From the April 2008 Idaho Observer:
Why are you hitting me? You are not supposed to hit me like this!
Before you could answer such a question, you would need to know the year of the alleged crime, nature of the supposed offense, color of the defendant’s skin, number of dogs, helicopters, and policemen involved in looking for a defendant to no avail. As a result, many prisoners such as myself are being unlawfully detained due to being black and not having sufficient funds to hire a defense attorney’s interest, time and skills.
It was last year sometime that I heard of the new statue of Rodney King that went up in Tallahassee, Florida; and I thought, good, it’s about time they put up a statue of Rodney King, in a black neighborhood, to mark all the times that a black man has gotten beat-up by white policemen. Then someone told me it was actually a statue of Martin Luther King in Tallahassee, about 15 years after a Tallahassee policeman beat me up, and then their white lawyers, white jurors and white judge put me in prison for 70 years. Well, they should have put up a statue of Rodney King in Tallahassee since it is a lot closer to the truth of what happens to black men in Tallahassee.
My own situation started on October 16, 1992 after a heated argument at Damon Harper’s townhouse. He called 911 and Tallahassee police officers arrived at the scene. I started running to avoid detention. That lead to a lengthy pursuit and a five-day search. Every direction that I would run, a different police officer was coming towards me. I would turn to run another direction, running through a couple of neighborhoods, and across many streets and swamps. While running into a wooded area, I tripped over some shrubbery and, before I could get up, one of the officers had caught up to me.
The officer began hitting me non-stop, and on the top of my head with his baton. I asked, "Why are you hitting me? You are not supposed to be hitting me like this!"
The officer responded, "Lay your black ass down!" while continuing to beat me. I thought I was done for, like Rodney King. So I decided, out of fear, to defend myself, and to fight back only to keep from being beaten to death. Rodney King happened to be a large man. I am only 5’ 8", 165 pounds and knew I was going to die if I didn’t fight back. The officer was 230 pounds and was using his baton; I only had my own hands and somehow managed to get away.
Both of us were injured from fighting. There were literally over a hundred police officers, a couple of dogs, and a few helicopters looking for me. As I continued to run anywhere I could, I became more scared. To avoid being detected, I climbed up to the top of a tree where I fell asleep. The next day, when I woke up, I could see policemen still looking for me so I stayed in the tree until the following day.
Upon arriving back in my own neighborhood, I was informed by friends and family members that I needed to turn myself in, especially if I had anything to do with the case, or if any of my injuries were from this now highly publicized case. However, after hearing my side of the case, everyone, including myself, feared that, if I was caught outside of the public eye, the police officers would kill me. My sister called a local activist who worked out a deal with the head sheriff. The deal was for me to turn myself in exchange for a promise that I would not be beaten or harmed anymore and, after a short interview, I would receive medical treatment.
On October 29, 1992, the state prosecutor filed an eight count information charging me with burglary of a dwelling, armed robbery, aggravated battery on an L.E.O., unlawfully taking a law enforcement officer’s firearm, depriving an officer of weapon, depriving officer of communication, resisting officer with violence, and resisting arrest without violence.
If most of these charges don’t sound the same, don’t worry; the case gets better. A jury trial was held in April 1993 that lasted two days. The state presented its case by using false testimonies given by law enforcement officers. I testified in my own behalf. However, my defense attorney did not call any of my four witnesses to testify to my injuries and support my "self-defense" defense. The 911 tape proving that a burglary never occurred magically disappeared. Two jurors were sleeping and both attorneys followed the jury into the jury room during deliberations. Even after the jury was deliberating while the prosecutor was inside the jury room, the prosecutor came back into the courtroom stating, "Your Honor, there’s no use for the court to use the lesser-included instructions." The judge replied, "Do what you have to do." The prosecution marked out the attempted burglary and trespassing charges. The jury returned a guilty verdict on all but two charges.
The First District Court of Appeals for the State of Florida reversed the conviction of depriving an officer of his weapon because the evidence was insufficient to prove such a charge. The truth is that I did not deprive or take anything from the officer. Next, my family went broke hiring me a post-conviction attorney. Although Mr. Geoffrey C. Fleck made two of my sentences run concurrently rather than consecutively, I would trade back the 10 years my sentence was shortened for my record of evidence that Mr. Fleck refused to return to me.
Now I cannot present the actual evidence demonstrating fraud being committed by the State—showing the officer’s testimony was false, the 911 tape showing that a burglary was never committed, the jury instructions being marked out, etc.—because this evidence was kept by Mr. Fleck. Nor can I show you the statistics of experts caught lying and bending rules just to obtain a conviction. However, there are actual witnesses to all of the above. If you are uneducated in criminal laws and rules, the odds of gaining evidence/justice is slim to none as a prisoner in Florida.
My primary objective is to locate someone willing to locate the witnesses, legal documents, the 911 tape, or retrieve statements from each side that will lead to my release from prison. While I don’t have anything to offer in return, I consider my story to be one of the greatest wrong-doings in the criminal justice system.
Ms. Ella Bella Faunte from Channel 6 News was present with her cameraman and she will remember two jurors sleeping during the trial as well as both attorneys following the jurors into the jury room. Ms. Ella Bella Faunte’s testimony or her written sworn affidavit would show that I was denied a fair trial. The only problem is that I do not know how to contact her. She is not the only witness that I would like to locate. But there again, all I have is the following names and their addresses from the year 1993. Tommie Sellers, Buck Lake Rd., Tallahassee; Billy Wilson, Route 3 Box 714, Tallahassee; Jo Ann Mitchell and Brigitte Davis, 8123 Buck Lake Rd., Tallahassee.
The only question you should probably have is why did this happen to me, or why do government officials lie and cheat our justice system just to secure a conviction? Today, I still cannot answer either question. However, there could be many possible reasons:
1) The entire Tallahassee Police Dept., along with many supporting agencies, invested five days searching for me and they did not find me themselves. Thus, lots of resources were spent—both in labor and fuel for helicopters—unsuccessfully;
2) The officer was seriously injured during our encounter. Officer Walker’s left mandible, left crondyle and left orbital bones were broken;
3) I happened to be the only black man involved in the entire case and, under the circumstances, the results could very well have been done in a racist action; and
4) Maybe Florida’s capital, Tallahassee, does not want a statue of Rodney King there since it could be a reminder of their own police brutality and corruption.
Under these facts, any reasonable person would think that I received a vindictive sentence and trial.
Thank you for reading my story. Any and all correspondence is welcome, and any question will be fully answered. "Fiat Justitia, Ruat Caelum."
Walter Love Jr. DC# 058454
Madison Correctional Institution
382 South West M.C.I. Way F-1130-S
Madison, Florida 32340
Geoffrey C. Fleck, attorney
2732 SE County Road, 21-B
Melrose, Florida 32653