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The Blue Wall of Silence
Valentine’s Day Arrest
The kids were excited about their upcoming valentine’s parties in school. They went to school and had their valentine’s cards and candy to hand out. Rob called and left me a message on my voicemail that said “Happy Valentine’s Day. It’s about 1:30 and I’m headed out for Benson Park to toss some bullets around with Jacob. I’ll be there to pick you up at 6:00 O’clock.”
I got home from school just before the kids walked in from school. I had to still get dinner prepared before I went out to dinner with Robert. The kids came home with candy, cupcakes and valentines from their school parties. They were all hyper and silly from all of the sugar they consumed. By the time I had heard about their day, showered, called a sitter and got dressed it was 6:00 p.m. Robert arrived.
“Why aren’t you ready?” He asked in frustration.
“I still have to make the kids something to eat. I don’t want to have to leave that for the sitter.”
I was surprised at his response “I am going to Sally’s to have a couple of beers while you’re getting ready.” Sally’s was the corner bar a block away from my street. I thought, gee, he could have helped me. To save time I went up to the local International Market Place to grab some already prepared food from their Gourmet express. I bought their favorite lemon breaded chicken, mashed potatoes and green beans. Robert returned at 7:30pm.
“Okay, I’m ready. Where are we going?” I asked.
“To a restaurant in downtown Mt. Clemens” he answered.
“Which one?” I asked.
“It’s a surprise” he answered. I smiled.
We arrived at the restaurant and the hostess informed us that it would be about an hour and a half wait, and with a lack of patience Robert said, “Let’s go.”
“Where are we going?” I asked.
“If you would have been ready on time then we would have gotten a seat” he argued.
I fired back “If you would have made reservations then we would have gotten a seat.” He gave me the intimidating stare he would give when he thought I was out of line.
He stopped at a party store on the way to the next restaurant. He picked up a six pack of Budweiser. He drank it on the way. I was with a cop driving without a seat belt, drinking while driving with open intoxicants, and giving me instructions on how to drink and drive. He handed me a beer and he told me “Never put the bottle up to your lips at an intersection or with congested traffic.” I took a sip when he took a sip. I drank it along with him. Looking back, I don’t know why I went along with it. I just did.
“I could go for some soul food” he said.
“Soul food tonight? Where can you get soul food around here?” I asked.
“What kind of question is that? We live near Detroit, they have some decent soul food restaurants down there” he replied.
“It’s already almost 8:00” I said with frustration. He ignored what I said and kept driving. He drank most of the beers in the six-pack. He got off at an exit just before we hit Detroit. We ended up in Hudson Township Park, at the border of Detroit at a restaurant called Tom’s Oyster Bar. There was a much shorter wait, probably because of the time; it was almost 8:30pm. There was a seat at the bar, so we ordered a couple of beers and waited for our table. Robert didn’t mind waiting as long as he could drink, and had somewhere to sit. After forty-five-minutes our table was called. After we took our seats the waitress asked if we wanted anything to drink.
“Wow, the beers really filled me up, and I want to save room for dinner. I hadn’t eaten all day, so I think I’ll pass on the drinks” I told the waitress.
“Have something lighter than beer” Robert requested.
“Like what? Something light, pink, and looks like a light pool side drink?” I asked teasingly.
The waitress laughed and said, “Well there are several drinks like that.”
Rob shook his head and said, “She doesn’t have too much experience with drinking, fix her a Cosmo.” The waitress and he agreed that a cosmopolitan would be perfect for me. I told her to make it weak. “I’ll have an Irish Car Bomb” Robert ordered.
She returned with our drinks. The cosmopolitan was in a pretty fancy glass. It had a splash of cranberry juice in it to give it that pretty pink that I requested. I laughed when I saw it.
“It’s so pretty! It looks good.” I sipped it, it seemed weak. I did not taste too much liquor. I liked it.
When the waitress came back we ordered another Cosmo for me, and Robert ordered an Irish car bomb. His mood always changed when he drank those. He always slammed Irish car bombs in one gulp. They were Guinness beer, and a shot of Irish whiskey. He had three in a matter of 20 minutes.
