Grey City » Grey City Archives

The strong arm of the law

Fourth-year Crystal Tsoi shares the story of her arrest and trial.

Photo: Nicholas Shatan
Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel is proposing to close the 21st District police station at 29th Street and Prairie Avenue. Most of the Hyde Park-Kenwood neighborhood is within the 21st District.

As a reporter, I’m used to seeing my name in the bylines, not the headlines. I want to tell the story, not be in it. I never thought I would experience police brutality firsthand, but I did. And now that I’ve gone through the same trials and setbacks as those I have reported on, it’s time for me to step back into the bylines to tell my story.

I was arrested for saving a girl’s life, not for demonstrating with Occupy Chicago or protesting the NATO summit. I did not ask to get arrested as a political statement.

Looking back, I see a seemingly innocuous sign of what was to come. Last March, I had been assigned to follow up with an article for the Maroon on Gregory Malandrucco and Mat- thew Clark, two University affiliates who were allegedly beaten up by plain clothes CPD officers a year ago. Greg and Matt had recently obtained and released surveillance footage of the officers who assaulted them that night, and the interview with them was to see if there were new developments in the case.

One of the most salient memories I have of that first meeting was Greg’s struggle to retell the story of what happened to him and Matt that night. There were moments of silence and reflection—emotional collateral in every word that Greg spoke. I would never have guessed that I, too, would one day share with Matt and Greg my own experiences with police brutality.

My story begins like any other 20-something’s typical weekend. I was out at a nightclub on the West Side of Chicago for my friend’s 22nd birthday. Toward the end of the night, I saw a girl lying unconscious on the dance floor. As a certified first responder, I stopped to ensure that she got the proper medical attention. I went through all the basic procedures. I checked her pulse. It was faint. She was not responding to verbal or physical stimuli, which suggested alcohol poisoning. My questions to the individuals around her revealed that she was there by herself and the woman who was with her did not know her personally. I told someone to call 911 and repositioned her flat on her back with her head tilted to the side so that no vomit got into her airways.

Despite my hesitation about a potential neck injury, the bouncer carried her over his back and out of the club, where I stayed with her until the paramedics came about 15 minutes later.

The police came with the paramedics and dispersed the crowd surrounding the girl. After handing over care of the girl to the paramedics, I backed away from the police perimeter. However, as a matter of potential liability, I wanted to leave any information that might be medically relevant to the girl later at the hospital with a law enforcement official at the scene, especially considering how the bouncer had carried the girl down the stairs over his back.

I approached a nearby officer and presented myself as CPR/first responder certified.

“Officer, I need to leave you information about the victim…”

But before I could finish, he cut me off and said, “You need to back off and leave the area. The professionals are here and have everything under control.”

“I understand that Officer, but I don’t…”

“If you don’t fucking back off right now, I’m going to arrest you.”

He then forcefully grabbed my arm and shoved me back several feet.

I was livid. As I was thrown back by the officer’s forceful push, my friend caught me and held me back despite my vocal protest that what the officer had just done was wrong.

Eventually I broke free from my friend’s restraint and walked back toward the officer with the intent of asking him for his star number and name in order to file a report with the Independent Police Review Authority.

“What is your badge number and your…”

Before I could finish my question, he twisted my right arm to my back. My whole body convulsed in pain when he applied additional pressure and secured my other arm behind my back.

One of my most salient memories from that seconds-long encounter was that, as he dragged me away to his patrol vehicle, I screamed out in pain and desperation to the crowd to no avail.

“Please, please help! He’s hurting me! He’s hurting me! Someone please, he’s hurting me! I did nothing wrong!”

For fear of the same repercussions, no one dared stop him. The officer then pushed me against his patrol car to secure handcuffs on me and “tossed” (as he would describe it at my trial last month) me into the back of his car.

Another officer, who I assumed was his partner, got into the car with me.

“What are you arresting and charging me with?” I asked.

“Oh, it can be a number of things, failure to disperse and follow orders from a police officer. We’ll decide when we get to the station, so don’t you worry about it.”

