened, here was an individual who was thrown to the sidewalk for a substantial period of time with his arms secured behind his back, strangers all standing, gaping at him like some animal caught in a noose and none of us knowing how to intercede or how to de-escalate the situation with the police presence.
I thought of going to the police station the following week but had second thoughts regarding the feasibility/efficacy of that.
So I’m putting this out to the public. To see if anyone can track this unfortunate person down and see if, after the fact, he may need someone to vouch for him.
I came to believe that he just accidentally ran his bike into the police car, possibly because of his CP condition and that it was a possible case of road rage on the part of the police officer.
My email is: email@example.com.
Margaret Sohar, San Diego
Homeless people were camped in an Escondido building that was mysteriously/deliberately burned (by the campers?) [“Does Red Cross exclude homeless from aid?,” July 6]. People accused the Red Cross of not treating homeless people like disaster victims.
Editors nationwide demanded an end to homelessness. They cited the human right of everyone to live anywhere they want, i.e. San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Rancho Santa Fe, La Costa, Gaslamp, La Jolla.
I don’t feel the Red Cross should be bankrupted in a unattainable failed attempt to end homelessness. They are going to screen people just like rescue missions and shelters do. Alcoholics, addicts, pet owners and violent people will be directed to other charities and emergency rooms.
I don’t feel everyone can demand to live anywhere they want and have someone else pay for it. None of the proposed solutions will cure alcoholism, drug addiction and mental illness. Homelessness will not be ended without mandatory and involuntary treatment and confinement. To wring your hands and claim otherwise is delusion and fantasy.
Sebastian Caspary, San Diego
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Email letters to editor Ron Donoho at firstname.lastname@example.org, or mail to 3047 University Ave., Suite 202, San Diego, CA 92104. For letters to be considered for publication you must include your first and last name and the part of town where you reside.