Justice for Cooley

My name is Cooley*, I am 36 years old and I grew up in Southern California. I had recently moved to Louisiana in hopes for a fresh start back in 2018 when I was a victim of police violence in Jefferson Parish.

On December 10th, 2018, I was sent home from work early after feeling nauseous and throwing up. At around 3 o’clock in the afternoon, I left my house to go to Family Dollar to pick up some soup. On my way there, I realized that I had forgotten my wallet and pulled into an apartment complex driveway to turn back home. As soon as I pulled in, an unmarked police car pulled behind me and turned on its lights. The officer immediately recognized me due to previous interactions and as he approached my car, the officer said, ‘Oh Cooley’. I rolled my eyes, knowing the following interaction may not go well. This aggravated the officer who then stated: “Oh you’re going to look at me like that. Get the fuck out of the car.” As I was going to place my hands on my car, the officer grabbed my arm, slung me to the floor, and began attacking me.

As I was pinned down, I realized there were around five other officers. They had my face on the ground and began excessively kicking and hitting me while yelling ‘Stop resisting arrest’. I tried screaming to get anyone else’s attention. The officer who pulled me over stuck his fingers in my eyes while another officer had their foot on the back of my neck. I kept telling the officers I could not breathe. The officers then joked with one another saying ‘let’s put his head in a puddle’. Even after the officer put me in handcuffs and shackled me, they repeatedly punched my face four times.

After they had detained me, they began searching my car without a warrant or probable cause and while I was waiting, I asked for my phone. They told me it was ‘in the puddle’ to which I responded, ‘It’s waterproof’. The police called a tow truck and my girlfriend arrived at the scene. She asked them for my insurance, but they took the car with everything in it, and I was never given my phone or insurance back. When I was being put in the police car, the original officer who pulled me over said: “Call me a bitch, I will kill you next time”.

As soon as I got to the jail, the nurse there told them to take me to the hospital. Two officers accompanied me and when I asked them why they beat me up, the officers said it was because I attacked a police officer. However, in court the only charges brought against me were minor traffic violations such as not using his turn signal, the window tint being too dark, and not having his license.

I eventually filed a complaint with Internal Affairs at my police department and never got a response, despite being told they would interview each officer involved.

It took around two weeks for me to recover from my physical injuries. I had a red spot on my eye, bumps on my head, and severe shoulder pain. I was in so much pain that I visited an urgent care a few days after my arrest. Though I am now physically recovered, the emotional trauma this incident has had affects my everyday life. I am always scared now and never go to places alone. Even at my part time job delivering pizzas, I must have my girlfriend on the phone to feel secure.

Reflecting back on this incident makes me feel sick due to the lack of accountability and repercussions law enforcement officers face. I do not know what was done with the officer who led my attack and I hate knowing he could be actively hurting others.

I am sharing my story now because I believe no one should have to go through this. Looking back on the day of my attack is hard, however I believe sharing my story has been therapeutic. Though I do not have the answers on how we should fix the criminal justice system, I do know that something must change. I believe that having body cameras on all police officers should be a start. My advice to other victims of police violence is to get your story out there in any way possible in order to spread awareness.

*A pseudonym has been given to the subject of this story to keep their identity private.

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