Growing up in Los Angeles in a culture fostered by memories of Rodney King and knowing neighbors who had the words “fuck the police” shaved into their heads, I knew resentment grew from a history of police brutality and corruption. The stories I heard when I was a child, as well as Greg and Matt’s experiences, all came rushing back. Even one of the readings I did for my Law and Society class, a study on police interrogation and intimidation tactics, joined the maddening thoughts flooding into my head.

Now I was having a firsthand encounter with those tactics and those feelings of resentment. The car reached the Wood Street Station in the 13th district at 2:30 a.m. I wouldn’t leave the station to be transferred and subsequently processed at the female lock-up for another four hours. It was during this time that my vague notions of police culture would become a full-blown reality.

Police culture places a large emphasis on absolute authority and its use as an intimidation mechanism. In the dialogue between captive and capturer, reason does not factor into the discussion. It is a fruitless conversation based on circular logic and fallacious acts of subordination. The reinforcing fraternal cohesion among the cops at the station and their adamancy in demonizing me shook my own cognizance of what happened that night and even my belief in my own innocence in the weeks to follow.

When I tried to explain myself, one of the female cops replied with, “You think you’re Ms. Hero saving the world? Well, I’m giving [the victim] your personal information so that if anything happens to her, she’ll sue you. Also, if you’re thinking about suing us, we can always subpoena the tapes and we’ll see who’s right. Remember, whatever document you sign your name on is a legal document and you’re held under oath. I can’t wait until the day we can sue you guys back. They need to make that happen.”

They allowed me to call one friend before taking my phone away. Thankfully my friend Jonathan was still awake, and he and another friend took a cab to the station—only to be told that it would still be hours before the station could even book me.

As I was sitting there, watching them discuss the crimes they could plausibly charge me with, I realized this was the B.A. topic I had been searching for all summer. Although this was not necessarily the ideal situation in which I had hoped my Einstein moment would occur, I took it as it was and voiced my gratitude to the cop who had arrested me for his timely role in reinvigorating my intellectual pursuit of knowledge.

I would not be released for another five and a half hours, at 11:30 a.m. the next day. During that time, I was stripped of my personal belongings, fingerprinted and processed, and kept in a cell while I waited for someone to come post bail for my release. Though the officer who arrested me had mercifully allowed me to write down a few numbers on my hand at the police station, they were wiped off my palms when they were cleaned for fingerprinting. One of two numbers on my hand was Jonathan’s, and he couldn’t accept my collect calls without a credit card. The other was my friend Maritza’s, who thankfully accepted my call.

However, I still had a long wait ahead of me before she could arrive, and it was tortuous. When you’re in the confines of a cell, sitting on a cold slab of metal with nothing to occupy your mind, you experience a momentary lapse in sanity.

“This is what you get for breaking the law!” the female attendants kept yelling at me. Pleading with them about my innocence was stupid and pointless.

As I waited for Maritza, fears that she might not find me for another 24 hours before I could get released mentally and physically crippled me. Never had I felt so hopeless.

Maritza and her cousin finally arrived at the station and I was released with two counts of resisting arrest. The minute we got into the car I fell into Maritza’s arms crying. It was an amalgamation of all the anger, indignation, and despair I had suppressed all night and morning.

Despite everything that had happened that night, I still possessed a naïveté that compelled me to believe that my name would be vindicated in a court of law.

My first of many court dates was November 2. As expected, my cop showed up bright and early at 9 a.m. Not as expected was the overwhelming sense of fear that resurfaced when I saw him again.

We set a date two weeks later for November 16, during which I would appear at the 555 West Harrison Street courthouse to schedule the date for my actual trial, which was then set for January 30. I read Malcolm Feeley’s book The Process Is the Punishment for class, and its succinct title captured my experiences in five words.

In fact, during one of my interviews for my B.A. thesis, I spoke to a cop who revealed that there was an unspoken rule that if a civilian asked for the badge number, you arrest them. My cop was getting paid to lose a day of work to go to court, while I had to skip classes that I couldn’t afford to miss. That was my punishment for holding a policeman accountable.

