INTERNAL AFFAIRS

BEATEN, BADGERED AND BRUISED. WHERE CAN PHOENIX BLACKS AVENGE POLICE BRUTALITY?

"There he is. Get him!" is what Jermond remembers the officer saying.
"I could see the cop, and what he was saying was, `Get him! Get him!'"
What did Jermond Ransom think when the dog attacked him?
"I wasn't thinking, I was just yelling."

The thirteen-year-old was bitten on the inside and outside of his leg and scraped in numerous other areas.

When the shepherd finished mauling Jermond, the boy was handcuffed, interrogated and accused of breaking into homes nearby and stealing Cadillacs.

Both David and Jermond denied the charges and said they were on their way home from a party.

Jermond said when the boys protested their innocence, a female officer commented, "Well, if they ain't going to talk, then we better get the dog again."

Later that night, Donna Ransom discovered a message on her answering machine from the police informing her that her son had been arrested for stealing a vehicle.

"At the station we were told he burglarized a home in the area," said Jermond's mother. "The police were so cavalier about it. It's just so nonchalant. After we'd been there some time and they were releasing David, it became clear my son wasn't there. `Oh, by the way, your son was hurt.'"

Donna Ransom rushed to the Maricopa County Hospital, where the police had taken Jermond.

"He was sitting in the corner. His pants were all bloody. I could see he was terrified. The first thing he said was, `Mom, can I go home? I want to go home.'"

Jermond's mother cannot understand what happened to her son.
"I went back to the spot where this happened," said Donna Ransom. "The area is not overgrown. There isn't a lot of vegetation. This thirteen-year-old boy could not have been hidden. Sending a dog in after a child is just poor judgment."

When the police detained Jermond, they made a point of photographing his jewelry.

"He was wearing two rope chains with a total value of maybe five dollars and an inexpensive earring. That's what kids wear today. He was dressed nicely. His whole thing was skateboarding until a couple of months ago when he discovered girls. He's not in a gang, doesn't get into fights. He's not rowdy. His troublemaking consists of talking too much in class."

The police told Donna Ransom that Jermond fit the description of someone who'd been stealing cars and breaking into homes in the area. The police subsequently arrested others in the case, clearing Ransom and Lopez.

WHEN YOU TALK about blacks who say that they are victims of police brutality, it is often a one-sided discussion. The individual officers refuse to comment, referring all inquiries to the chief's office--where silence is the rule.

In this environment, law enforcement's story is left to departmental reports of arrests, confidential Internal Affairs Bureau files and court records. This paper trail is devoid of human nuance. In the parking lot shooting of Johnny Ray King on January 5 at Vinnie's Nightclub, for example, the official documents do not disclose that the officer who discharged his weapon, Arnie Stallman, is the adopter of a black baby. That is hardly the profile of someone you expect to find trapped in what has become a racially charged incident.

And when you talk about blacks who complain of police brutality, it is also impossible not to consider the reality of police work where officers must keep the peace in crime-ridden neighborhoods. Our ghettos and housing projects have their share of felons, drug dealers, prostitutes, pimps, Bloods, Crips and others locked into the poverty cycle.

Deputy city manager Pat Manion said that all statistics and incidents regarding alleged police brutality must be viewed through this prism to be fair. "Because you have more crime in the inner city and more minorities," said Manion, "the numbers are skewed."

But Ambrose McCree, Fay Wasp, and Jermond Ransom do not fit into this convenient profile.

Although he was staying in a motel in a tough neighborhood, McCree was gainfully employed, wearing his company's uniform and, according to the police, able to produce a room key. His crime was an unwillingness to gladly tolerate a roust.

Wasp was stopped in the white neighborhood in north Phoenix where she lives. She supports her children with her job at American Express.

Jermond Ransom was stopped outside the posh Pointe resort after leaving his friend's party. He was guilty of nothing worse than the typical judgment of a thirteen-year-old.

Far from being hard-core antagonists of the inner city, they all are middle-class blacks. What they also have in common, according to officers' records, is a lack of deference to the police.

"What's your problem?" asked Officer Kobelka of McCree. "Fuck you, this is wrong, I'm not getting out," said Wasp. And thirteen-year-old Jermond Ransom ran.

That is what the police say happened. What the blacks say happened next is that they were attacked.

Asked to comment upon these three unfolding incidents, Reverend Tillman said they underscore the reforms he is trying to introduce.

With the proper oversight of off-duty employment, Officer Kobelka would never have been allowed to moonlight, said Tillman. Wasp's and Jermond Ransom's cases are the kinds that will never make it beyond the Internal Affairs Bureau review of these incidents. Tillman believes that someone other than police officers ought to examine these incidents.

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