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Why I Distrust the Police.

September 26, 2007

A previous post about the tasering of a University of Florida student got me thinking about all of the police abuse I’ve witnessed or heard about growing up in Gainesville. To be honest this incident is only remarkable because it actually made the news. From causing minor annoyances to killing innocent people I can’t really think of a time where there wasn’t anything other then hatred for the UFPD and its citywide counterpart GPD. I was pleasantly surprised when arriving at AU I found out how kind and gentle our public safety officers were, and for that matter the DC metro police as a whole.

Since the seventh grade it had been standard practice for our teachers to tell their students at least once a year to never talk to a police officer without a lawyer, even if you didn’t do anything wrong. My first personal experience with UFPD came on July 27, 2004. I remember it well because it just happened to be the very first day I had my driver’s license. After playing pool at the university rec center I was driving home with a friend of mine when I was pulled over on campus for what I would later find out was suspicion of a stolen vehicle. After being spread eagled on the front of the officer’s patrol car, patted down and having my car searched for almost an hour the officer laughed at me for being pulled over on my first day and sent me on my way. This was the first of seven such incidents. Each time I was let off without so much as a warning. I have been pulled over by Gainesville police for everything from suspicion of illegal U-turn to having out of date tags on my license when in fact they were in date. Each time I was verbally abused and patted down. After the first time I wised up and no longer permitted any kind of attempt to search my car. If I added all of my friend’s stories this blog would run on forever.

These are only petty grievances, something to complain about to your friends but nothing worst then a sprained wrist or a weekend in jail. The reason I wrote this post was for two incidents far more serious then even last weeks tazing.

The first is a 2003 incident that sadly was never given its full day in the media spotlight because the victim was far too ashamed to come forward. A nineteen year old University of Florida student was raped in the Alachua County Jail by his fellow inmate. While prison rape is not uncommon, this particular incident stood out for several reasons. The kid was serving his first of four weekend sentences for attempting to distribute marijuana. He was placed in a cell with Randolph Jackson, a thirty-five year old convicted rapist who had also been accused of raping three previous cellmates. After placing him in his cell the cops simply walked away, having to know what was going to happen. Jackson, who is HIV positive, quickly forced a ballpoint pen to the kid’s throat. In the aftermath the kid required several stitches in his rectum. Of course nothing ever happened to the officer’s involved as the whole episode was said to have been a simple fault of jail overcrowding.

Corey Rice is a name some of you may foggily remember hearing about several years ago. This happened on one of my favorite streets in Gainesville, known for countless late night adventures. Around 1 am on June 30, 2001 thirty year old Corey Rice, an architecture grad student, was pulled over for failing to stop at a stop sign by Officer Jimmy Hecksel. As the officer approached his window Rice slowly backed up, and then began pulling away. Claiming Rice was trying to run him over, Officer Hecksel unleashes seven shots with his forty caliber, hitting Rice three times. Rice would die several hours later in the hospital. While I could not find the video itself, stills from the video show that it looked like at no point was Officer Hecksel in danger.

While countless pages have been given to the tasing, little was made about these previous incidents. As a result I was only able to find small press releases about this incident. Police Brutality Prison Rape Corey Rice

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