On the morning of January 30, I learned that all the cases at 555 West Harrison Street had been transferred to another courthouse at 25th Street and California Avenue. On a day when I had hoped to finally be redeemed in the eyes of the law, this long and arduous process was prolonged by at least another two months. I then had another date scheduled for March 1 in order to decide my final trial date.

The courthouse at 25th and California stood in stark contrast to 555 West Harrison. Stand- ing next to a penitentiary, it boasted a menac- ing exterior and an equally depressing interior, with off-white courtrooms illuminated by garish fluorescent lights. My trial date was set for April 18, two days before my B.A. thesis was due.

Much of this whole ordeal had been about waiting. Waiting for the next date and waiting for what sometimes felt like a drawn out indefinite end.

One of the things I have learned in and out of the classroom by this point is the cultish style of operation of the American judicial system. It is a system that favors its own, those who possess an intricate knowledge of its inner workings, from prosecutors to police officers.

As a result, my case depended solely on my lawyer’s experience and connections. Luckily, my lawyer knew the system well. He understood my chances with each judge, the effect each officer would have on the witness stand, and, incidentally, informed me of my arresting officer’s history of being rough with females.

Because at the end of the day, the charges brought against me weren’t an act to deter future disobedience of the law. If that were the case, what kind of Aesop’s fable moral would this send to all the arrogant college students such as myself? That you will be arrested and prosecuted in the court of law if you responsibly help someone?

No. My cop’s attitude told me nothing about respect for the law, only about his desire to punish me for a perceived challenge of authority, the authority of a Chicago Police Department officer. Prior to the trial itself, my lawyer went over what I was going to say on the stand, and a part of me was excited to tell my side of the story.

The judge we got that day favored bench trials over jury trials. Accordingly, my lawyer informed me that opting for a jury trial would actually jeopardize my case. Instead, a bench trial increased my chances of a full acquittal.

The officer who had arrested me and the female officer who had booked me came to the stand. The prosecutor questioned them on what happened that night, basing the case on the fact that I was drunk and didn’t know what I was doing. It did not look good at that point. Every objection raised by my lawyer was over- ruled and I began to feel apprehensive.

However, halfway through the prosecution’s questioning, my lawyer leaned over to me and whispered, “You’re going to be not guilty.” He then decided to waive calling up his one and only witness: me.

Like I said before, my lawyer’s experience with the law sometimes borders on mystical. Afterward, when I asked him how he had known, he replied like a magician who refuses to reveal his tricks, “When you do this long enough, you just know.”

But before the judge gave out his decision, he decided to reprimand me in theatrical fashion:

“Young lady, what you did that night jeopardized what these fine men and women of the law were trying to do to save someone’s life. This is America, a country based on the rule of law, and you are compromising the very values of this nation. I have reviewed all the evidence of this case and I hope you learn from your mistakes.”

The whole time that the judge was reciting this dramatic monologue, my lawyer leaned over and told me to ignore everything he said.

“I find you ‘not guilty.’”

What just happened? Did my lawyer orchestrate a deal before the trial? Was this all a theatrical production done for reeducating me in a civic lesson? My seven-month-long saga ended not with any dramatic legal banter between the prosecution and my lawyer but with a simple not guilty ruling. I wasn’t complaining, but at the same time I still didn’t understand what had happened.

After court was adjourned, my lawyer told me to stay behind while he went into the room behind the courtroom to the judge’s chamber.

He then came back out and led me out of the courtroom.

“That was absolutely ridiculous! I can’t believe he said all of that. Outrageous!”

The whole time, I was under the assumption that the judge was just putting on a show and I asked, “Wait. So everything he had said about the rule of law…he was serious?”

“He meant every word of it! That was absolutely unbelievable the way he yelled at you like that. Which is why I went back and talked to him afterwards. I told him that all you did was try to help a girl. Given, I stretched it a bit and said you don’t even drink but that was just so over the top. He did not need to say all those things to you. Actually, I don’t think I can try another case in front of that judge after telling him off.”

