Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Deputies Torture a Retired Paramedic (by Guest Blogger Don Rallison)
This is an account of my arrest on 12/27/2009, at 12:24 pm, where I was stopped, detained, cuffed, abused, roughed up, threatened, and denied medication in the middle of a medical emergency. This was all for quading on the wrong road and failure to produce a drivers license or ID in the Lake Pleasant Maricopa County Park.
I was proceeding north on the Lake Pleasant bypass road off SR 74 Peoria, AZ in my 2009 Polaris Razor S side by side quad, when two sheriff vehicles drove head on at me from the north and signaled to pull over. My friend Alison was my passenger.
I was immediately yelled at, intimidated, threatened, told I was trespassing and asked if I wanted to be arrested by Sheriff W.H. (Bill) Coleman. I was apologetic for my stupidity for being on the wrong road, cooperative and jovial.
Coleman stayed in the truck and was immediately overly angry, aggressive and demeaning, demanding many things in a very serious, bulling manner. I got out right away, meeting his request for personal and vehicle identification. I went to the rear of my quad to my storage box, looking for my wallet and quad insurance. In the process of finding my insurance, I pulled out my asthma nebulizer, medication for that, and my puffers in a Ziploc bag, and put them out in the open in case I needed the medication during the altercation. I advised the officers I had a serious pulmonary medical condition that might require medication at any time if the asthma flared up and my pulmonary system closed down. I also advised them that because I had been poisoned with H2S (hydrogen sulphide), that my throat dried out quickly and closed up if I did not have water all the time and access to my throat lozenges or my Ice Breakers candies to keep my throat lubricated.
Deputy Osborn was in my face ranting and raving he was a paramedic and knew all about everything. He made me pull off my glasses to see if I was impaired from medication, ranting that some steroids cause impairment. When I put my glasses back on, he demanded I remove them again. I mentioned I had very sensitive eyes to sunlight and needed to wear them, and eventually was allowed to put them on after he badgered me over and over about how I could be “stoned” on my asthma medication.
In the process of finding the insurance, I was being badgered and bullied by Coleman, who threatened to arrest me, saying things like, “Oh, you really want to be arrested don’t you? You are going to jail,” over and over. I took the insurance to Coleman’s truck and handed it to him. My attitude was pleasant and cooperative and jovial, desiring to meet all of Coleman’s demands. In the process of looking for my information, I realized I only had my Visa credit card, as I hadn’t put my wallet in the quad. I explained this to Coleman and apologized, showing him the insurance certificate and my credit card.
He immediately accused me of possibly possessing a stolen Visa card, and that this was no assistance to him in identifying me. Over and over he kept threatening to arrest me, and asking me If wanted to be arrested. He gave me a pad and pen, and demanded I write my name, DOB and Social Security number. I complied. Coleman became increasingly angry, boisterous and abusive about my name, Don, and accused me of trying to lie and deceive him. He insisted that my name must be Donald or Donny and was not Don. I assured him it was my legal name. He increasingly became irritated, and abusive, escalated his aggressive manner and threats of imprisonment.
Absolutely nothing I could tell him or say to him upon his requests were good enough as witnessed by Alison before they separated us, and took her where she could not see the abuse the officers were doing and was going to do further once she was out of my sight. Coleman and Osborn wanted me to “kiss their asses,” belittling me constantly with aggressive words, movements towards me and threats. It was obvious to me Coleman’s intention was to escalate a simple “driving down a restricted road” to an aggressive arrest and detainment. That was his goal the whole time of his inappropriate questioning and detainment.
He then became even angrier after I wrote the information for him. He demanded I write it again clearer for him. I immediately complied and gave him my legal mailing address in Cottonwood. He was irritated he could not find me on his computer system. I told him I had a British Columbia driver’s license, and recently within the last month registered a vehicle in Cottonwood, AZ and he should be able to find me on the DMV database. He could not find my vehicle or my information. I told Coleman I was camped over at Lake Pleasant RV Park, and my wallet must have been left in the RV. I offered to get it for him if he required.
Sheriff S. E. Osborn was standing close to me at the back of my quad during the interrogation. Coleman and Osborn became increasingly aggressive, demeaning, and overly excessive in their questioning and my treatment. My throat started drying excessively and I requested to get my Ice Breakers so my throat would not close up. When I made a move to get my candies for my throat, Osborn chose to put the handcuffs on me. He tightened them up way too tight, cutting off my circulation in both wrists, causing me pain and started roughing me up, and pushing me into my quad with my chest against my quad. I could see concerns of my asthma flaring up with the increasing police abuse and rough physical treatment. I explained that if I had an asthma attack that I would need my medication and I would need the nebulizer treatment to recover from the asthma attack. I explain to both officers that my lungs were poisoned with H2S gas, and that I needed water and throat lozenges all the time to keep my throat from drying up and closing up due to the nature of the poisoning. Osborn was cooperative a couple of times in assisting giving me water from my drink bottle that was filled with Propel. A few minutes later when I became irritated, I could not get enough water and needed my lozenges for my throat that was drying up and the bronchial airway was closing up. He denied me any water at all. I told them I was a retired paramedic.
