Rape, Lies & Videotape in Ferguson
A pregnant woman’s account of being assaulted by a city police officer and a video of an aggressive Darren Wilson are only heightening the foreboding over the Michael Brown grand jury.
Rape, lies, and videotape deepened the dread in the city of Ferguson as Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency and activated the Missouri National Guard on Monday.
The moment loomed when we would learn whether a grand jury had indicted Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown.
In the meantime, a grand jury had indicted another Ferguson lawman, Correction Officer Jaris Hayden, for allegedly raping a pregnant prisoner in the basement of the city jail.
And a video was posted on YouTube of a citizen’s October 2013 encounter with a uniformed cop who a police department spokesman suggests was not Wilson but almost certainly was.
“If you wanna take a picture of me one more time, I’m gonna lock your ass up,” the cop on the video says from halfway up the walk leading from the curb to the man’s house.
“Sir, I’m not taking a picture, I’m recording this incident, sir,” the man says from his front steps.
The man begins to ask, “Do I not have the right…”
The cop says, “No, you don’t.”
The man only then finishes the already dismissed question, “…to record?”
The cop is now moving toward the man but is still some eight strides away, his hands in his pockets as he utters the words that announce an arrest.
“Come on,” the cop says.
The department spokesman’s doubts notwithstanding, the ensuing arrest report was fielded by none other than Wilson, badge 609. The report states that Wilson had been preparing to issue 30-year-old Mike Arman a summons for having broken-down cars in his yard, in violation of one of the ordinances that allow the city to raise millions of dollars from poor and working people and issue an annual average of three warrants per household. Wilson attests that he arrested Arman for “failure to comply” after he supposedly ignored instructions to “remove the camera from my face in order for us to complete the process of the derelict vehicles.”
Never mind that Arman’s camera was those eight strides from being in Wilson’s face. Wilson also cited Arman for “violation of pit bull regulations,” saying there were three in the yard. Arman would insist that he has only a bulldog.
Wilson’s narrative is enough at odds with the videotape that the possibility arises that his written account is in possible violation of state law 575.080 against making false reports to a law-enforcement officer. That would seem to apply even if you are one yourself.
The report ends with Wilson transporting Arman to the Ferguson jail.
“Arman was then released to the Ferguson correctional staff for booking,” Wilson writes.
Arman would later suggest to a reporter from The Guardian that the charges were dropped after the authorities learned that he had videotaped the encounter.
In any event, Arman seems to have fared much better than a woman who was consigned to the correctional staff at the Ferguson jail after being pulled over for an expired license plate and giving a false name on Oct. 9, 2013.
The woman is identified only by the initials J.W. in court papers from a subsequent federal civil-rights lawsuit. She is described as having been “in her work clothes, that is, nursing scrubs,” as Hayden commenced to fingerprint her and take her mug shot.
“J.W. heard Hayden say softly, ‘You smell good,’” the papers report. “Hayden softly said words to the effect, ‘This will teach you a lesson.’”
The papers note that J.W. had never met Hayden before. She was placed in a cell and Hayden told her that she also had outstanding traffic warrants in other jurisdictions. He repeatedly walked past her cell.
“J.W. was distraught and said words to the effort of, ‘Let me go… I haven’t done anything wrong… I just don’t have money to get my plates,’” the papers report. “Hayden said words to the effect of, ‘Be quiet… Others will hear.’”
The report goes on, “J.W. sensed that Hayden was acting in a sexually provocative manner toward her. J.W. did not respond… J.W. told Hayden that she was several months pregnant. J.W.’s pregnancy was showing.”
J.W. then informed Hayden that she was suffering “pain and discharges.” Hayden checked with a superior and summoned an ambulance. The EMTs checked J.W. and said it was up to Hayden whether she was released into their custody.
“Hayden did not indicate a decision in J.W.’s presence,” the papers say. “Hayden and the EMTs left the room. J.W. never saw the EMTs again.”
Salvation must have seemed at hand when J.W.’s boyfriend arrived and posted the necessary bond to free her on the new Ferguson charges. Hayden removed J.W. from her cell and had her sign some official forms.
