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Paperwork and Lies: The Needless Cruelty of the Hall County Sheriff's Office Toward Innocent People

By J. Freeman on 12/27/2017 03:05:41

When we last left off, I was telling the story of how I was kidnapped, sexually abused, and subjected to sleep-deprivation torture (among other abuses) at the Hall County Detention Center. Today's story covers the second day of my kidnapping (August 4th, 2014). For those who are just turning in, I had been "arrested" for being a Christian political activist, under the flimsy excuse that I had disrupted a church service (I hadn't). The arrest was conducted under an invalid warrant, which means I had a legal right to use deadly force to escape. We should also note that anyone, no matter what he is arrested for, is to be presumed innocent. There is no reason for the police to do any mistreatment to an innocent man. In my case particularly, I was ultimately found to be innocent of any crime, which means that any mistreatment of me was particularly unacceptable.

When I awoke on August 4th, I knocked on the door and said I was ready to sign paperwork, as had been arranged between myself and one of the kidnappers the night before. The kidnappers who had made a deal with me were gone though. They were replaced by a blonde-haired, blue-eyed kid who looked not a day over 18. I can't remember his name. Mc something. I call him McC.

He came up to the window.

“Oh, you want to sign paperwork huh?” He said with a smirk, “Well I’m not going to let you.”

“You don’t understand.” I said, “The officer who was here last night said I could sign papers in the morning.”

“Too bad." he said with his stupid grin. "It doesn’t really matter anyway. I’ll let you sign it before you go to your hearing at 11:00.”

I didn't know it at the time, but you will recall if you've been reading along that my wife had been told that I was refusing to sign paperwork in protest. It isn't true. I never once refused to sign any paperwork. None had been given to me.

I was certain to tell McC, as I had been telling everyone else, that I was being persecuted for my faith and that I should be released. He didn't care.

At 10:00 McC came back and took me out of the box. For the first time – after about 16 hours of false imprisonment – I was allowed to sign booking paperwork.

Then I was returned to the cell to await my first appearance. And a first appearance was a big deal. It would be my opportunity to stand in front of a judge and make bail. It would mean I was within a few hours of going home.

I waited, and waited, and waited.

Finally I banged on the door and asked McC why I wasn’t going to my first appearance.

“You’re not on the list.” He said.

“Why not?” I asked.

McC pretended that he couldn’t hear me, just to be an ass.

“I said ‘Why not?’!” I shouted.

“Oh, I don’t know.” Said the Nazi. I’ll get in touch with my supervisor and find out.

No one ever came back with a reason.

An hour later I banged on the door again. This time a Hispanic guy who must also have been a teenager came to the door. His name was Bustamente. The conversation with him was almost exactly the same. He even made an obvious show of being hard of hearing to mock me. He said the phantom supervisor was busy, but that he’d go get an answer for me. He never came back.

I'm not a lawyer, and I don't fully know the law here, but it seems to me that intentionally holding a person and refusing to allow him to go before a judge for first appearance is irregular at best, and as bad as the sexual assault and the other abuses were, the lies I was being told were much worse. I had already been threatened with indefinite detention, and now I was concerned that they might actually do it. If I was going to be continually refused a hearing for no reason and denied a call out, how was anyone even supposed to know I was down there?

Some time passed, evidently until an officer shift-change. I was trying to sleep on the “bed” and having a hard time of it. The longer I was there the more I felt sick and exhausted.

At about 6:00 that evening I heard an officer, an excessively fat older man talking outside my bathroom/cell to a woman. She was another fat thing with hair dyed a phony-looking red. He called her Lieutenant.

“His name is Freeman.” Said Fatty. “He calls himself that because he’s one o’ them sovereign citizens. He’s an extremist – one o’ them that don’t like the government.”

Fatty was obviously of less than average intelligence.

He was attempting to equate me with the Montana Free Men, a group that, some 18 years prior, was involved in anti-government activities in, surprise surprise, Montana. Not Georgia. They had (I am told) all changed their last names to Freeman – which also happens to be the given name of thousands of people in Georgia – particularly the descendants of English landowners or former slaves. I should mention that at the time when the "Free Men" were engaged in their activities, I was 11 years old and thousands of miles away.

