If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you may have seen a horrible story on my timeline over these past few days. On early Sunday morning, Sherita Dixon-Cole was pulled over by police in Ellis County, Texas – outside of Dallas.
First she was forced to perform a breathalyzer test. She complied – and passed the test, but was told by the officer that he was going to arrest her anyway because she had a bad attitude.
Let me pause right there for a moment. Bad attitudes are not illegal. This is basically the same thing a Texas officer chose to arrest Sandra Bland for. In that case the cop claimed to pull Sandra over because she failed to put on her turn signal, which was a fabrication, so he needed some other excuse to drag Sandra out of the car, assault, and arrest her.
So, on Sunday morning, even though she passed her breathalyzer test, Officer Daniel Hubbard of the Texas Department of Public Safety, chose to arrest Sherita Dixon-Cole anyway. This was the first sign something was truly wrong in this situation. Thankfully, she was able to call her fiancé, who was able to eventually show up at the scene.
Because we might have kids listening, I won’t get in to specific details, but before her fiancé arrive, the officer first communicated to Sherita that he would be willing to let her go if she performed sexual favors for him, then proceeded to sexually assault her, touching her under her skirt. When her fiancé arrived, the officer asked Sherita if he had a gun, and threatened to kill him if she said anything about what had just happened.
When her fiancé, who I spoke with directly, arrived, he told the officer he was going to follow them to the jail, and the officer told the fiancé that it was illegal for him to do so. The officer lied. The fiancé also confirmed for me that Sherita was handcuffed and strangely placed in the front seat of the police car – which confirmed another part of Sherita’s story.
When Sherita arrived at the jail, she bravely reported to the staff there that she had been sexually assaulted by the officer, but they refused to properly report it and send her to the hospital which is protocol. On her phone call to her fiancé and family she then reported the assault to them. They reported the assault to their personal friend, civil rights attorney Lee Merritt, who actually knows Sherita and her fiancé very, very well – and Lee reported it to me.
Let me say a few quick things. My default position is going to always be to believe black women when they report what has happened to them. I believe Sherita. Secondly, I’ve seen hundreds of cases like this with law enforcement across the country and know that many cops, particularly in the middle of the night, with a woman alone, abuse their power just like Sherita reported against Officer Daniel Hubbard.
Sherita has been released, she did go to the hospital, and is currently in the care of her family. I will keep you updated on the case, but here’s what I know – we only get justice in cases like this when we fight for it ourselves. This system was not designed to protect us – it was designed to punish us – and for it to do anything other than that – we must force it work on our behalf.
Let me close with some good news. Yesterday in Charlottesville, Virginia yet another one of the men that we identified and tracked down in the brutal assault of DeAndre Harris was finally held responsible for his crimes. Dan Borden, of Ohio, one of the most brutal and flagrant attackers of DeAndre Harris, was the first to actually plead guilty. That makes him the third person we tracked down in this case who has been found guilty. He will likely serve 5-10 years in prison.
I’ll close with this thought – as a student of history, it has always grieved me that so many people who maimed and murdered our ancestors were never held responsible for it. When I saw what happened to DeAndre, I knew that if we didn’t track these men down and find them ourselves that it would send the message to other bigots like them that they could do to others what they did to DeAndre and simply get away with it. That’s why it was essential that we identify these men and force the justice system to hold them accountable.
We’re still searching for two more men in the assault of DeAndre Harris and have raised a $50,000 reward for their identification. Listen to me – I’ll search for these men for the rest of my life. Even if we never find them, I want them to know we’re looking, and live with that discomfort every single day.
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