On Wednesday night, March 31, 2010, Officer Justin Winkle of the Eureka Police Department [EPD], once again, went too far and hurt someone.
Winkle was one of the cops who killed Martin Cotton II in August of 2007- beat him to death. The other night, he abused a 20 year old woman who was happily skipping down the street. He stopped her and said that he was looking for a woman in particular (a “suspect”). He demanded ID, and when the woman gave him her name, he called it in. The EPD voice on the other end of the police radio informed Winkle that she was not the one- not the person the police were looking for. Nevertheless, Winkle continued to detain the young woman. She told him that she had done nothing wrong and wanted to leave, that there is no law against skipping, and she knew that she had a right to continue on her way.
Winkle, however, grabbed her while she was leaving, tightened onto her arm, and threw her down. The woman's head hit, first, the front bumper of the police car, then the hard ground. Winkle jumped on her back and handcuffed her. He then pulled her up onto her feet, and she too tried to stand up. All the while the woman is asking why she is being arrested, but now she has a head injury.
The young woman has a large abrasion on her forehead, has been having a painful headache, has bruises and cuts covering both of her knees, is having terrible back pain, has a bruise about her spine and lower back, bruises on her thigh and buttock, very sore wrists with cuts and cuff marks, and her arm in pain and marked.
After the young woman was standing, Winkle moved her toward the back of the car and shoved her tall and thin body and her head toward the trunk, straining her back and keeping her in pain. She told Winkle that her body could not remain that way and he did nothing to prevent such pain- this, all while she was handcuffed. Two other officers arrived after the young woman was in Winkle's police car.
Winkle took the young woman to St. Joseph's hospital. While handcuffed, he had the hospital attendants take a blood sample from the woman. Unlike many situations when the hospital staff continues to criminalize a patient who has been abused by police, treating them poorly and with disdain, these hospital staff seemed to sympathize with her when she told them what happened. The young woman is soft spoken and gentle. The hospital cleaned her wounds and took her blood (with her hands behind her back in cuffs), perhaps finding a fraction of wine from the woman's dinner. However, they did not check her head or back for internal injuries.
Winkle was joined in the hospital by three other officers: Officer Howden, a short cop with dark hair, and, from the description we received, Officer Rabang. Winkle tried to give the impression that he was wounded by the woman he'd arrested because of the few scrapes on his hand. Perhaps if he did not rough her up on the concrete and asphalt, his hands – which act with such impunity no matter what they do- would have no scrapes. Winkle also said something about the young woman being “on something,” - untrue, but a predictable and common attempt by a cop to justify his brutal behavior.
Winkle then brought the young woman to the Humboldt County Jail (Correctional Facility), and she was essentially booked (stripped to her lowest layer, searched, asked personal questions, fingerprinted, photographed) and released in the wee hours of April 1, 2010.
Winkle, as reflected in the Agreement to Appear that the young woman signed in jail, wants her charged with Drunk in Public/ Public Intoxication (which legally means someone is so messed up they cannot take care of themselves or are danger to others) and Resisting, Obstructing, or Delaying an officer in the course of his lawful duty. Both “resisting” and “drunk in public” are charges most commonly used by cops after they abuse someone, and/or arrest a person for no reason. That way, the survivor of the abuse or false arrest has to put all her energy into defending herself in court- get distracted, tired out, and have a harder time taking action regarding what the police did to her. Now it is up to the DA to decide if and what charges this young woman may get. And Gallegos is always willing to charge a victim of police abuse, in other words, to make sure there's a cover-up.
Meanwhile, she has been traumatized and the injuries are all over her body.