“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. ” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.
When I finally laid my head down in the hospital bed at whatever o’clock in the morning, it never even crossed my mind as a possibility that all the people that put me here would be sleeping in their own beds right then. How would that even be possible? What if things took a turn for the worse at the hospital and I went into a coma or died?
I would end up spending 4 days in the hospital which caused me to miss my child’s 7th birthday. I had many visitors during those 4 days from friends and family, but oddly I never had a visit from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department to take statements or ask me what happened. Deanna’s father and many others were very diligent in questioning the behavior of the department that night and learned that they didn’t even take a report of what happened! If a report isn’t taken that essentially means that a crime didn’t occur.
The public pressure continued through the weekend which included a call from the Santa Clarita Mayor at the time, Bob Kellar to the station wanting an explanation of how a citizen can be in the hospital and the people that put him there were just walking around free? For his actions and kindness to my family, I have to thank Mayor Kellar, he left a very kind voicemail for me while I was in the hospital. It would soon come to feel like there was no one on our side.
When I was released from the hospital on the following Monday, a deputy did finally show up to our house to get a statement and there was eventually a detective assigned to my case but things continued to get weird. Our friends eventually tracked down the kid’s social media and what we discovered was an absolute train wreck. These kids essentially flaunting excessive drinking, drugs, theft, other assaults, racism, you name it these kids essentially flaunted it with no shame whatsoever. This made us feel quite confident that justice should be swift.
Boy, were we wrong about that.
We had some people in town recommend a somewhat well known lawyer to help us, not knowing better we listened and he brought in another lawyer from what Santa Claritians refer to as “down in the valley,” this lawyer seemed like he knew what he was doing, he had swagger and told us about some high profile cases that he had handled and we had heard about. They came to my work and I signed on the line. He says we need to get restraining orders immediately and that is reassuring since Deanna is pretty terrified to be at home alone. She went out and bought any security device she could find at Lowes until we could get an ADT system put in. She had good reason to be on edge the neighbor kid literally tweeted that he was now gonna be homeless because a “middle-aged ginger f*ck” and hashtag “We’ll be back for your ass” and to top it off she is dealing an assault victim with early symptoms of PTSD.
My Health Insurance
One of the most confusing things that happened was the cancellation of my health insurance without notice. Apparently, it was canceled for non-payment. So when I was in the hospital, I essentially didn’t have health insurance even though my paycheck was being docked for it every single time. The attorney explained that the way the employer had set up the account to be debited for the insurance was against California State Employment Guidelines, and attempted to sue them. It is apparently not ok to have a company debit your paycheck to then pay a personal broker for health insurance. In the end, they did give me the money that they illegally docked from my paycheck but that didn’t help me in the end.
When the ophthalmologist came to my hospital room he told me I was lucky that I didn’t lose all vision in my left eye. Sadly, I would end up losing about 1.5 vision points on that eye, which was my dominant eye prior to the assault, and now my left and right eyes are both equally bad. On top of that, I have developed floaters in my left eye since the assault.
All four sides of my eye socket were cracked, which ended up pushing my left eye back and down into the socket. I was supposed to get a surgery that would have put a guitar pick-shaped piece under the eye to help even it out. Unfortunately, that surgery never took place because when I was trying to schedule it, the new measure on the Affordable Healthcare Act (Obamacare) took effect. This meant a huge monkey wrench in everything, and I was now required to get insurance to cover a surgery that was supposed to be a part of our Civil Case. To this day the surgery has never been done.
My nose had 2 breaks the one on the bridge of my nose is still visible. I also had a crack across the cheekbone that caused numbness on the left side of my mouth for years to come. In addition one of my back molars on my left side was broken as well.
I can live with all of this physical damage, it was the emotional strain, frustration, and PTSD that literally almost killed me. I will cover this more in depth in Part 5.
The Police Report
We never to this day got a copy of the police report that the Deputy came to write 5 days after the assault. While we asked for it many times, as well as our lawyers, asked for it and the Sheriff’s department just flat refused to give us a copy claiming that they couldn’t because it involved minors. We asked if they could just redact the names and give us and copy and they still refused.
