The following is a letter sent to Sheriff Lombardo and all whom it may concern, about the ordeal suffered by our friend Vera, witnessed by George Killingsworth, my new friend and first walking buddy for the Sacred Peace Walk we took part in last week, the most nonviolent protest action I’ve ever attended (not that any I attend have any intent of violence anyway and almost all swear to peacefulness, though the principles of this annual tradition are what make it what it is), following their arrests for unlawful assembly (civil disobedience of blocking an entrance to Creech Air Force Base; personnel were simply rerouted to the next entrance)… None of us expected any brutality to be inflicted or suffered by our peacewalkers. Vera is a longtime peace activist friend of mine (here we’re pictured on the news side-by-side in a similar yet less pre-planned action at one of the early police brutality protests in 2014) and we were all worried when we heard this and that she was detained for several more hours than her fellow arrestees. I also have video of other protesters’ eyewitness accounts. This is George’s story:
ABU GHRAIB STYLE EXCESSIVE ABUSE AND MALPRACTICE
AT CLARK COUNTY DETENTION CENTER / LAS VEGAS
TO: SHERIFF JOSEPH LOMBARDO / LAS VEGAS METROPOLITAN POLICE
ASSISTANT SHERIFF TODD FASULO / LV POLICE ADM AND DETENTION GROUP
OFFICER RICHARD SUCY / DETENTION SERVICES DIVISION
OFFICER JOHN MCGRATH / PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS DIVISION
CAPT. JASON LETKIEWICZ / HUMAN RESOURCES DIVISION
CAPT. ANDREW PERALTA / CENTRAL BOOKING BUREAU
FM: GEORGE KILLINGSWORTH
RE: OFFICER WOMACK:
EXTREME VIOLENT ABUSIVE BEHAVIOR BY OFFICER WOMACK
AND OTHER BOOKING OFFICERS IN LAS VEGAS CCDC ON APRIL 11, 2017
On Tuesday, April 11, 2017 I was arrested and detained for eight hours while being booked in the Las Vegas Clark County Detention Center [CCDC]. I was arrested along with four other companions for our protest of crimes being planned and committed in our name at Creech Airforce Base.
This was my second experience of being detained at CCDC and as an 81 year old retired Clergy-person I have made many hundreds of visits with parishioners in jails and prisons over the years. I have no expectation of being treated gently while under arrest, but I do expect simple respect.
You affirm the following standards in your STATED VALUES:
INTEGRITY / COURAGE / ACCOUNTABILITY / RESPECT FOR PEOPLE / EXCELLENCE
On April 11, I witnessed violations of all of these values .. and herein detail one particularly egregious abuse.
To assure the safety of staff and fellow prisoners in is understandable that during the initial booking process personal items and possessions must be surrendered and held and trust until discharge. Most of my possessions were surrendered to the arresting officer at Creech and after entering CCDC I also surrendered my shoes, rings and elastic hair band. Booking officers removed my handcuffs and watched me as I removed my rings and hair band. Thereafter I was re-cuffed and walked to a seating area along with 40 or more other prisoners where we all awaited the next step in the booking process.
From where I was seated I could see across the room to where I had just undergone the initial booking step. I was alarmed when I heard the cry of one of my Creech arrestee companions [Vera Anderson] and watched as her hair was roughly pulled despite her understandable supplications.
Officer Womack not only ignored my companion’s pleas, but escalated the rough physical and verbal abuse … recklessly pulling and actually cutting my companion’s hair to remove the elastic bands. Unlike my case, my companion’s cuffs were never removed and she was not invited to remove the bands from her own hair. Understandably she did turn her head to minimize the pain being inflicted .. and this was evidently seen by Officer Womack as insubordination, whereupon Officer Womack and two other male Officers threw my friend on the floor pummeling her and unnecessarily restraining her with their fists and knees. Then she was thrown into a restraining chair with tight chains on her ankles and wrists. She was then wheeled around a corner of the waiting room to where fewer witnessing eyes could witness the additional “processing”.
It is worth noting that my companion who was so excessively and unnecessarily abused is African American and Officer Womack, like myself, is White. As is so routinely the case, people with my skin color receive undeserved preferential and privileged treatment. Sadly Officer Womack’s violently abusive behavior illustrated that Black Lives Matter Much Lessto those with unrestrained power and authority.
Hours later in the prolonged booking process, Officer Womack ordered two other prisoners and myself around the corner of the room to line up for mug shots. As it turned out I was the last in this line of three and found myself standing beside my friend in the restraining chair. I quietly asked her if she was still in pain whereupon Officer Womack yelled at me to “shut the fuck up” and come to the front of the line to have my photo taken. I followed her command whereupon she changed her mind and had another Officer walk me back to the waiting room where I was re-cuffed and seated in an area with other “difficult” prisoners.
In the course of my eight hour detention, I repeatedly asked for food and nourishment .. my requests were ignored. I repeatedly asked to make a phone call [there were three phones on the waiting room wall]. I was told that I could not make a call because I was soon to be discharged. After this last denial I was put into a final stage holding cell together with 12 other prisoners where I was held for three hours.
This three hour period was the most treasured part of the day for me. Locked in the holding cell there were no guards to disrespect us, abuse us and provoke us. We shared life stories and friendships were made that have continued following discharge. One new friend literally gave me the shirt off his back. Another extremely talented holding cell friend treated us to amazing hip hop poetry and rap spoken word performance art. He has several stunning videos on youtube and I believe he will surely make his future mark as a brilliant poet and performer. None of us were or are angels … but surely the most human interaction we enjoyed that day was during those three hours locked together in the holding cell protected from disrespectful guards.
Everyone in the CCDC booking room that day should have been presumed innocent until proven otherwise in Court and therefore deserving of and treated with respect … as your stated values affirm.
I urge you to discipline Officer Womack and maybe even remove her from positions where she can continue her violently disgraceful and likely racist abuse.
Thank you for hearing me out.
Rev. George Killingsworth