I’ve often described my experience as Kafka-esque. My experiences served to not only further confirm my skepticism about the law but also highlight the arbitrariness of its enforcement and execution. I didn’t learn any real lessons, and I have no trite inspirational one-liners to move the masses. I have only a compelling story, and I hope you can make sense of the absurdity of my predicaments.

  • LYY

    I LOVE YOU! That is all.

  • Class of 2014

    As another person who had to deal with jail, and then going back to court more times than I can count for what should have been a simple case, thank you, thank you so much for writing about this in detail. It sounds perverse, but I wish more students here knew what the process is like firsthand.

  • Jason Cigan

    If the Cops only referred to you as “C.” the entire time, the Kafka analogy would be flawless.

    I was intimidated and searched for twenty minutes by my local police on my way to work because I fit the description of a man seen smoking crack in the area. It wasn’t nearly as bad as Ms. Tsoi’s experience, but it was enough to teach me the folly of entrusting public safety to a group of men and women who seek, by the nature of their job, power and authority over civilians.

  • Hi

    When I was trained as a first responder, I remember the instructor telling us that we should back off as soon as the cops arrived on the scene. I once had to perform CPR on a woman for about four minutes until the police arrived and successfully defibrillated her. Luckily, in my case, the police were extremely grateful. These were suburban cops, though.

    Now, when I think back to being told to back off, I can’t help but wonder if any of that was taught to spare us from an outrageous encounter like yours. I’m sorry you had to go through that.

  • I stand by the police.

    There are so many things wrong with this article. The author did not experience police brutality, that is absurd. Furthermore, how dumb do you have to be to disobey police orders? If the police order a crowd to disperse, you obey their orders. The author disobeyed their orders at least twice. Stating that she had to break free from a friend’s restraint indicates that she was not calm. How do you think the police are going to react to someone who is not calm and is again disobeying their orders?

    The author tries to make her broader claims seem profound but they really are not, though her use of unnecessarily flourished and emotional language is profound (profoundly annoying–I was not persuaded by it). Regardless, of course police culture emphasizes absolute authority. How else do you think people might be compelled to obey the law? What do you even think the purpose of having a police force is? Secondly, of course the judicial system is best navigated by those who are experts in it. Why do you think people go through police training and law school? There is nothing wrong with that.

    Honestly, this situation seems to illustrate one of the big problems I have with today’s youth culture of entitlement, who believe they are so self-righteous and can do no wrong. When really, they just lack of respect for the law and for authority.

    • I stand by the people

      Regardless of whether or not the author was disobeying orders, that in NO WAY gives the police the right to physically hurt her, to neglect to read her Miranda rights or jail her in the manner they did. Yes, she did break free from her friend’s restraint, but AFTER the police shoved her, yelled obscenities at her, etc. She was breaking no law, as failure to disperse is only applicable to groups of 3+ individuals acting disorderly. Her attempt to uphold civic duty and accountability, in asking the police badge number, was met with a completely unreasonable and illegal show of force and violence.

      The problem with megalomaniac power-preserving perspectives like yours is that they don’t acknowledge any possible wrongdoing on the part of the police. Are you even aware of the rampant police torture phenomenon among CPD officers during the past decades? This incident is not excusable by claims of police entitlement to “authority;” it is indicative of a broader culture of repression of individuals’ rights and civic accountability. Which, for the record, is not a manifestation of “today’s youth culture of entitlement,” but rather, a larger movement that has been working to stop abuses of the law and authority longer than today’s youth have even been in existence.

      • mark

        I stand with the police on this as well. The author needed to obey the orders of the police especially after they explained that the paramedics had everything under control. The author seems a bit self important if not down right silly. Did she really think that CPD paramedics NEEDED to stop work on the patient to listen to her insipid blather about having a first aid certificate? (I’m not a doctor. But, I did stay in an Holliday Inn Express last night…)
        I feel for the police and fire responders who had to put up with her.

