portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article reporting united states

prisons & prisoners

Horrors in the Custody of Sandy Springs GA

More nightmares about the police.
 http://auntieracist.tripod.com

Auntie, here are the highlights of my arrest by Sandy Springs, GA police and incarceration in the Roswell, GA Detention Center. Because the horrors go on and on and on, seemingly to no end, I will be terse in my descriptions. Otherwise you would have a whole book to read.

In late September, 1996 I got on a bus and went to Atlanta to find some clothes. It was getting cold and I had no long pants. There are several cheap second hand stores on Roswell Road where I expected to be able to buy some for little price. I took my backpack and a suitcase with wheels, so I would have a way to carry my purchases. Also, because I am diabetic, I have to carry a lot of STUFF with me everywhere I go, to take care of myself.
I went to the stores, found the items I needed and was walking down Roswell Road, toward Publix, to sit down and rest. The side of the road with sidewalk on it was completely blocked by a bunch of contractors and their truck,working on some overhead lines. So I crossed the road ... at great peril, it's Roswell Road ... and continued on the other side. There was some roadwork going on there, and pine straw had been spread on the exposed dirt, presumeably to control erosion. It also concealed some trash. I stepped on a hoop of steel wire, got both feet caught in it and crashed to the ground.
I was born with birth defects in both legs, had surgery on the right one at age 25, and when I fell I skinned both knees and injured the right one. It started swelling immediately.
I called 911 and asked for an officer. I called a total of 3 times and the operator(s) could not figure out where I was at. Not being from there, all I could do was tell her Roswell Road and read off the signs from the shopping center I had just left. I waited nearly an hour and no one showed up.
One of the construction people came across the road and told me I needed to move because he wanted to park his truck where I was sitting. I told him I was waiting for the police.

