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THE POLICE STRANGLEHOLD ON ED MALLET'S FIANCEE

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Even with the media quickly forgiving the fatality as an unfortunate accident, the police department was on the defensive. And then Mallet's fiancee began picketing in front of police headquarters.

Charita Curry feels that her activism on behalf of her fiancee's memory has cost her family an enormous price. Her mother agrees.

On September 24, not quite one month after Ed Mallet died in a carotid-artery neck hold, Connie Curry saw her youngest child, Sid, being choked by a Phoenix cop. The horrified mother ran to the site of the confrontation, just a few short yards from her front door, and pleaded with her son: "I told him, I begged him, 'Please, baby, don't struggle. I can get you out of jail. Don't make me get you out of the morgue.'"

Sid Curry was the one who drove his sister Charita to the dentist's office. On top of the roust at the dental office, he'd been there when the cops made his family home a target. Now it was his turn.

In their report, officers Santiago Maldonado and Harry Silbert claim that Sid yelled something at them when they drove past the young black at about 10 p.m. on the 24th. When they turned the patrol car around, they observed the young man holding a can of beer. At 20, Sid is almost old enough to drink, but not quite. So the officers arrested him.

Sid is up-front about the fact that he resisted arrest, though, weighing just 120 pounds, his resistance was more emotional than effective.

"I told them, 'I am not going to jail,'" recalled Sid. "`My mother's on her way. Talk to her.'" Dusty Curry said his brother was already handcuffed, yet the police continued to apply a choke hold. Sid claims he did not have a can of beer in his hand when the police arrived. He cites numerous pieces of evidence in his defense. It would appear that Sid, whom the cops identify as a West Side Crip, is on his way to becoming a jailhouse lawyer; the police did find booze in his blood alcohol level once he was taken downtown.

But the point is this: You go to any street corner near the campus of Arizona State University in Tempe and you'll find 20-year-olds drinking beer. The difference is that those people will be white, 20-year-old college students, and they won't end up in jail.

When you arrest Sid Curry on such a petty infraction, when you claim you only stopped because some kid in South Phoenix yelled at you, when you arrest him after his family has been the target of police harassment, when his sister has complained publicly about her fiancee's death and the harassment, when all of this has happened and you bust him anyway--what are we supposed to think?

I can tell you what one of Charita's little children thought.
Charita's youngest daughter, the one whose dental appointment was broken up by the police, the one who considered Ed Mallet her dad, started screaming when she saw a policeman's arm around Sid's neck.

Connie, the little girl's grandmother, remembers the child's outburst. "She wanted to know if they were going to kill her uncle like they killed her father."

Five days after Sid's arrest, his friend Carl DeWayne Scott pulled his car away from the curb in front of the Curry residence. Carl himself had only just been released from jail following his bust at the dental office on an outstanding traffic offense. "Right away I seen the cops pull in behind me. They could have pulled me over right then, where there were people. But they didn't. They waited 'til we turned the corner, and there was just empty fields. Nothing, nobody around. That's when they wanted me to stop, where no one could see what they doin'.

"I said, 'No way,' not after everything [that's] been happening. I wouldn't stop. I drove straight to my grandmother's house. They told my grandmother that if I didn't come out, they were going to bring a 'Reign of Terror' on her house."

When Carl emerged, he was slapped with 15 citations, but he says none of them relates to why the cops were following him in the first place.

"It's all stuff that happened when I ran."
Because his pockets are stuffed with 15 citations, it is difficult for Carl DeWayne Scott to understand how lucky he is. He told me his street smarts made him run from the cops--as if any contraband or illegal act or paranoia is worth dying over. If you run from the police, or you run your mouth once you've been pulled over, you are automatically wrong, and you are inviting disaster--witness Rodney King and Ed Mallet.

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Michael Lacey
Contact: Michael Lacey