    • Jonathan Gleason

      “The author did not . . . is absurd.” — Oh, so it’s okay to physically hurt someone under arrest, even when they’re not resisting? Hmmm.

      “Furthermore, how dumb . . . disobey police orders?” — Not dumb at all. As a matter of fact, I would encourage everyone to never obey a police order without good reason. Why? Well, what if a police offer orders you to kill yourself. I guess you better just obey, right, because to not do so would evidently just be ‘dumb’.

      “If the police . . . you obey their orders.” — Nah, actually you do what might potentially save someone’s life. Even if this “saving a life” mentality is just an incredible manifestation of one’s own naivety, that doesn’t change the fact that you should always stand up and do what you believe is right.

      “How do you think the police . . . disobeying their orders?” — Rationally? Haha, nah, I jest. Pretty much exactly like they did, actually.

      “How else to you think . . . to obey the law?” — How many people do you know that *don’t commit murder* for the sole reason that if they did, they would have to deal with the authority of the police? I don’t know about you, but the people I know don’t commit murder because, you know, that’s like not a very nice thing to do. If you really believe that a police force is needed to ensure that people don’t break the law, then it is you who are naive.

      ” . . . big problems I have . . . culture of entitlement . . . ” — Could you please refer me to the passage where she expresses that she is entitled to something? Maybe I’m ‘dumb’ or something, but I’m not seeing it. You can make the argument all day that she was incredibly naive for thinking that she could actually save someone’s life, but that doesn’t change the fact that she was trying to do what was right (hell, she could have just left the unconscious girl on the dance floor and none of this would have happened) and she was certainly never at any risk for ‘doing wrong [to the victim]’.

      “When really, they . . . and for authority.” — Absolutely. How can you expect one to respect authority after an encounter like this one? I’ll respect authority the day people who have authority utilize it to do good. Even if the police offer sincerely believed that it was in everyone’s best interest for Crystal to back off, it is absolutely ridiculous to believe that handling the situation the way he did was the right way to go about it. Indeed, it seems that if he had been more reasonable and calm Crystal would have listened to his instructions and not gone back to ask for his badge number, in which case none of this would have happened.

      This probably goes without saying, but I’m going to say it anyways (because it’ll make me feel good): go fuck yourself.

      • student

        Agree with everything Gleason just said.

        “She was not responding to verbal or physical stimuli, which suggested alcohol poisoning.” Typical UChicago thinking they know more than they do.

        I also agree this is terribly overly dramatized. I also bet she was considerably drunk.

      • David Tian

        Excellent response by Jonathan. I was thinking the same things when I read this dumbass’s comments, but couldn’t have said it better myself.

        The last line of Jonathan’s comment was just icing on the cake!

    • Your Argument Makes Zero Sense

      If you are the first responder on the scene, it is important to give all the relevant information that you know to the paramedics when they show up, because it saves them time and helps them respond faster to the victim’s needs. If that means trying to get past an unreasonable officer, so be it, because the victim is more important. Also, limiting your own liability is also essential, given how often people are sued today. Neither of those two things have to do with youth entitlement. Also, to be physically hurt when simply trying to give potentially vital information to paramedics about the victim’s condition surely falls within the definition of police brutality.

      If you had information that could help save someone’s life, and a police officer told you to go away, would you just leave? Because that is what your suggesting is the best course of action.

  • Class of 2012

    I have never had an experience quite like yours, but after filing a police report for criminal sexual assault, the detective told me, “You know, you could have put up a better fight” as his parting remark. While a different sort of experience, I think it stems from a similar culture of…well, I feel a bit bad saying this…but hubris.

  • Janet

    I would not be surprised if “I stand by the police” was the CPD’s pathetic attempt to make themselves look better. For whoever that poster is, I suggest you learn how to read, and perhaps the next step beyond that would be to learn how to critically think. Let’s not throw around the word “dumb” here when you didn’t even properly read the article.

  • I stand by the facts.

    I had to file a report after being mugged last year and I can relate to just how insensitive police officers can be- especially the CPD. Crystal, thank you for having the courage to share your experience, and don’t let anyone make you feel like you were to blame.