After my second drink, I was feeling buzzed. “No more for me” I insisted. I already had a couple of beers before this. I already had a bad experience at Dennis’s house from mixing drinks.
Rob was getting obnoxious. He insisted I have another. “I take you out for a nice evening and you can’t have a couple drinks for me? It’s Valentine’s Day. You seemed tense today and a couple drinks will help you relax. Waitress! Another round please” he requested. The Irish Car Bombs were setting in.
An African American couple was sitting next to us and Robert started a conversation with them. Robert was always more social when he was drinking, and he said to them “You know, I was just saying how I wanted to have soul food tonight.”
The couple looked at each other as if they were confused and offended, so I jumped in and said “Hi my name is Victoria, and this is Robert. What a lovely night. Have you been waiting long?”
The female at the table introduced themselves “Ilene and this is Raymond.”
“Raymond that is Robert’s middle name, and that’s what they call Robert at the department. They call him Ray because there are so many Roberts, and Bob’s at the department that they all get confused” I explained.
“Department?” Raymond asked.
“Yes, he is a police officer” I answered.
“Raymond is a sergeant in the army” Ilene informed. Now we all had something in common, and the awkward moment ceased.
“Robert is also a sergeant at the police department” I explained.
The men began to talk. We learned that Ilene was a postal worker, all three of them were government employees, and they discussed the politics around government. They learned that I was a nursing student and Raymond said to me “I recruit medical professionals. When do you graduate?”
It was obvious that Robert did not like the comment made by the Army recruiter. Before I answered him, Robert leaned over and whispered in my ear and said “Her outfit really turns me on. I told you I wanted soul food tonight. Dam she looks good.”
Awkwardly I tried to ignore Robert, and I answered Raymond. “I will be graduating in less than a year. What do you recruit for, to join the army?” I inquired.
“Yes, but it’s not like you go overseas or are deployed. You can stay right here in your own town working in the VA hospitals” he informed.
“Hmm, sounds interesting. I have four children so deploying wouldn’t be an option for me. But it is something I will think about.” I excused myself to go to the bathroom.
While I was washing my hands, a waitress entered the bathroom, and she commented on my breasts. I was taken aback by the unexpected comment. “Are those real?” She pointed to my breasts.
“Yes” I answered.
“I wish mine looked like that” she said.
“People put too much emphasis on breasts. I look at them as being there to feed our babies” I commented back. She laughed.
“Nice talking to you, have fun tonight” she said.
“Thanks. You too” I offered, and then I put on a layer of lipstick and went back to our table. When I returned to our table Robert immediately said to me “What took you so long?”
“What do you mean? I wasn’t gone that long” I answered.
“Whoring around again, trying to get another guys number?” he accused.
I got defensive and said “No, I was talking to the waitress in the bathroom.”
“Let me see your cell phone” he insisted. I gave it to him. There were no numbers on it. He was checking to see if I called someone else.
Raymond, the Army sergeant interrupted and gave Robert his card since he was sitting closest to him and said, “Give this to Victoria, when she graduates, if she is interested, I can recruit her.”
I asked, “Does it pay RN wages?”
“Yes, and more” he replied.
I graciously accepted by saying “Thank you. I will definitely give it some thought.”
Robert handed me the card, and whispered in my ear “What, do you like black dick now you whore?”
I told him quietly “This is not the place Robert. You are embarrassing us.” What was I thinking?
It was never the place to berate someone to begin with; but when you’re the victim of abuse, you rarely think that way. Victims of abuse think about how to please the batterer, and often blame themselves. They often look inward to see what it is that they are doing wrong, rather than placing the blame where it belongs, on the batterer. Victims are conditioned to keep everything a secret, and often make excuses for the abuser. This is a typical traumatic bond between victim and batterer.
Rob kept commenting on Ilene’s outfit. “Damn she looks good in that white jumpsuit, you should get one of those.”
“It is pretty” I agreed. I started to feel insecure for a moment not because he liked her outfit, but because he was throwing it in my face over and over, as if he wanted me to get jealous. I’m sure that was his intention. Then I saw a man I hadn’t seen in almost twenty years. He came over to our table and it was clear that he was drunk.
