As a graduate of Clark Atlanta University, and Atlanta native, I’ve been around APD my entire life. I’ve seen and heard some of the things they’ve done, such as the killing of 92 year old Kathryn Johnston and experienced that trauma first hand with the killing of my college teammate, Jamarion Robinson .
Over the weekend I found out another college friend of mine was assaulted, this is a first hand retelling from Victoria Webb:
“I haven’t actually slept in days. I’m hoping writing this all out will clear my head enough to allow for it.
When I woke up on Sunday, February 17, 2019, I was looking forward to a pretty fun day. My boyfriend’s little cousin — and one of my closest friends — Giovanna was visiting for the weekend and wanted to go to one of her favorite restaurants so we could all talk and catch up. She’d made a 2:30 reservation — late enough for us to attend the 1pm church service at Buckhead Church because she makes it a point to go every time she’s in Atlanta. My son, who spends every Sunday with his father, left just a bit later than normal that day so we were running late and decided to head straight to Red Pepper Taqueria instead. Despite arriving ahead of our reservation, the friendly hostess walked us past a vibrant party of around twenty AKPsi fraternity members to a booth near the restrooms in the back of the restaurant. Just about every table around us filled over our time there and we ate tacos, laughed, and talked. It was the first time the three of us had hung out in a long time.
All three of us being Texas natives, we’re known to get a bit boisterous. We often find ourselves reminding one another to quiet down a bit. Toward the end of our lunch we broached a somewhat sensitive subject. My boyfriend, Steven, yelled at me — something he never does — and I began to cry. I remember Giovanna telling me that I was loud and trying to adjust my tone but even still, I must’ve continued being louder than I realized because we’d gained the attention of a neighboring table. Two women sat there, a couple of hours into their bottomless mimosas, and began to point, laugh at, mock, and discuss us. Loudly. I’m fiercely overprotective of my family so I set out to defend us against their impoliteness. I got up from our table — accidentally knocking over my completely full drink — and proceeded across to theirs. I sat down with them and asked calmly, “Is there something I can do for you ladies?” They denied having been laughing at us, feigned offense at the accusation, and were visibly flustered by my willingness to call them out. I suggested to them that they mind their business going forward, and excused myself back to my table where I tried to diffuse the ongoing conversation, my face still stained with tears, my eyes still welling. One of the guys in the party we’d walked past earlier came to my table to commend me for standing up for us — he said he’d heard the women mocking us and believed that it was awful of them as well.
It wasn’t long after that exchange before Tony, one of the restaurant employees, approached our table and insisted we leave. It agitated me, and I hissed at him to make the same demand of the women bothering us. He said he would, but insisted we leave anyway. I’d already packed my food in a to-go container and hadn’t planned on being there much longer anyway, so his request wasn’t particularly bothersome. However, I’d yet to pay for my meal. I told him that I’d be happy to leave once I’d done so. He pulled out his phone and called the police. Admittedly, this upset me. A lot. I hadn’t done anything warranting a call to 911 and I had already agreed to leave. When they brought my check, I threw my debit card in the server’s direction and they ran my card. (I have a reciept via Paypal.) Once I received my card back I immediately got up and headed for the valet stand. I was only interested in going home.
Once I got to the valet, I approached one of the drivers, Tao, and gave him my ticket. I never carry cash, so I didn’t have the two bucks on me and I asked him if there was another way for me to pay him — maybe cashapp, paypal, or zelle. He gave me the email attached to his Paypal account and I sent him $5 while he went to bring my car around. After a few minutes he did, exited my car, allowed me to get in, and closed the door behind me. I immediately put my car in drive. My boyfriend and Giovanna were standing a few feet ahead of us and to the right, in front of the restaurant so they didn’t see me. I planned to pull up so they could get into the car, but before I could do that I looked up and saw a police officer (Officer J. Thurmond) standing there, his hands up as if telling me to stop. Confused, I slammed my car in park and threw my hands up as if to ask “What’s happening?” I saw Tony outside, pointing the police in my direction, and then I began to hear yelling.
