Reliving a nightmare, one police report at a time


City Times

Daniel Wright, Sr., studies RTVF and digital journalism at City College. Photo by Mike Madriaga

Daniel Wright Sr

It’s a day I’ll never forget. I relive it every time I hear of a case of police brutality or the shooting of an unarmed citizen.

It was Aug. 18, 2001. I was in custody for a bench warrant (for failure to appear in court). I was arrested Aug. 15 and booked into downtown Central Jail. I let the nurse at intake know that I had been diagnosed with a broken eye socket before arriving.

After a two-day stay, my name was called to be transferred to the George Bailey Detention Facility, which I protested as I was on a medical floor and hadn’t seen a doctor.

Upon arrival to the detention facility near the border all the inmates are placed in a line-up, stripped searched and housed according to the color of their bands. Deputies singled me out due to my red band and ordered me into a holding cell, where I sat alone.

The tank was filthy. Food was spread along a wooden bench. I grabbed a wad of toilet paper — which had a dollar pattern — and cleaned a spot to sit down. I threw the toilet paper in the toilet but for some reason I didn’t flush it.

As the hours passed, I became tired and concerned as to why I hadn’t been housed, so I pressed the contact box.

The deputy responded by asking, “What’s the emergency?”

I explained my situation and the deputy replied, “This is for emergencies only, don’t press my f***king button!”

About 20 minutes passed and a deputy walked by my cell door. I tried to stop him but to no avail as he just looked at me and mocked me with food that he was eating as he passed. Another deputy passed approximately 15 minutes later with the same results.

Finally, a black deputy with stripes on his sleeve stopped to hear me out. I explained that I was placed in this cell three hours before because I had a medical band and I had yet to see a physician since being incarcerated.

As I spoke with the deputy another one walked by, looked down at the bottom of the cell door, stopped and asked the deputy whom I’m speaking with, “Did he break that window?”

The deputy and I looked down at the cell door to see a cracked window.

The deputy looked at me and asked, “Did you break the window?”

I assured him I had not broken anything!

To no avail; the deputy immediately put out a call, “We have a broken window in holding…” No sooner than said, there were 15 to 20 deputies outside of my cell.

A deputy (without stripes) yelled at me, “Why’d you break MY f***king window!”

I told the deputy I had nothing to do with the broken glass. The deputy ordered me to the back of the cell and to face the wall. I immediately complied. The cell door opened and I’m rushed, grabbed, and slammed into the wall with both my hands placed into wrist locks by two officers.

They again began to repeatedly ask, “Why’d you break my window?” — as my wrist were tweaked with more and more pressure. I again told the deputies I didn’t break anything. I asked the deputies to look into the toilet and explained that I had to clean up just to sit down.

I had recently had a surgery on my right wrist, which greatly affected my range of motion, and asked the deputy twisting my right wrist to let up a little. He looked at my wrist, saw the scar tissue and lightly let off some pressure. The deputies then handcuffed me as tight as they possibly could and removed me from the cell, rushing me down the corridor, still in wrist locks.

As I’m escorted down the hall by some 15 deputies, the deputy on my left continuously kicked the back of my left foot causing my rubber slipper to begin to slide off my foot. As I dragged my foot to try and recover my sandal, the deputy yelled out, “He’s resisting!”

The next thing I hear is, “here we go!”

The next thing I know I’m going down!

As I’m being forced to the ground, I bump into a deputy, which causes him to fall. So I’m slammed to the ground cuffed, and at least five deputies begin to beat me.

I was repeatedly socked in the sides and face while the deputies yelled, “Stop resisting… stop resisting!” although I’m handcuffed laying flat on my stomach.

The next thing I know my right leg was lifted off the floor and my ankle was placed into a Ken Shamrock-style ankle lock. As the pressure on my ankle increased, one deputy slugged me in my broken eye.

I cried out, “I have a broken eye socket!”

He gave me one more punch, then stopped, observing his work and grinning while a net was being tied around my head with a pull string tied around my neck.

“Hog tie or chair? Hog tie or chair?”

“Get the chair…”

So out comes a chair.

I’m picked up off the floor (still handcuffed) and thrown into a chair. Deputies then begin to place seatbelt style straps across my chest and ankles.

As I’m being strapped down I feel pressure on my big left toe. So I look down to see the deputy who had twisted my ankle, pulling with all his force, had broken my big left toe.

Before I could say anything I’m placed in a choke hold! I begin to pass out when I hear a voice yell, “Breathe through your nose!” — which allowed me to remain conscious.

I was left strapped in the chair for about 20 minutes, steadily losing the feel in my hands and fingers due to the tightness of the handcuffs.

A nurse came in to check my injuries. She requested that the deputies remove the hand restraints but she was told, “No, he’s dangerous…”

Finally the deputies unstrap me and ordered me to a cell.

Now I’ve been in this chair for 40-45 minutes, so I rose up, placed my right foot on the ground and almost fell! That’s how I found out that my ankle had been injured. On my next step (on my left foot) I again almost fell. I discovered that my left big toe was injured. I hobbled into the cell.

I sued the City of San Diego and received a decent settlement. But the damage from the mental anguish, that helpless feeling will never go away.