“Vicky? Vicky from Top Fitness Clubs of America?” he asked.
“Yes, oh my Gosh, Danny, how are you?” I asked. I couldn’t remember his last name. His parents owned the fitness center that I worked at when I was eighteen.
“What have you been up to the past, what...fifteen years? The last I heard you were in Las Vegas after you attended the aerobics convention. Why didn’t you return to Top Fitness?” Before I could answer he said, “I have to admit, I was so in love with you” he confessed.
I quickly looked over at Robert and his face was stone cold. I said, “Danny this is Robert.” Danny extended his hand to shake Rob’s hand, but Robert did not extend his. Danny felt uncomfortable and he retracted his hand back and into his pockets. Danny quickly got the message that he was intruding on our dinner. I didn’t think so, but Robert didn’t like it. Roberts attempt to make me feel insecure just backfired on him. Danny excused himself and said “Okay, I’ll let you guys enjoy your dinner, nice to meet you.” Rob did not say a word to him, but he did have something to say to me.
“I see you’re whorin around as usual. Is he the lucky guy you were talking to while you were gone so long to the bathroom?” he insulted.
“Stop it! I just saw him when he came up to the table. Robert please, let’s enjoy the night” I requested.
The waitress came by and asked how we were doing on our drinks. “We’ll take another round and another round for the lovely couple over here” Robert ordered. He bought a round for the new couple we just met. I knew I was in trouble tonight by his actions. I figured that if I did not piss him off and if I submitted to him everything will be fine.
“No, I’m fine, I really don’t want anymore” I told the waitress.
“Dam it! It’s Valentine’s Day, celebrate!” Robert obnoxiously shouted. Raymond and Ilene could see my discomfort with his behavior.
“Okay, just one more” I agreed. We sipped our drinks and Robert and Raymond talked about the Military and police work. Ilene and I talked about our jobs and families. It was getting late, we finished our drinks and the waitress brought over our bill. It was $120.00. Robert put the cash in the billfold and we left.
As we were walking to the car I asked him “Are you okay to drive?”
“You know better than to ask me that. Do you think I’d get behind the wheel if I wasn’t?” he defiantly asked. I didn’t answer him. We got into his truck and I turned on Jazz station thinking it would please him and keep him from going off on me. We didn’t say much all the way home. We listened to the love songs on the radio, but I could feel tension in the air. Our plan was to go to my house after dinner; however, Robert said he wanted me all to himself tonight. My brother was home from his Valentine’s date, my sitter needed to be driven home so we decided to pick up my van, and I would drive my sitter home on the way back to Rob’s house.
When we got back to my house the kids were sleeping. I gave them all a kiss and told my brother that I would be back early in the morning. I followed Robert to his house, but first we would drop off my sitter. I paid her in the driveway of her home. I thanked her and off we went to Robert’s house.
We arrived at Rob’s house. He was silent until we entered the house. It was then he let loose. I wasn’t all the way in the door before he pushed me in and I fell on the floor. I began to get up, but somehow, he put both of my hands behind my back and pulled them upwards. I was on my knees. He told me “If you ever disrespect me again I will kill you.”
“I did not disrespect you Robert. You were the one who disrespected and belittled me” I yelled back.
He pulled my arms up higher and yelled “You just don’t know how to listen! You will learn to listen to me bitch.”
“Let go of my arms you’re hurting me!” I cried out. The position he had me in caused excruciating pain. It felt like my shoulder muscles or tendons were tearing. He pulled my arms upwards, and my face was towards the floor as if I were in a physical police restraint.
“I should have known you were trash when the guys at the department talked about you like locker room trash. I should have known you were trouble. You want to fuck that black guy, don’t you? Are you going to call him when you get home?” he questioned with suspiciousness.
I lost my balance as he was leaning over me shouting. I fell to the floor on my face, and then he let go of my arms.
Still on the floor, I rolled over to get up, and I said in my defense “Don’t even go there, you handed me the card that he gave you Robert.”