As their aggression increased, they took Alison out of sight. Their aggression increased the second she was gone. I was trying to tell her where to find my wallet and to bring my driver’s license and to also call a lawyer immediately, and that I wanted to press civil charges against the officer for gross excessive force. I was cooperative with all information they wanted, but I was still roughed up and jerked around with the cuffs to purposely injure my shoulders, arms and wrists. I was told I could not talk to her and to stop yelling to her, that I was being “aggressive” by trying to talk to her. I started to severely cramp and have spasms in my abdomen, pulmonary system and back-kidney area. I was bending over in pain due to their excessive force and rough treatment. I requested they put the cuffs on in front so I could deal with the medical issues and the severe cramping, and so I could bend over to assist in the cramp dissipating. There were hurting me, pushing me around and roughing me up increasingly and would not loosen the cuffs. Osborn said he had one finger width in between my wrists and the cuffs. I advised him that was not the case, as my hands were going numb from lack of circulation and had incredible pain from the cuffs being purposely put on too tight just to cause me more pain and suffering.
I became increasingly upset and panicked by all the verbal abuse, swearing, threats and physical abuse and pain being caused by the officer to intentionally make me break. I told them I did not have a problem with filing civil abuse and excessive arrest behavior charges against them because of their unprofessional action. They then denied me access to my water. My throat was drying out severely from all the communications with them, and I requested I be given one of my Ice Breakers again to help my throat. They said they did not know what they were and that they could be drugs and refused to give me water or my lozenges. At that time I yelled at Alison again to document their actions when she got back to the trailer, to call a lawyer and have him file charges against the officers.
I was not going to be intimidated and roughed up by these unprofessional bully tactics without taking action against them and they did not like the fact I said that to Alison. I was thrown to the ground, pushed over, cramping and crying for help to have the cuffs loosened. He refused to loosen the cuffs, laughing at me and smiling at Coleman, saying they could do anything they wanted and that I had no rights at all with them.
Their aggression increased as they mocked and swore at me. I was in the sun for about 40 minutes, not allowed water or my medication. If Osborn was a licensed paramedic as he said he was, it was evident I was having an asthma attack. My airways started closing up. I was coughing severely, could not breath and begged them for the medication.
I asked them to put my hat on and take my coat off. Osborn called me a “dumb shit” for not bringing a hat to the desert. This angered me as I had my hat on when I was stopped but took it off and they refused to put it on. I asked to let me take off my coat as I was becoming overheated, having breathing problems and coughing. Instead they threw me to the ground as I was cramping up and trying to find a position to relieve the pulmonary and abdominal cramps. They refused to let me use my nebulizer medical equipment or my asthma puffer. Instead they called the Peoria Fire Department. At that time, I started to swear at them. I was so angry they would not give me my medication, which was just a few feet away and out in the open. I had reached my limit of pain, become panicky, scared and thought I might die without my medication. My verbal language increased as I feared dying on the road when the medication was feet away. Never in my life have I ever seen an officer of the law act like this, a man who gloated he was a paramedic, while breaking every police and paramedic oath for assisting a choking man having an asthma attack.
Coleman advised the paramedics I just did not want to go to jail and was not having an asthma attack. Osborn just mocked me in front of the firefighters/paramedics, and claimed that I was trying to keep out of jail by faking an attack. One paramedic did give me one drink from my water bottle while the officers filled their heads with negative comments about me. The paramedics started siding with the officers, and would no longer let me take fluids while in the heat there for 40 minutes.
The medic took my blood pressure and O2 saturation level only, advising me my O2 level was 98% and that I did not need my asthma medication. He did not check my breathing, chest or back with a stethoscope to hear the restrictive breathing in the bronchial tubes and pulmonary system and advised me he did not think I was an asthmatic. He said he did not think I was having an asthma attack, even though my breathing became increasingly restricted in front of them. I was gagging, coughing, and pulmonary fluid was coming up and phlegm. I was spitting out the fluids from my lungs as it became increasingly difficult to breath. I apologized and warned all around me I had to spit.
Another fire truck showed up and I think there were 8 Peoria firefighters/paramedics. I was cramping severely, asking for help, asking for them to give me a breathing treatment to open up my bronchial system, which was obviously closing up and causing me extreme breathing difficulties. As I was asking for my medication all the while on the ground, the 4-5 sheriffs laughed at me, mocking me, telling one another, “Look he is still alive and talking. He just got out 15 swear words, so he must not be having an asthma attack.” I started panicking, could not breath, begged them and cussed at them for standing around when I needed simple help and medication that was available. Osborn during the whole time kept yelling at me and telling the firefighters I just did not want to go to jail, and was advising the medics I was not having an asthma attack. He sat me up and was kneeing me in the back from behind, making it look like he was letting me lean against his knees and continually yanked on my arms to cause pain with the cuffs.
