This is horrific.
It was a little before 8 at night when the breaker went out at Emily Milburn's home in Galveston. She was busy preparing her children for school the next day, so she asked her 12-year-old daughter, Dymond, to pop outside and turn the switch back on.
As Dymond headed toward the breaker, a blue van drove up and three men jumped out rushing toward her. One of them grabbed her saying, "You're a prostitute. You're coming with me."
Dymond grabbed onto a tree and started screaming, "Daddy, Daddy, Daddy." One of the men covered her mouth. Two of the men beat her about the face and throat.
As it turned out, the three men were plain-clothed Galveston police officers who had been called to the area regarding three white prostitutes soliciting a white man and a black drug dealer.
All this is according to a lawsuit filed in Galveston federal court by Milburn against the officers. The lawsuit alleges that the officers thought Dymond, an African-American, was a hooker due to the "tight shorts" she was wearing, despite not fitting the racial description of any of the female suspects. The police went to the wrong house, two blocks away from the area of the reported illegal activity, Milburn's attorney, Anthony Griffin, tells Hair Balls.
After the incident, Dymond was hospitalized and suffered black eyes as well as throat and ear drum injuries.
Three weeks later, according to the lawsuit, police went to Dymond's school, where she was an honor student, and arrested her for assaulting a public servant. Griffin says the allegations stem from when Dymond fought back against the three men who were trying to take her from her home. The case went to trial, but the judge declared it a mistrial on the first day, says Griffin. The new trial is set for February.So plain-clothed police officers beat up a little girl who they were wrongly arresting, and now the girl and her father are the ones in trouble for trying to defend her?
"I think we'll be okay," says Griffin. "I don't think a jury will find a 12-year-old girl guilty who's just sitting outside her house. Any 12-year-old attacked by three men and told that she's a prostitute is going to scream and yell for Daddy and hit back and do whatever she can. She's scared to death."
Since the incident more than two years ago, Dymond regularly suffers nightmares in which police officers are raping and beating her and cutting off her fingers, according to the lawsuit.
Griffin says he expects to enter mediation with the officers in early 2009 to resolve the lawsuit.
Dymond and her father did exactly what most people would do in that situation -- if anything, Dymond was exceptionally brave in fighting back and yelling for help. The fact that she's being criminalized for it is beyond comprehension.
Apparently the Milburns have filed a lawsuit against the police department. Hopefully they're successful.
This case is especially compelling because it involves an innocent 12-year-old girl who did not fit the description of the alleged criminal the police were looking for, and instead was targeted because she happened to have the bad luck of opening her own front door while wearing shorts and being black. But if the allegations against the police are true, it's troubling on an even deeper level -- because it's an illustration of what sex workers face every day, but are rarely able to fight back against.
Police offiers and other people in positions of power can victimize and abuse sex workers with almost no fear of retribution or legal consequence. The police beat up a 12-year-old girl because they thought she was a prostitute, and, if the news report is accurate, have said as much. Had she actually been a prostitute, that treatment would have apparently been acceptable.
The whole story is disgusting. I haven't read anything about the officers being suspended or fired, but I sure hope they're out on their asses for this.
Galbeston Chief of Police, Charles Wiley, can be reached by phone at 409-765-3790, or by email at [email protected].
The night of August 22, 2006 would change the life of Dymond Milburn, 12, and her family forever. Before the night was over Dymond, an honor student attending advanced classes at Austin Middle School, would be falsely accused of being a prostitute and assaulted by 4 undercover Galveston police officers - while hanging unto a tree limb, yelling “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy” - requiring that she be hospitalized. According to the lawsuit:
The examining physician found that Dymond suffered injuries from multiple blows to the head, face, neck, lower back, left shoulder, and left hip/waist area. She suffered a contusion to the back of the head (where she was struck with a flashlight). There were abrasions on her arm and wrist. Her throat was swollen; she had difficulty swallowing, nausea and vomiting, and hoarseness of voice due to being struck in the throat. She had black eyes, scalp lacerations, tenderness of the vertebrae. She was experiencing double vision and loss of hearing. Dymond’s ear drum and nose were also injured (blood in ear, bruised nasal septum, and nose bleed).This 12-year-old black girl, not yet a teenager, was mistaken for a prostitute because, according to the police, she was dressed in “tight shorts”. The police were investigating a report of 3 white prostitutes and a drug dealer who were supposed to be located two blocks away from where they encountered Dymond, who was in front of her parents house.