He swiftly came towards me, pinning me down by my arms, saying “What do I have to do to get you to listen to me? I can’t believe I fell for a whore! What are we going to do Vicky?” I didn’t know how to respond. I wasn’t sure what answer he was looking for.
“Get off me, you’re hurting me” I yelled back. He got up off me, and I sat up. As we both caught our breath I said “Please Robert, its Valentine’s Day. Let’s try to salvage what’s left of the night.” But that didn’t seem to snap him out of his rage. I put a lot thought into this night. I even bought pretty lingerie that I had under my outfit, and one of those fake jewel tattoos for below my belly button.
“You liked that didn’t you?” he asked.
“Liked what Robert?” I asked with confusion.
“Big black Sergeant gave you his card. Did you think I didn’t see that tactic?” he asked.
“What are you talking about?” I wondered.
“He gave you that card hoping you’d call him. He wants to get into your pants” he insulted.
“Do you want his card Robert? I asked.
“I want you to leave. I am not going to spend Valentine’s Day with a whore” he verbally assaulted.
I was not going to put up with one more ounce of abuse from him, and I shouted back “I had enough of your insults and abuse for the night, Actually forever! Don’t call me anymore!” It felt good to finally stand up for myself after years of abuse. The only problem was It didn’t last long, he always knew how to take control of the situation.
I began to walk out the door when he said, “If you leave this house you’ll find yourself locked up.”
I laughed at him and said “Oh, really? You tell me to leave, then you tell me if I leave I will find myself locked up, you’re going to use your police tactics on me, I don’t think so.” I began to reach for the handle of the door knob as he pulled my coat from behind.
“I mean it, you leave this house you will find yourself locked up” he threatened.
I didn’t care anymore. I wasn’t going to stand for this anymore. For a moment, I remembered who I was and what I stood for. My sense of fight came back. Maybe it was the liquid courage. He was no longer going to do this to me. I opened the main door to leave. He grabbed me, and he threw me up against the storm door. He threw me so hard it shattered the door.
“Now look what you did, you stupid bitch you’re ruining my property!” he shouted. I was trembling, confused, and shocked by the shattered glass that lay on the door step. He slammed his door, and I quickly walked to my mini-van. Then I heard his door open. I looked behind me, he stood in his doorway, and he said, “You’re making a big mistake.”
I continued walking. He had his cordless phone in his hand. It appeared he was dialing a number. I turned around and wondered what he was doing. Was he calling the police? Was he going to blame the broken door on me? Was he going to have me stopped while I was driving? Was he going to follow through with his threat to have me locked up? But for what? I walked back towards the door where he was standing. “Please let’s talk about this” I attempted to console.
“Too late, you should have listened to me. I already called the cops” he said so matter of fact.
“For what? Why are you doing this?” I asked.
“I’m not going to argue with you, you just don’t listen. You should have listened to me” he slighted.
I walked to my car and I sat in my car not knowing what to do. I had so many emotions going through my mind. Was he going to have me pulled over if I drove away? I didn’t know if he would actually do that, but I couldn’t take the chance. Should I leave? Would they be waiting for me around the corner?
No! I was going to stay and stand up for myself. He is the one who abused me. I could finally make a report. It was obvious that he had an attitude, he was angry, and he was drunk. My mind raced with many thoughts, and I attempted to make sense of the situation. I didn’t shatter that window he is going to claim that I did it. That was my experience in the past with abusive cops. They turn things around to make you look like the problem. I was sick of his mind games. I sat in my van and did not leave. I wasn’t taking the chance. I had been drinking but we had our last drink a few hours earlier, and it was nearing 2:00 a.m.
I felt trapped and confused. I figured if I call someone to come get me then I could leave, and not get pulled over. I called a couple of people, but they did not answer the phone. It was late, and they were probably sleeping. Next, I called Keith to see if he would come and pick me up, but I was crying so hard he could hardly understand me.
“Vic, I can’t understand you, you need to stop crying, what?” he asked.
“I can’t, there isn’t time to explain, I think Rob called the cops on me, and I just want to get out of here safely. I’m afraid to drive” I explained.