“Hayden began to make remarks with words to the effect of, ‘You’re the type of girl that can get me in trouble,’” the papers report.
The papers go on to note: “J.W. was crying. J.W. kept asking to go home. J.W. said, ‘I will do anything to go home.’”
The papers emphasize, “By that remark J.W. did not intend to deliver the message that she would have sex with Hayden in exchange for release. The remark was in the nature of a rhetorical statement while in an emotional state of extreme distress.”
Hayden continued to say that J.W. had outstanding warrants. J.W. had no way of knowing that he had not notified any of those other jurisdictions that she was in custody.
“J.W. was in great fear,” the papers report. “Hayden said, ‘Follow me.’”
The papers allege that Hayden escorted J.W. down a number of hallways.
“Hayden took J.W. into a boiler room in the City of Ferguson jail,” the papers charge. “Hayden then unbuttoned his pants, removed his penis.”
The papers report that J.W. was too afraid to resist his command for her to perform oral sex on him. She nonetheless seems to have proved herself the wrong woman to assault.
“J.W. captured some of Hayden’s pubic hairs in her hand,” the papers report.
She held on to the hair as Hayden led her further back into the boiler room.
“Hayden then had J.W. bend over and he indicated that he was going to have intercourse with her,” the papers say. “Because she was afraid, J.W. did not resist.”
The papers suggest that Hayden was careful not to leave any DNA-laden material.
“Hayden ejaculated in his hand,” the papers allege. “Hayden then released J.W. from jail custody via a side door to the building… Hayden told J.W. words to the effect of, ‘Run and stay close to the building.’”
The papers suggest that this was to avoid security cameras. Hayden might well have imagined he had no further worries, that he was at the very worst in the realm of “he said, she said.” He does not seem to have anticipated that she could have maintained such remarkable presence of mind.
“Immediately after the rape, J.W. went to a Subway restaurant across the street and retained a bag to hold the captured pubic hair,” the papers go on to recount.
J.W’s sister came and took her to a hospital emergency room. Investigators from the St. Louis County Police responded. J.W. presented them with her evidence.
“DNA analysis has confirmed that the public hair is from Hayden,” the papers say.
One remaining question, a question the authorities have not yet answered, is why they took more than a year to arrest Hayden when such seemingly damning evidence was available almost immediately. And then he was charged not with forcible rape, but with having sex with a prisoner and then aiding her escape. His attorney says he will be pleading not guilty at his arraignment in December.
Another lawyer closely associated with the case has indicated that the FBI had become involved in the investigation. That suggests the feds may have come across the stalled case after the shooting of Michael Brown, when U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder ordered a larger investigation into the way law enforcement is conducted in Ferguson.
Even though J.W. and Hayden are both black, she felt only right in filing a federal civil-rights suit on Friday against him and the City of Ferguson. The suit charges that she was denied due process by being raped by a correction officer while in custody.
“The conduct of City of Ferguson law enforcement in engaging in repeated acts of violence and constitutional violations against the citizenry constitutes a pattern,” the suit charges. “The city has taken inadequate steps or no steps at all to control the violent acts of its law-enforcement personnel.”
Another federal lawsuit, one in which a man was arrested in a case of mistaken identity and then charged with destroying property by bleeding on the uniforms of the Ferguson cops who allegedly beat him, was tossed out by a lower court judge who ruled the complainant’s injuries were not sufficiently serious. That case is due to be heard by an appeals court next month.
And then there is the shooting of Brown and the grand jury whose determination is awaited by the whole country. National Guard soldiers who have just returned from dismantling bases in Afghanistan will now serve as backup in case there is more trouble than the cops can handle.
The grand jurors—nine whites and three blacks; seven men and five women—will almost certainly base their decision on state law as it pertains to what they have come to believe most likely happened during those 90 fatal seconds on August 9.
Their work has nothing to do with talk of a pregnant woman being raped by a jailer, or of a video that conflicts with Wilson’s official account of an unrelated arrest a year ago, or of the cop’s shrugging away of a citizen’s right to make that video at a relatively minor moment.
But as we waited on Monday, all of it seemed to swirl together and deepen the dread that is sure to deepen further still as the next sunrise brings a question.
Is today the day?