They refused to loosen the cuffs regardless of my plea or put them on in front so I could better deal with the pulmonary cramp and cramps all over now. I became increasingly panic ridden, coughing and gagging, apologizing that I had to spit, trying to breathe without my medication. It was truly amazing that I did not expire and stop breathing. I had no other choice but to try to control the attack without medication, regardless of the physical and verbal abuse the officers exerted on me.
Coleman came over to assist Osborn, to stand up with him on one side and Osborn on the other side. In the process of doing that, Coleman pulled on my arms excessively yanking me up, while Osborn yelled at me to stay down. It was a coordinated effort between the two officers to purposely injure me further, intimidate me and play with my psyche. One saying he wanted me to stand up, laughing, and the other driving me down to ground, making the cuffs cut into my wrist, contrary to their instructions. They were the most rude, aggressive, antagonistic officers I have seen in my life as a paramedic. They were openly laughing with each other and enjoying roughing me up as much as they could without making any physical visible marks on my body.
I asked numerous times to be allowed to lean up against my quad in the shade, and I was denied that. I was denied a hat for my bald head, denied water and my medication. All adding to my increasing irritation and panic. I swore at them, cussed at them and told them what terrible abusive assholes they were, not caring how they treated me.
At no time did I ever threaten any physical harm to them, other than I was going to charge them for excessive force during a simple stop for quading on the wrong road. I never once made on aggressive movement to them or tried to raise my hands against them. Their force was grossly excessive from the onset. Their verbal abuse and intimidation was nothing I have ever had to deal with in my life, let alone coming from supposed professional police officers. There was absolutely no need for the cuffs or for the cuffs being tightened purposely to injure me and cause me pain. No need for any of their rough treatment, the kneeing me in the back and jerking me around to tear my shoulder muscles, arms and wrists to purposely cause injury to someone who was cooperating with their questioning.
There was one officer who talked to my friend, apologizing for Coleman’s actions and abuse. He was openly embarrassed about Coleman’s manners and way, telling her he shows up on every scene “loaded for bear.” The officer who was going to transport me told me that Coleman told him I spit on him, and asked if he needed to put a mask on me for transport. I advised him I was having an asthma attack and told all of them I had to get fluid and phlegm out of my lungs, apologized and then spat on the ground, never at any officer or fire fighter. If Coleman was telling the truth to the other officer and it was not another antagonistic comment to escalate the arrest, then I implore Coleman to supply the clothes I spit on as evidence or the cloth or Kleenex they supposedly used to clean it up on them. It was just a constant continuation of lies, abuse, and poisoning everyone around me that I was such a terrible person that required and justified excessive force to subdue me and for everyone around me to see I was uncooperative and combative, which was a total lie.
I advised the officer of the truth, and he did not put the mask on me. He was the most professional police officer on the site. I believe he drove my friend to the RV where my driver’s license was retrieved. He treated Alison with respect and at no time engaged in the abuse or excessive force that was enacted by all the other officers and firefighters.
I was transported to a holding cell at the Lake Pleasant Sheriff’s office. There was no toilet paper. When I asked Osborn for some he told me to use my coat to “wipe my own fucking ass,” and laughed at me. He told me I had no rights in jail.
After some time, I was called to step back from the door. I got a drink of water, which Osborn and Coleman tried to rush from me as they did not want me to take a drink before the long ride to town. I knew it was my only chance for water as they refused to give any to me earlier. I was yelled at to stop drinking and to step outside and turn around. I did not know Coleman’s name at the time, as I needed to see his nametag to memorize it and identify him for my complaint. I was jerked around hard and told to look forward. He yelled at me to drop my coat, pulled out his Taser and threatened to tase me because I just did not comply fast enough for him. He roughed me up some more in front of the other officers, cuffed me too tight and too hard. I asked if they could cuff me in the front to deal with the cramps, and was told it was against their policy.
The transportation officer had all the windows closed and the A/C vents in the prisoner section closed. I requested many times to have my cuffs changed to the front as I was in extreme pain and cramping. By the time I got to the city I was in such pain I was crying, cramped up so bad I could hardly move or function.
I have temporarily lost feeling in parts of both hands, which are now numb and swollen, and have other medical problems from the rough treatment from Coleman and Osborn.
Don's life was so affected by this incident, he's now on a crusade to expose the Arpaio regime, and has set up the website Exposing Joe Arpaio & Police Thuggery
Click here to read about the special Xmas punishment Sheriff Joe Arpaio devised for his prisoners
Click here for tips on surviving Sheriff Joe Arpaio's jail
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Shaun P. Attwood