“I have a date over. Can you call someone else?” he asked. My cell phone battery was low. I didn’t have time discuss this.
“Yes, ok, bye” I hung up frustrated and scared. Rob kept calling me on my cell phone while I was on the phone trying to call someone to pick me up.
I finally picked up his call and I asked him “How could you do this to me?” and then a police expedition pulled in front of my car left tire to curb. He actually called the police! He put me in a no-win situation. He tells me to leave, and then he tells me if I leave then I will find myself locked up. What did he want from me? I was crying, and I felt helpless. The officer knocked on my window. I hung up the phone.
“What’s going on?” he asked.
The first thing I blurted out of my mouth was “He’s the one who should be arrested.”
The officer looked confused and said “I’m not going to arrest you. Tell me what’s going on tonight.”
“We were having an argument. He was both physically and verbally abusive. I wanted to leave, and he told me to leave. Then Robert said I was going to find myself locked up tonight if I left the house.” I needed to know who I was talking to since Robert had some friends on the force that I knew would cover for him. So, I asked “What is your name?”
“Sergeant Gary Carpenter” he answered.
Great! This is Gary Carpenter. Fucking wonderful! Yep, this was one of those officers who would protect his ass. I felt even more helpless. “You are Gary Carpenter?” I asked. I am so screwed. Both Dave Shaw and Rob hung out with Gary. Dave build’s computers for Gary’s private investigation company, and I remember many days when Gary would call Rob to see if he could switch shifts with him. The name was very familiar. He was one of their very good friends. I decided I wasn’t going to say too much at this point. Not because I was pleading the fifth, nor was I under arrest, but because I was terrified that they would do something to set me up.
I think my coping skills went right out the window at that point. I couldn’t think, I don’t think that I made any sense as I spoke. Rob stared out the window and watched me squirm with intimidation.
“Do you want to talk to me? or Bob? Bob is at the station” Officer Gary Carpenter asked. He was referring to Bob Macky.
“I just want to go home” I told him.
“You can’t leave because you have been drinking” Officer Carpenter stated.
“I am fine. I am just upset. I’ll take a PBT if that will clear me to drive” I offered. He gave me a PBT
Officer Carpenter was surprised at the PBT since Lt. Bob Macky told him via his police radio that Rob said I was “half in the bag.” Officer Gary Carpenter stated, “You didn’t have as much as I thought, .056.” Back in the year 2002, the legal limit was 1.0. I was cleared to drive.
Trembling and crying I felt like I finally cracked, and I talked to Gary for about forty-five minutes about everything that had happened. Gary excused himself and walked to his patrol car. It was the middle of February in Michigan, and the weather couldn’t have been more than ten degrees outside at two in the morning. I figured he went to his car to warm up because he was gone for a good half hour or more. Then my cell phone rang. It was Rob, and in a sick disturbing voice he said “Did you learn your lesson yet? Are you going to start listening to me now? They don t believe you, they think you’re crazy.”
My heart began to race, and I hung up on him. I had a surge of adrenaline, and I put my van in reverse, turned around in his driveway, and drove off. The minute I got to the first stop sign, which was only one block away, the overhead lights of the expedition went on, and it came racing up behind me. I wasn’t the threat, Robert was! I was in a total panic. I did not know what to do. I wasn’t going to let him do this to me.
I wanted to get away, far away from the situation. Driving the speed limit, I stopped at the next stop sign, put on my blinker and stopped. After about 45 seconds from the time I left Robert’s house I knew I had to stop, so I pulled over onto a side street. Gary Carpenter pulled me over along with three other patrol cars boxing me in like I was an escape convict on the loose! Gary opened my door, pulled me out of my car, threw me on the ground like a criminal, and told the officers to slap me with the whole nine yards.
It felt like a dream. Everything seemed like it was in slow motion. Police lights and sirens filled the small residential street. I was cuffed and put in the back of a police car where I waited for over a half hour while they searched my mini-van. All they would find was children’s backpacks and school books. I watched the tow truck hook up my vehicle for impound. I watched the officers’ small talk and laughing as if this was just another routine call for them, all of them satisfied with the apprehension of a criminal caught in the act.