“What’s he in for?” asked Lieutenant.

“Oh he’s been causing trouble, stalking the Sheriff. Now he’s refusing to sign his paperwork.”

At this point, you should probably be aware that the Supreme Court has ruled that police officers can be denied employment for scoring too high on intelligence tests. Intelligent people, the state has determined, are less capable of mindlessly following orders, and are more likely to quit working with the police, costing the state additional money to train replacements.

So that helps us understand Fatty, who obviously doesn’t know the difference between “stalking” and scheduling a meeting to petition an elected official. And he also doesn’t get the difference between Christian pacifism and the sovereign citizen movement (which, incidentally, police tend to equate with domestic terrorism - which is also pretty inaccurate).

I suppose we can’t all be philosophers. Then again, I thought the government wasn’t supposed to kidnap and torture people for their political philosophies anyway.

In any case, Fatty had made a pretty obvious error as a state kidnapper. Even if he couldn't accurately name my philosophy, he did know what the rumor was. He also knew that I'd had a meeting with Sheriff Couch and that Couch didn’t like it.

Now why did an officer in the booking area of the jail know anything about a meeting between me and the Sheriff or anything about my supposed political leanings? The answer is obvious. There’s no way he could have known those things unless my kidnapping had been coordinated by Sheriff Gerald Couch himself, or someone within his close circle.

So not only was this persecution against me for performing my Christian duties as a minister – that was just an excuse (and an extremely poor one) to kidnap me because of my political interactions with the Sheriff.

I can’t even come up with a more obvious example of someone abusing their office than that. And here stood Fatty, openly admitting it three feet in front of my cell. Of course, I suppose it really isn't such a big error. Seeing that my testimony about it is worth squat (because "criminals" love to lie, you know), that me saying what he said is "hearsay," that the Hall County Sheriff's Office would ultimately get away with withholding all evidence of the events of my imprisonment, and that a judge would ultimately rule that the police are above the law and never even allow any testimony to be entered in the matter, I suppose Fatty was right in assuming that he could just say whatever he wanted.

He came into the cell.

“I heard what you were saying out there.” I said. “I’m not a sovereign citizen. I’m a Christian. And I’m not a member of the Free Men. Freeman is my born, given name. As for stalking the Sheriff, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

He looked a little surprised.

“Okay, well I just met you so I don’t know anything about you.” He replied.

He went on to tell me that I needed to sign my paperwork.

“I’ve already signed it.” I said. “I’ve complied. I signed everything they gave me.”

“Well you missed three pages then.” Said Fatty.

“Then I’ll sign them.” I said, “If they weren’t signed before, it’s only because they failed to give them to me. But before I sign anything I want a guarantee that I’m going to get to make a phone call.”

“Alright.” He said. “We’ll get you a phone call.”

He brought me out of the box to the desk. He asked the Lieutenant if I could make a phone call. She said I could, and also assured me that I could speak with a lawyer shortly.

I stood at the desk for a minute. No one came. Fatty marched me back to the cell.

“They aren’t ready for you yet.” He said. “We’ll bring you out for your phone call in a minute.”

Having been told that I would finally get a phone call (after more than 24 hours) I decided to break my fast. I was only able to eat very little, because I was definitely feeling sick.

No one ever came to give me a phone call.

Several hours later I banged on the door. Lieutenant made eye-contact with me and motioned with her finger “one-minute”. She never came back.

A while later I banged on the door of the cell. An officer came to the door. I asked for my phone call and to speak with a lawyer. He pretended he couldn’t hear me.

I wavered in and out of consciousness throughout the night. The lights stayed on. The room stayed cold. The doors kept slamming. At some point I heard a young woman crying.

“Please!” she kept screaming through her sobs, “Please stop! Why are you doing this to me!? Why are you doing this to me!?”

I can only imagine what they were doing.

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