  • Crl

    What was the name of the judge?

  • Class of 2013

    As someone who also had to sit in a bleak jail cell for 5 hours, not speaking to a soul and having no idea when I’d get out of that hell-hole, I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. With very few exceptions, all the cops I encountered were cold and authoritative, and most of the small exchanges I had with them had a condescending bite to them, which is really not something you need when you’ve been on the verge of tears since the arrest. And I DID break a law – being arrested for having the audacity to challenge CPD authority (after trying to help someone!) is horrendous, and yet sadly unsurprising. Like you said, police culture breeds hubris, and so many officers seem to revel in intimidation. And the entire justice system is just too happy to reinforce it.

    I’m sorry for what you went through, and I’m glad that it turned out alright given the circumstances. The justice system is incredibly corrupt, misguided, and shielded from the repercussions from their actions, so it just perpetuates itself indefinitely. A lot of change needs to take place, and it will be hard as hell, but it can’t be ignored forever.

    • Minor correction

      Sorry for the really late response, and I don’t mean to be annoying or nit-picky (and apologize if I am) but I think the word you’re looking for is “authoritarian,” not “authoritative.” Authoritative is usually a good thing, like parents who mete punishment fairly and explain why you are being punished. Whereas, authoritarian would be like ruling with an iron fist.

  • Anon

    Now, is it possible that there is a story that has the police helping a person/solving a crime? Do those not exist, or is our only view on the police that they only do harm to innocent people yet never help the general population by arresting criminals? Oh no, that would make them good people!

    • anon

      Now, is it possible that one does not justify the other? That helping the general population is not a free pass for hubris, misuse of power, and brutality? Oh no, that would make them actually accountable!

      • Dasha Polzik

        Very nice.

    • Jonathan Gleason

      Well, part of the problem is that, in the eyes of the law, this *is* a story where the police help the general population by arresting a criminal.

      This indeed does bring up a serious problem: what makes someone a criminal? In the eyes of the police officer, what Crystal was doing made her a criminal. In the eyes of (most of) us here, we do not see her as a criminal for what she did. Moreover, I would not be surprised in the least if there is something that you think should be a criminal act but I do not, and vice versa. So, who is to decide who is criminal and who is not? Me? You? The police officer? Crystal? God?

      I won’t go into the details of my belief on this issue, but I will say that I am much more scared of harm that can be done to me by police officers than I am by criminals. What can a criminal do? Steal some of your money, maybe put you in the hospital, or maybe just rape you. What can a police officer do? All of that, but unlike with the criminals, there’s a good chance they’ll get away with it. Remember, if you get raped by a ‘criminal’, you’re the good guy, they’re the bad guy, but if you get raped by a police officer, they’re the good guy, you’re the bad guy.

  • Reasonable

    While I’m not going to say “I Stand By the People” is right, he does have some good points. It was stupid to go back to the officer after he warned you that he’d arrest you if you didn’t back off. It sounds like you were at least partly intoxicated too, which makes it even more clear why you were arrested. While just about everything that happened after that point was an example of what is wrong with our criminal justice system, the initial arrest should not have been surprising to you.

    • Dasha Polzik


      • Dasha Polzik

        Dammit, replied to the wrong post. I meant to comment on the post above!

  • AB

    There is a lot of “police-hating” going on here. Not to minimize her story at all, but I would like to point out that while yes, there are arrogant, self-serving, jaded, and frankly just terrible police officers, being a cop is like any other profession or anything in life- there are good cops and there are bad cops. I personally know several cops who would NEVER do anything of this nature. They are dedicated and respectable individuals, and to paint an entire profession based upon a few experiences is a grave disservice to those who truly do “protect and serve.”

    However, the CPD in particular has a terrible reputation for police brutality. Illinois is one of the few states that still has a law that makes it illegal for police officers to be recorded while on duty. Not too long ago, a woman was actually arrested (and sentenced to jail time, if my memory serves me) for attempting to submit evidence of a police officer sexually assaulting her. Why? Because she recorded him on duty. Was he charged for assaulting her? Of course not.