I was in shock. As we drove away the two officers turned the video camera on me as if the humiliation wasn’t enough. I couldn’t speak. Everything they said to me seemed like a blur. When I asked what I was being charged with, they said they would tell me at the station. I don’t think they knew what I was being charged with yet.
I was taken to the St. Peters Township Police Department. Once they placed me in the holding cell I asked again what they were charging me with and the officers told me that I had to wait for the lieutenant. While I waited for Lieutenant Macky I was mug shot and finger printed. After they booked me I asked again what the charges were. Lt. Macky walked in with an arrogant smug attitude, and facial expression he said, “Fleeing and eluding, a five-year felony, and OUIL” which stands for operating under the influence of liquor.
I think my heart stopped. Suddenly I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I said with a quivering voice “What? I took a PBT and it was less than the legal limit. Robert abused me!” Lt. Macky didn’t respond and he walked away as I was talking. The shock and fear intensified. I was not trying to flee and elude anyone.
Lt. Macky and the other officers kept coming by the holding room where I was, staring at me like I was some exotic animal at the zoo. Their look revealed a look of betrayal. I didn’t betray anybody. I was intimidated, shocked, and sick. I remember thinking that my nursing career was over! A felony and an alcohol related offence? Nursing students need pristine records to get into the very competitive program. I hadn’t had as much as a parking ticket, ever! This can’t be happening. How was I going to explain this to the dean of nursing? I was literally paralyzed. I could not move. I sat there in shock.
The officers kept me hand cuffed and told me that I was going to county because they didn’t have accommodations for women prisoners at their facility. They were accommodating me right now because there were no other prisoners, and because I was being charged with a felony, so therefore I needed to go to county. All felony charges went to the county jail.
My shock quickly turned to disbelief. I couldn’t believe any of this was happening. All I remember from the drive to the county jail was sitting cuffed in the back of the police car staring out the side window watching the street lights, cars, and buildings pass in slow motion. My hearing became muffled, and I tuned out the officers as I thought about the events that took place. I was the one who was verbally and physically abused tonight, and I was arrested? Why did he do this? Did he need to have complete power and control over me? His jealously turned to rage and he enforced his power by having me arrested. It made me physically sick. They treated me like I was a violent criminal. I wasn’t the one who should’ve been sitting in the back of a police car, it was Robert who should have been there. And my children, I knew they were in good hands with my brother, but no one knew where I was. My brother Ken thought I would be spending the night with Robert. He had no idea I would be spending the night in jail. This was the first time I had ever been arrested. I would be the victim turned into the defendant for the first time, but it certainly would not be the last.
Police training and tactics are commonly used by police officers who abuse their intimate partners. The officer often uses many different police restraint techniques to make the victim comply. Officers are trained to restrain without leaving marks on the victim. They are also trained to put the victim in no win situations. These are common tactics used in domestic violence perpetrated by police officers.
Later I would learn what went on behind the scenes of this Valentine’s Day Arrest. A year later, someone from the police department had called me to tell me that I had a package waiting for me in the records department. I told them that I never asked for anything, but the receptionist said that it had my name on it and to come and get it. Curiosity got the best of me, so I went to the police department and in the package, was my mugshot from the Valentine’s Day arrest, the video tape of the police dash cam, and a black tape cassette that had the entire audio of all of the officers talking behind the scenes, including Robert.
The tape revealed the officers at the department, the officers who were in their vehicles and Robert all talking among themselves on who they should and should not send to this domestic violence call; and what and how they were going to have me arrested. In the tape Officer Gary Carpenter says “I haven’t given up yet. If she doesn’t leave on her own, then I will charge her with stalking.” But he also told me that I could not leave, a no win situation. The set-ups on the tapes were unbelievable, but what finally did work, was Robert calling me and asking me if I had learned my lesson yet. The entire time that I sat on that street in front of his house, cleared to leave after taken a PBT, I was still scared to drive away. I did not trust any of them.