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by Janet C. Phelan
Monday, May. 30, 2005 at 5:40 PM
email@example.com (310) 755-4469 P.O. Box 2941 Venice, CA 90294
The third in a series concerning targetting of the homeless.
Edward Archuleta had been having a very difficult time. A series of personal catastrophes had resulted in his living on the streets of Santa Monica, where three weeks ago he was brutally assaulted and taken by paramedics to UCLA, where he was diagnosed with a concussion. His head had been split open by his assailant, and had been stitched back up.
The severity of the attack left Archuleta unable to walk. He took up residence in the parking lot at 7th and Colorado, next to the supermarket and Denny's. A well-spoken and painstakingly polite man in his fifties, he was simply waiting out his recovery period, and attempting to let himself heal.
Locals were bringing him food, although he never asked for assistance. On May 25, Archuleta was huddling under an overhang behind 1537 7th Street in Santa Monica, in the alley. A young black man, a resident in the apartment bulding at the above address, camd downstairs, picked up Archuleta and threw him across the alley. The older man sustained abrasions and lacerations.
A couple who had been shopping a Von's witnessed the attack and called 911. The paramedics arrived first. They took a look at Archuleta's leg, which was bloodied from this attack, and started to leave without offering any assistance whatsoever.
I waved them back. I informed the two paramedics that Archuleta was already inured from a previous assault and could not walk very well. I requested that he be supplied with something to clean off his new wound. The paramedics offered him betadyne and a sanitary wipe,then piled into their truck and left.
Shortly thereafter, two of Santa Monica's finest arrived on the scene. The assailant was located in his apartment, and was summoned downstairs. The first officer recorded identifying information from the assailant, and Officer Bucharski then began to "question" Archuleta.
Archuleta stated quite clearly that he wished to press charges. Bucharski's "interrogation" quickly changed his mind.
Bucharski was overheard stating that Archuleta was responsible for being attacked. The officer "explained" to the victim that "it always takes two" and Archuleta, who did not even know his attacker, could easily be arrested as a co-combatant. Furthermore, Bucharski began to demand Archuleta rise and walk a line, to prove to the officer that he was not intoxicated. Because of the first attack, Archuleta can barely walk at all.
The tall, muscular officer stood over the crumpled, diminished form of a bruised and bloodied man and "explained" to him that he could easily have him taken in.
At the end of the "assistance" offered by Bucharski, Archuleta stated he no longer wished to press charges.
Bucharski strolled back to the group of people who had witnessed the attack. "He can't walk because he's been drinking," he told us. He was again informed of the nature o the previous assault, but Bucharski insisted on relating his difficulty ambulating to alcohol consumption.
He re-summoned the paramedics. Archuleta was taken by ambulance to the V.A., where he was treated and released.
The above report was posited with the Santa Monica Police Department on March 28. I had contacted Watch Commander Joseph on March 26 to file a complaint against Bucharski, whose badge number is 3212. I relayed to Joseph that Archuleta, prior to being transported to the hospital, stated he had been intimidated by the officer, and did not wish to file charges against his assailant because of the perception of intimidation by Bucharski. Sergeant Joseph informed me that I could not make a complaint because I was not the victim.
Lt. Lowe on the night shift had a different take on the complaint process, and suggested I return to the SMDP at my convenience.
On March 28 I arranged a meeting with Sergeant Graham. We met on the lawn at City Hall, and I handed him the above report. He asked some questions about the incident.
When I informed him I had handed the above report to others, he made note of the two organizations I mentioned as recipients. He appeared frustrated when I declined to name the attorneys who also had the report.
At one point in conversation wtih Sergeant Graham I used the term "hate crime" to describe the attack on Archuleta. Hate crimes carry a different weight than crimes of passion, and usually indicate a longer sentence.
Graham expressed consternation at how I arrived at the designation of this attack as a "hate crime."
While I recognize that I cannot comment on the internal machinations that compelled the attacker to thrown a stranger across the alley, there are aspects to this situation that are redolent of a hate crime.
1) The assailant and the victim were not in any kind of relationship, thereby casting doubt that this could be termed a "crime of passion."
2) Archuleta is easily identified as homeless--his appearance, his behavior (residing in a parking lot), etc., all indicate he is a homeless person.
Graham attempted to asssure me that "homeless are not hated." That is neither true nor false. Some people feel antipathy toward this group of people and some do not. Graham pointed to the groups of homeless at that very moment lunching on thelawn at City Hall. He asked, "What other city feeds homeless people at City Hall?"
I reminded him of the "anti-public feeding" ordinance, which has been the subject of a law suit, the "anti-toothbrushing" law and the "anti-vehicular sleeping" law, all of which target behaviors engaged in by homeless individuals. Graham then stated I was getting "far afield." I reiterated that a person's perceptions towards groups of people are an individual matter.
Rhetorically, if a homeless man had thrown a resident of Santa Monica across an alley would the police have handled this in the same manner?
And if this could be classified as a hate crime, was it effectively sanctioned by Bucharski's behavior?
I have been informed that this will be turned over to Internal Affairs.
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