    If we want this sort of thing to change, more will have to be done than just complaining about it. I wonder if Crystal has taken any additional steps to further her case. It seems as if a mass movement, not several individual cases, will be necessary to change anything.

    In the meantime, obey what a cop once told me “I won’t lie to you, some guys [cops] out there are arrogant pricks. But don’t forget they’re arrogant pricks with a gun. When they tell you to do something, you shut up and do it. You can complain to the city later.” This might sound terrible, but I think it illustrates a point- these people are not angels (obviously!). They are people hired to do a job. They carry lethal weapons. If you were in a public area and some guy with a gun at his hip (not uncommon in the south, actually) told you to get the hell out would you hang around to argue with him about how you have just as much as a right to be there as he does, or would you leave? (and call the police later- let them deal with it…) When dealing with cops, you need to exercise caution and protect yourself first. Worry about being a crusader for justice later.

    I think her BA would be interesting to read, on a side note. Good luck, Crystal!

    • words of wisdom

      Great comment. Particularly the advice on how some officers are arrogant pricks, but they have guns. Sad but true!

  • Armchair Anthro

    Welcome to the lamentable state of the real world. I wish I could tell you that interactions like this won’t be common, if less prison-oriented.

    Our education here conditions us to believe most everyone around us is also interested in pursuing truth and justice through understanding the core nature of things.

    We are maladapted for a society that values being right and defaults to ignoring any fact that suggests otherwise. Humans are not wired for truth-seeking, but rather victory by gainsay or force.

    Until we educate all children well enough to snap them out of the animal state, we will continue to have individuals and communities that operate to serve and protect their own narrow interest over true thought and progress.

  • PD

    This is beyond biased and over-dramatized. You were warned to back off. The lesson you should have learned: next time, back off. You were not abused in anyway; you were simply arrested at which point you became belligerent.

  • niq

    I was at a party a couple of years ago at a friend’s house when a couple got arrested for being belligerent and out of control. Those people claimed the same “police brutality” that this girl is claiming – only difference was that I saw the whole thing (through sober eyes). They were not beat up or physically restrained unnecessarily – when you’re dealing with a drunk, pissed off person, you have to take steps to protect yourself.

    That’s exactly what happened in that situation, and I’m willing to bet it’s what happened in this one as well. It’s 6am and the author is out celebrating a 22nd birthday – pretty sure her “certified first responder” qualifications were not also absorbed after shots Heiny’s and shots of Patron. Her drunk ass should have just set back and let the sober professionals handle the situation.

    And one last thing – the author cannot complain about unfair treatment against her and simultaneously benefit from it. She presented nothing in the article about facts of the case that showed she really was not at fault, only that her lawyer knew the ins and outs of the court system and got her acquitted via some sort of magic trick.

    The tongue lashing the judge handed down was the most lenient punishment you could have received. Be happy that you are an intelligent young person at a good school – although you left all details out of the trial, I’m sure your lawyer pandered this to the court and had a hand in your verdict.

  • Ridiculous

    I think anyone who reads this and doesn’t think that in some way these cops are wrong is trying to justify a system that has them brainwashed. Yes, the cop said to back-off but what if this girl did have a back injury and the paramedics needed to know that she was handled the way she was? Walking away would have been amoral and unethical. What if it were a murder? What if Crystal saw the person who murdered her and had information and was told to back off? Should she just leave? Additionally, she was doing nothing wrong. Going up and asking for a police officer’s badge number to report him is not illegal considering she didn’t break the line, she just got very close to it. The cop was not willing to succumb to reason and because of this she was punished. This isn’t a “simple arrest” and people shouldn’t pretend like our system isn’t class-ist, sexist and racist. I don’t wish bad on anybody but I do want people to realize the extreme inequalities in our system — like how a white CEO can embezzle millions of dollars and get a few years in “prison” but a poor black man can steal $100 from a bank and get 10 years — and that the people who hold the guns (some of them at least) are jerks. Just bullies with big boy toys.

