I’d just about had it with this guy. I can understand the rough treatment from the cops who arrested me. If they truly thought I’d done an armed robbery, then they must have thought I was armed. Okay, “armed and dangerous,” I get that. But this guy? I was pretty sure this guy was a loser. He was much older than the cops I saw on the street, and I was betting that he was “disabled,” or not worth a crap at being a policeman. So there he was, working the weekend at the jail, and being a total jerk while he was doing it.
He just isn’t letting up on me. It was pretty easy to see that there wasn’t much chemistry between him and the guy checking me in. He even sort of spoke up for me, when he told the other guy that I gave them no problem at all, when I was taken into custody. It didn’t have any impact though. The guy was a real jerk.
The guy I came in with took his handcuffs off of me and replaced them with another pair. The guy behind the counter pushed a button and my guy walked me into a connecting room, and told me to have a seat. He also said I'd be processed and then someone would take me upstairs. So I sat and waited for a while. I heard the jerk talking to a couple of other people, he was telling them that I was being uncooperative, and that I had robbed a liquor store at gunpoint the night before. He also told them I had been giving him and the officer who brought me in, a hard time.
Before I really even time to get upset about what I'd heard, two cops burst through the door and told me to get on my feet. One of them spun me around and searched me yet again. And he didn’t do it very gently. I asked them if they treated all their guests this way. They just looked at each other and laughed. I told them they didn’t have to treat me this way, because this whole thing was a big mistake, I didn’t do anything. They must have found this particularly funny, because they laughed even louder.
After they were satisfied that I didn’t have any weapons, and wasn’t smuggling drugs into the jail, they unlocked a different door and shoved me through it. They not so gently walked me over to an elevator. Once we were in, one of them pushed the button for either the fourth or fifth floor. Just about the time the door closed, one of them sucker punched me, really hard in the stomach. I wasn't ready for it at all and it knocked the wind out of me. Before I could get my breath back, several more punches and kicks were laid on me in rapid succession.
They managed to kick the shit out of me, stand me back up, and have me all bright and shiny by the time we got to our floor. Assholes! I was livid, maybe more than ever before, but I knew I couldn’t say a word at this point. I had no control over anything. All I had to do was keep my mouth shut and of course, I didn't.
We exited the elevator and they threw me into what I assumed was the drunk tank. I say that, because the guys that were already in there looked, and stunk like hell. There was vomit on the floor, and the benches were all taken up by sleeping drunks, or speed freaks, who were just sitting there bouncing around.
Not only was I extremely angry, I was also pretty embarrassed. I had just realized that I was wearing my baseball uniform, and couldn’t have looked more out of place in the drunk tank, than if I was having tea with the Queen of England.
I sat and waited for a long time. The drunks were slowly being released as they sobered up. At this point I wanted one of two things, either get me out of here, or get me to a cell. About two hours later, a cop in a suit came and got me. He took me to a small room that had only a table and a few chairs in it. One of the walls had a large mirror on it. I figured this was where they were going to start grilling me about the “armed robbery.” There was probably a camera on the other side of the mirror recording us.
“I’ve got good news and bad news, which do you want to first?” the detective asked me.
“Do I get to make a phone call?”
“You haven’t been charged with anything yet”
“That’s because I haven’t done anything, and you won’t be able to prove that I did!”
“Yes, you have done something! Now what do you want first, good news or bad?”
“The good news first” I said.
“We now know that you aren’t who we thought you were.”
“I told them that from the beginning.”
“They didn’t know it at the time. Were they just supposed to take your word for it and let you go?"
“So what about the cut on my head from where they shoved me in the cop car?”
“I’m sure that was an accident.”
“I’m sure it wasn’t! The guy rammed me into the fucking door frame on purpose!” Obviously, this guy was just as big of an asshole as the others.
“Which officer was it?”
“I have no idea, they were behind me! What about the two assholes who beat the shit out of me in the elevator?”
“Did you get their names?”
“No I didn’t get their names, but there right here in this building, right now!”
“I don’t think anything like that took place Mr. Tillett.”
“It did take place, are you going to do anything about it?”
“I promise you that I’ll look into it. Now do you want the bad news?”
“Sure you will” I said, wondering just how many people get the hell beat out of them in that elevator.
“Like I said, we made a mistake about the armed robbery, but it seems that you have an outstanding warrant.”
“Yes, it’s for a citation you received for expired tags last year.” He said while looking at a sheet of paper he was holding.
“Is it for a VW bus?”
“Yes, it is.”
“I don’t even own that thing anymore, it was stolen about six months ago, and I never got a ticket on it anyay.”
“I’m sorry that you haven’t had a good morning, it’s only going to cost you 65 dollars to get out of here. Do you have it?”
“No I don’t!”
“If you want to make a call, I’ll go get a phone for you.”
I called the bar that sponsored my softball team, and asked if anybody there could come and pay the fee. My friend Rich arrived in about a half an hour, and I was free. To add insult to injury, the next day I had to pay a substantial amount of money to get my car out of impound.
I might have got the guys who beat me up in the elevator in trouble, or even fired, but the more I told my story to people, the more I heard that the elevator at the jail was famous for beatings, and that I’d be wasting my time.
Just this minute, I looked up “Long Beach Police Department Elevator Beatings” on Google. The query got a bunch of hits. Apparently, what people told me back in 1975 was very true! There was nothing recent though. I guess things were different back in the old days!
I don’t have a problem with cops. I like a strong police presence. Of course I’ve changed my ways since those days. But I still have a big problem with people who abuse their power, no matter where that power might lie.
I suppose if I had kept my big mouth shut, I would have had a normal elevator ride that morning.