I waited and waited some more. Finally an officer pulled up. Frank Trammer to be exact. He asked me if I wanted an ambulance. I said no. (I didn't have any money for the fees related to and ambulance ride and an emergency room visit. Having been to emergency rooms before with that leg, I knew they give me a splint and a prescription that I couldn't fill because I had no money. Then I would be released, alone and lame, to an unknown location on the streets of a city that I didn't know my way around. I wanted him to make a report. I was worried about some serious damage to the leg and in all honesty, if it caused more permanent damage I would in fact have tried to sue the city.
He refused to make a report. He did not look at the wounds on my legs. He did not ask me any details about what happened or where I was from. He did not offer to direct me to a shelter where I might find some help. He did not even ask me my name. And he told me to leave. I got up to go, but my leg hurt so I sat back down, took some naproxen sodium and planned to wait for it to start working before I got up and had to walk on the leg. He asked my why was I still there and again told me to leave. Not nicely, either. I called him a son of a bitch.
Again he told me to leave. Again I got up and started to walk away. Then I decided that I would write a letter to the city manager about both the site and his officer. I walked back to him to get his name. He had neither a name tag nor a badge number. Only a generic badge that anybody can buy from a police catalog. I asked him his name. He said get away from me or I'll arrest you. I asked him again for his name and he arrested me.
At the Roswell Detention center he came in to fill out his share of the papers for my arrest. I had to sign a lot of papers, but my glasses were in my bags, which were in the trunk of his car. I asked him to get my glasses so I could see the papers. He said no.
I told the clerk my leg was injured and needed care. Trammer said "just a little scrape" even though he had not looked at it nor asked any questions about it. I was put into a holding cell, with a public toilet in it and a narrow wooden bench along two walls. I asked for soap and wash cloth so I could wash the wounds. Because I am diabetic, I am subject to infections. I was locked up in a small room with a public toilet in it, with no soap for my self, or any of the other prisoners who came and went, to wash their hands.
That was about 11 a.m. In a couple of hours I lay down on the bare floor, because there was no place else to lie down and my leg was hurting and swollen. About 10 p.m. the night shift folk carried me to Northside hospital emergency room. The doctor cleaned up the wounds, gave me an insulin shot, an extra packet of triple antibiotic, prescriptions for diabetes and blood pressure medicines, instructions for diet, and back I went to the holding cell with the public toilet and no soap. I lay down on the floor. The night shift guy got me a blanket.
I stayed in the holding cell with the public toilet and no soap, lying on the floor, til 6 or seven o'clock the next night. Then the jail crew took me out, gave me a shower and clean orange suit and put me in a cell.
About 10 pm two of my sons arrived, driving well over a hundred miles, to get me out.. Trammer had taken all my bags to the Sandy Springs police office, at their city hall, and it was closed. By a stroke of luck I had my wallet in my pocked when I was arrested, so I had my house key. But my cell phone, medicines, glasses, check book and all those clothes I had bought for the cold weather were in the bags.
I had to wait until the following Friday to go back to Sandy Springs to get my stuff.
Here is what I have to do to get there. I get up at 4:30 in the morning, walk for an hour and a half to the commuter bus stop, ride about 50 minutes to 5 points station in Atlanta, take the train to North Springs, then the bus to Sandy Springs. I got there around 9 or 9:30 a.m.
The clerk at the front desk wanted to know what my case number was. I didn't know. I didn't bring the citation with me. I thought my name and birth date and date of arrest would be sufficient. Not so. I almost broke down, and told the lady everything I needed was in the bags, blah blah blah. Then she, a lowly clerk, who sat by the font door answering the phone and greeting visitors, took pity on me and called the jail to get the case number so she could get my things for me.
I made a complaint against the officer. My court date ... the charge was disorderly conduct ... was postponed until the complaint was investigated. The investigator, Sgt. Tanya Smith, sustained a charge of misconduct against Trammer. A second charge of violation of civil rights neither proven nor disproven.
In February I went to court. Again, up at 4:30, walk an hour and a half, bus to Atlanta, train to North Springs, bus to Sandy Springs. I got there about 10:30. I was told to be there at 3. I had to kill time on a cold, windy February day. 3 o'clock came and went. 4 o'clock came and went. 5 o'clock. At 6 I was still waiting in the courtroom at the same time the last commuter bus was leaving Atlanta. That meant I would be stranded on the streets all night til the commuter buses started running in the morning.
During the proceedings I was informed that misdemeanor cases could not have a jury trial. The prosecutor told me that because I would not have a jury trial I would have to go to the clerk and get a form and sign it . The form said that I understood that because I had requested a non-jury trial I understood that I forfeited the following rights: enter here a whole list of rights I forfeit for a non-jury trial. I said I did not request a non-jury trial, you told me I couldn't have one. She said you have to sign the paper.
I told her I would need to apply for a lawyer. She told me I couldn't have a lawyer because it was a misdemeanor charge. At this point I started to melt down. The leg was still troubling me. Low blood sugar. High blood pressure. Total exhaustion.
I began to sob. The clerk said I'm sending you to talk to the judge. The judge was sitting in front of the same room, so I'm sure he heard most of what went on.
When the judge called me, I showed him my letter from Sgt. Smith informing me of the misconduct charge, told him the things the clerk had told me and said I needed a lawyer. If recall correctly the judge's name was Jim Anderson. He looked to be the same guy who was the magistrate when I was in the detention center. He had read the incident report, then he had looked up at me and said, I don't get it, I'm not seeing the same person sitting in front of my as I see in this report. And he set a bond low enough for my sons to come get me. When he read that letter in court he hand picked a lawyer for me and shouted it out to the clerk to make sure I got that lawyer.
When I talked to the lawyer on the phone I told him I wanted a jury trial, but the prosecutor and the clerk told me I couldn't have one. He said let's see if they tell ME that. I mailed him a copy of the letter from Sgt. Smith, a couple other documents and waited for court.
On court day, again, 4:30 a.m. , walking, bus, train, bus, waiting for hours. I packed my backpack and wheelie bag, fully expecting to be on the streets again.
I spoke to the lawyer in the hallway as court convened. Then went in to speak to the prosecutor, came out and told me the case would be dismissed.
All that I went through mainly because I fell down and hurt myself.

Officer Trammer blew off his job, falsified his paperwork and set me up at the jail for abuse. To my knowledge he got nothing. Within a month he was an investigator instead of a patrol officer.

The dirty joke of it all is that Sandy Springs had just become a city and started a brand new police department about 10 weeks before my arrest. They offered good pay and benefits, compared to other departments, hoping to attract a high quality of officers. What a shame.

NOTE: Since then I have gained more information about Atlanta and this and that. I believe this to be part of what went wrong:

There is a homeless woman that I met later and became well acquainted with. She has serious mental problems. She knew Trammer. According to her she was from Sandy Springs and hung out there a lot. Trammer had run her off several times and about 3 weeks before my arrest he had arrested her because she was again camping in the Sandy Springs park. She bore a notable physical resemblance to me.

Furthermore there have been serious problems with the Fulton County 911. People have died even.

It is my theory that when Trammer arrived he was not answering my call for assistance, he was answering a complaint from the contractors that some crazy homeless lady was blocking their work. Upon his arrival he mistook me for the homeless woman that he had already encountered several times.
After that it was Trammer's sorry work that finished out the scenario. He did not check my i.d. until he had already arrested me and took me to the detention center. Checking my i.d., asking 2 or 3 simple questions and taking even a brief look at my bloody, swelling knees would have told him that the situation was not what he thought.
Unfortunately, he didn't feel like working that da

homepage: homepage: http://auntieracist.tripod.com