  • Mr Marcus

    I’ve often described my experience as Kafka-esque.

    grow a pair

  • You have described only the tip of a very large iceberg. I am a U of C alumnus and a former Maroon photographer. I have experienced the same thing about 40 times in the last 10 years, winning my cases pro se about 30 times, having 6 bogus cases still pending in the same courtroom you went to.

    It is amazing I am still alive having been beaten by police, medically neglected (I am disabled and vulnerable), having been wrongfully convicted once of felony battery of an officer after the officer attacked me in my wheelchair by grabbing my neck and attacking me, skinning his shin when the w/c rolled back, he stumbled and skin his shins on the footrests, then he falsified his records, charged me with battery of an officer for “bumping him” (automatically upgraded to felony battery as he was an officer), committed perjury at trial and I was sentenced to 2 yrs in prison after this felony conviction destroying my life.

    In prison I served six months and a year of parole and I am still appealing. I was tortured in horrible indescribable ways, medically neglected, medically battered, defamed, and they still are falsely arresting me, increasingly so, for suing their colleagues (two pending civil rights suits in federal court).

    Their favorite tactics are charges of disorderly conduct (for questioning authority), charges of resisting arrest (for questioning authority – twitching when being cuffed is resisting – and I always twitch as I have tremors), battery to an officer (I was even arrested for this when a piece of paper in my hand brushed an officer’s bullet proof vest – also they will stand in front of my walker – push it gently and then arrest me for battery – two of these charges are pending), as well as assault (for telling the officer I will kick her ass in federal court – she wrote I said only that I would “kick her ass” and she “feared a beating”), as well as trespass to state supported land or simple trespass (only in court buildings surrounded by ten officers and with witnesses pushed far away).

    Please feel free to read the details at,, and I could really use some help from the law clinics, although representing myself I have won over 25 cases, bench and jury trials as well as with pre-trial motions, been convicted of the one battery case and 8 cases of criminal contempt for telling the judge that they were violating the law (two overturned with appellate court so far – pro se, and one vacated by the judge after he held the sentencing hearing in the lock-up (violating the Sixth Amendment right to public trial).

    I have six cases still pending in the same courtroom. At present I am waiting to turn myself in on six warrants for arrest because instead of going to the last hearing, after Judge Chiampas ruled, because I was sick and went out into the hall and was not in courtroom when my name was called, she had be arrested and then ordered my motions to dismiss the case for a speedy trial violation and to compel the witnesses to comply with subpoenas stricken with prejudice as a sanction for not being in the courtroom (a violation of Sixth Amendment right to compulsory process and Speedy trial and Fifth Amendment right to due process), as well as ordered that I must go to trial on April 29, 2012 (without defense witnesses add despite speedy trial being blown away), and there would be no continuances. Therefore, I went to the Canadian consulate to ask them for protection and assistance due to this gross vioaltion of law. They are writing officials asking them to investigate if the law is being violated, but the court just laughted at this.

    I had previously complained to the FBI and US Attorney who told me these are civil matters and to the IL police who just laughted.

    I have written six habeas petitions to be filed after I surrender in a few days with attachments as to why the charges are legally insufficient and the cases void, also due to the judges having twice either denied my motions for substitution of judge (SOJ) stricken, after hearing them without transferring them to another judge, which is illegal and voids all their future orders, or because the judge ordered the motion for SOJ for cause stricken. I have been convicted of criminal contempt for filing a next-friend habeas petition as a non-attorney and then telling the judge that declaring this act illegally because I was not an attorney is a vioaltion of the Constitution, US Supreme Court rulings and IL law, was a crime, and sentenced to 16 mo in jail for saying this SUMMARILY, with no trial! I really need some help here.

  • Anonymous

    Surely the author had friends at this party. Were there not sober people who could give a clearer account of what happened outside the party? From a purely journalistic standpoint, you should seek out as many witnesses as possible, and that’s particularly true given that the author/victim/star witness was drunk.