Still not content to leave the family alone, three weeks after this unfortunate event, the police showed up at Dymond’s school to arrest her, in front of the entire class, for assaulting a public servant! They claim that she was arrested because she fought back against the plain-clothed police officers who were trying to arrest her in front of her own home. It didn’t matter that she was innocent and they, the police officers, were at the wrong address.
It all began around 8pm when the breaker went out at the Milburn home. Dymond’s mother, Emily, asked her daughter to go outside and turn the switch back on. Emily was busy preparing her kids for school the next day. So Dymond went outside to find the breaker. As she was heading towards the switch, a blue van pulled up to her and 4 undercover police officers jumped out.
Without identifying themselves as police officers one of them grabbed Dymond saying: “You’re a prostitute. You’re coming with me.” Dymond did not go quietly. She grabbed a tree and started sceaming “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy” so loudly that she could be heard by the neighbors. The police reacted by covering her mouth and beating her about the head and throat. The officers involved were: Sergeant Gilbert Gomez, Officers David Roark, Justin Popovich and Sean Stewart.
Wilfred Milburn, Dymond’s father, was on the balcony when he heard his daughter’s cries for help and came outside. Emily Milburn also heard the cries and ran outside. When they arrived outside, Dymond was hysterical and holding on to the tree with one arm; two officers were striking Dymond in the head, face and throat. At no time did the supervising officer (Gomez) on the scene intervene and stop the illegal seizure and assault. Officer Roark hit Dymond in the back of head with a flashlight, hit her neck, throat, slapped her across the face, and told her to get off the tree.Wilfred Milburn told the officer “that’s our daughter. She’s twelve.” The officer responded, “I don’t care if she’s twenty-two, thirty-two, or forty-six. Tell her to calm down.”
As a result of the Officers’ assault, Dymond suffered from pain in the back of the head, lower back pain, a sprained wrist with abrasions, and throat, neck and face pain. Her parents took her to the University of Texas Medical Branch for treatment. They arrived at the emergency room at 9:24 p.m. on August 22, 2006. Dymond was treated for head injuries and multiple contusions.This incident so traumatized Dymond that she had to seek professional help.
On Friday, September 15, 2006, at 10:00 a.m., twelve (12) year old Dymond Milburn was arrested for assaulting a public servant. The arrest took place while Dymond was at school.
Since the incident, Dymond has had regular nightmares in which police officers are raping her, beating her, and cutting off her fingers. Her fear prevented her from participating in normal activities (going outside to play) which she no longer considered safe. Dymond sought psychological treatment, and on October 31, 2006, she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder due to the incident which is the subject of this lawsuit.In the lawsuit, Dymond claims that she has also experienced: Loss of appetite, loss of normal functioning, and negative effect on school grades due to trouble concentrating in class, all associated with the beating suffered at the hands of the law enforcement officers.
The police version of the story is, of course, not quite the same.Thefollowing is a statement from the lawyer for the officers, William Helfand:
Both the daughter and the father were arrested for assaulting a peace officer. “The father basically attacked police officers as they were trying to take the daughter into custody after she ran off.”The charge of assaulting a public servant, brought against Dymond Milburn, was taken to trial, but the judge declared it a mistrial on the first day. A new trial is set for February.
Also, “The city has investigated the matter and found that the conduct of the police officers was appropriate under the circumstances,” Helfand says. “It’s unfortunate that sometimes police officers have to use force against people who are using force against them. And the evidence will show that both these folks violated the law and forcefully resisted arrest.”
“I think we’ll be okay,” says Anthony Griffin, Dymond’s defense lawyer. “I don’t think a jury will find a 12-year-old girl guilty who’s just sitting outside her house. Any 12-year-old attacked by three men and told that she’s a prostitute is going to scream and yell for Daddy and hit back and do whatever she can. She’s scared to death.”Griffin says he expects to enter mediation with the officers in early 2009 to resolve the lawsuit.