So when we discovered these people on Social media we started collecting screenshots of all their disturbing behavior. What we found out is that most of these kids, where kids of privilege but they were all obsessed with hip-hop culture and called themselves the “MINT” gang. We believe mint is in reference to Ralph Lauren calling his clothes “mint,” not the color mint.
The deeper we dug through this group’s social media the more disturbing the behavior we found. They would brag about stealing alcohol saying things like “it is always free.” Brag about fights and flaunt their drug use. They would post openly racist and homophobic remarks and memes, as well as make criminal threats to “come back for my ass” while posting imagery of guns.
In one alarming instance, I sent a screen of a post that we found particularly alarming to the detective in charge via text. Here is how that interaction went.
Detective – Real Nice…
Detective – Looks like police issue. I’ll call his dad
Me – There is a restraining order against him right now… I am not sure if it has been served or not
Me – I am waiting to hear back from the lawyer or whether the PI got it to him or not
Detective – Ok. the DA still has your case for review
We were all stunned by this interaction because when a person has an active restraining order they are supposed to surrender any firearms. They most certainly shouldn’t be flaunting that they have multiple firearms on social media and their dad gets a courteous call from a law enforcement buddy? The kid knew that he would never be held accountable for anything he did because law enforcement would just look the other way.
Three weeks after they let these guys know the DA would not be taking the case, On October 23, Deanna, the day after her birthday, and I met with the Detectives to go over the investigation report that District Attorney Richard Taklender ultimately decided not to pursue. They handed us a binder that must have been 2 inches thick, it was in this report that I first learned that I had been knocked unconscious by the Waste Management trash can.
While I was reading the report I had interaction with the detectives that went something like this. TR is the name of one of the people involved.
Me – Why does TR get a pass on this?
Detective – TR gets a pass?
Me – It says “I asked him if he threw a trash can at the neighbor”, and he replied “Yeah I thought you were talking about punching.” I mean isn’t that assault with a deadly weapon? You have him admitting to it
Detective – Here is the thing on that particular thing, you can’t charge someone with something they admit too, you don’t remember the trash can be thrown at you and that I will tell you
Me – So if I get in a fight the goal is to knock someone unconscious so they can’t remember anything? That pretty much the way it goes?
Detective – You have to understand that a lot of the decisions that the DA based on this case is what can we prove
This was very frustrating interaction, what does this mean for rape victims who are unconscious and don’t know exactly what happened to them?
*Sidenote* This why I am really not a fan of district attorneys, almost all of them have some kind of political ambitions and they all want to brag about their conviction rate because it sounds good to say they are tough on crime and have a 99% conviction rate but what that really means is that they cherry-picked their cases and only took slam dunks leaving how many victims like myself out in the cold.
So that was a that no criminal charges will be filed and our focus moves to the civil case. The detectives said they would give us information on seeking compensations from the State’s Victim Fund they failed to follow through on that promise.
The Civil Case
The civil portion was an extremely frustrating process. Our lawyer did a “kitchen sink” lawsuit which essentially means he is suing anyone and everyone involved and each party would have to prove they are not liable, the lawsuit included the HOA, my friend and the owner of the condo, something I really didn’t want to do but I felt that not listening to my Lawyer would have been a foolish thing.
4 days in the hospital is extremely expensive I think when everything was said and done we had about 50k worth of medical bills and that was just the expenses to keep me alive that didn’t include anything to fix the damage that was done.
I went through a 12-hour psychological evaluation, a stressful court deposition that was canceled and rescheduled a few times, along with countless counseling sessions with legal counsel. I was so nervous because of how raw my feelings were and facing lawyers that would purposely try to trip me up, troll me to get a reaction.
Things drug on and on for 5 years and on April 26, 2018, I signed a settlement for a whopping $3501.00 which reduced and cleared out the original medical bills but never fixed any of the damage done to my face. I received 0 dollars.