By Joshua Elkridge
*The facts in the following article are true however, names have been changed to protect the victims.*
Friday, November 21st, 2014, 9:48 pm, South Sacramento, California. My friend, Donny is leaving my house wearing his dirty work clothes and riding on his bicycle that is practically held together with duct tape. I’m insisting on giving him a ride home in my car but he thankfully refuses, gathers his things into his large backpack, and I see him off through my garage. It’s a cold, dark night so Donny is listening to his iPod with his headphones at full blast to pass the time. He swiftly pedals pass a few quiet blocks and turns at the one that leads him home.
On the lawn of a house that sits halfway down the block in the direction that Donny is heading in, 15 men are standing on the lawn drinking and smoking. The group spots Donny as he is making his way pass their house and they attempt to stop him. Donny, who can’t hear anything because of his headphones, looks back to see some of the men chasing after him and he panics. He’s too fast for the pursuing men, so some of the men still on the lawn hop into a large Yukon SUV that sits in the driveway of their house and they take off after Donny.
Donny is three houses down on the sidewalk when the large SUV skirts pass him and attempts to block him off. Donny attempts to go around the SUV by passing the front end of it. As he’s passing, the SUV bolts forward onto the sidewalk, hitting Donny at his right side. The momentum of the impact sends Donny flying with his back towards a small, stoned wall that acts as a fence in front of a house. Donny’s back hits the wall and a glass bottle within his backpack breaks into his back. Donny is knocked out cold.
Donny awakens lying down with his back against the sidewalk. He rises to his feet in a heavy, dazed confusion. He attempts to race home on his bike, however his handle bars are bent and when he lifts his leg to pedal his knee gently brushes against his elbow, causing sharp pain that rushed through his arm. Donny knocks on the door of a house next to where the men had just tried to kill him. The family in the house dials 911 and a young boy that lives there wraps Donny in a blanket.
Highway patrol officers arrive at the scene 20 minutes later. Donny remembers going from confusion, pain, and terror to feeling safe and at ease upon seeing the police men. “I remember thinking oh! The good guys are here and I felt at ease enough to let my guard down.” Donny thinks back. Donny’s head was fuzzy, his left arm was stuck in an L position, his right hand was broken, and his back was definitely bruised. The officers did not consider this while asking him questions. The officers asked Donny if they could see his ID. Donny asked if they could take it out of his back pocket for him because he couldn’t move his arms. The officer left his ID outside of the wallet once he put it back. Once they began asking about what took place, the officers rushed Donny through his answers and they repeatedly asked if he had been hit by a car as if they didn’t believe him. The officers examined Donny’s wounds and his bike and they told Donny that maybe he just fell but he just had no recollection of it. Donny insisted he had been hit.
The officers asked Donny if he knew where the men came from. Donny pointed and told them it was exactly 4 houses down. The officers never went to the house to follow up on the investigation. In fact, the officers wrote in the police report that Donny did not know where the suspects came from. “When you’re the victim,” Donny Says. “I feel like you still have to be careful about what you say to the police. Otherwise, they won’t help you. Instead of actually trying to serve me justice, I felt like the officers were just pushing me down the assembly line. It was like they didn’t care.” The officers called an ambulance and while on the stretcher, Donny asked the officers to grab his backpack that was on the porch of the family that had dialed 911 for him. Three different officers went to get Donny’s backpack but they all turned up empty handed and Donny was rushed to the nearest hospital. The next day, Donny was released from the hospital and he retrieved his backpack that had been in the same spot he had left it in, untouched. Donny tried to get a police investigation into the matter, but the case was eventually dropped due to a lack of evidence.
It’s hard to wrap ones head around a story like this. If the officers had checked the house that night, evidence would have been all over the SUV and justice could have been served. Donny suspects that the officers didn’t help because he appeared to be a homeless person that night. One thing is certain, the police are supposed to serve the people and homeless or not, we are all the people.