This is where things start to get difficult for me to recall. My chest tightened, my breathing became labored — I was having a panic attack. This isn’t usually a huge deal. I suffer from severe anxiety and general depression disorder. I’ve been having panic attacks since I was a teenager, though they’ve happened more frequently as of late because of all of “life’s little stresses.” For a little over a year I’ve been taking daily medication to manage. Lexapro and Wellbutrin once a day since September 2017. From the moment my chest tightened and for the following moments, my head was scattered. I remember being yelled at then thinking, “I need to breathe”. I remember screaming, “Don’t touch me!” and then thinking, “I need to breathe”. Being pulled to the ground and then thinking, “I need to breathe”. My face being dragged across the concrete and then thinking, “I need to breathe”. My hair being pulled and then thinking, “I need to breathe”. I was flailing. I must’ve looked as wily as a landside catfish.
“I need to breathe!”
“I didn’t do anything wrong!”
“Get off me!”
“Get the f**k off me!
“I can’t breathe!”
“Please someone call my mom!”
“They’re going to kill me!”
I’m sure I said more. I’m certain I spewed colorful expletives but every memory I have of that encounter is punctuated by thoughts of “I need to breathe.” None of the at-least-three police officers with their knees in my back listened. “Stop resisting!” They either didn’t understand or simply didn’t care what was actually happening. What is it, I wonder, that makes some people believe that the mere sight of an officers badge negates human nature. It didn’t matter what anyone said or did in that moment. My brain, my body was only interested in one thing: “Breathe, Victoria. You need to breathe. By any means necessary, breathe.”
The next thing I remember is being thrown into the back of the officers SUV. Steven ran to the car and I screamed, terrified of what had just happened — what could happen. “Baby, I didn’t do anything. I didn’t do anything wrong!” I could see the terror on his face and my fear tripled. He yelled back at me, “I know! I know!” My breathing had not improved much and now I was alone in a car with the police officer who’d just caused me a level of fear, pain, and anxiety that I had never before experienced.
I don’t remember much of the car ride to the hospital. I only remember crying, kicking and screaming. I used the little breath I did have at my disposal to berate the officer — probably a bad idea but for me, fear and terror often manifest as rage, and I certainly remember being terrified. We arrived at Grady hospital and I asked where we were. He told me but then, for some reason I never quite figured out, he left the hospital parking lot and parked elsewhere for a few minutes. Soon, we were back at the hospital and two officers (Officers Thurmond and Edie) were dragging me across the parking lot by my arms. I wailed in pain. Then I was handcuffed to a hospital bed and I noticed that I was bleeding.
A nurse came in to see me and I was doubled over, my head between my knees, pulling my curly hair away from my sweating neck, trying frantically to regulate my breathing. Officer Edie, who’d earlier been dragging me, was escorting her. I managed to string together a few sentences between gulps of air.
“No! No! No! I don’t want him here!”
“He hurt me!”
“I didn’t do anything wrong!”
“It was just an argument with my boyfriend!”
She demanded I breathe and I was met with a shocking realization — this woman didn’t care. She was a nurse. She had to know that she couldn’t simply command me to breathe. She did not care. She left me there, handcuffed to a bed in a tiny room, hyperventilating and afraid. Officers, some of whom had either been involved in or nearby my assault peered at me through the window. They laughed. They smirked. They waved. Despite the cuffs, I managed to get close enough to the door to swing it open and call out for help. In response I was strapped to the bed by my feet by Officer Edie and a large older black male officer who I believe was named Cunningham. I couldn’t fathom being any more restricted than I already was. I began kicking and in the process I hit Officer Cunningham. Officer Edie asked him if he wanted to charge me for it and he said no.
“You should! Then I would’ve actually have done something wrong!” I spat back as they walked out of the room. Officer Cunningham turned around, smirked, and waved at me with his fingers like a mischievous child.
After being x-rayed I was informed that my kneecap seemed to have been fractured, and that I’d need to follow up with an orthopedic surgeon the following Friday. My knee was the size of a grapefruit; I had large scrapes and bruises on my face, arms, legs, and back. I was given pain meds, my leg was immobilized, and I was left to sit there until I was moved to the detention tank, and eventually to the Fulton County Jail for booking and intake.
A young-ish officer named Taylor transported me from the hospital to the jail. He asked me general questions about my life and about what had happened: “How old are you?” “How’d that happen to you?” I answered his questions and finally he asked, “Did you really try to hit the arresting officer with your car?” and I felt my entire body turn cold. “What!? Of course not! Who said that?!” He explained to me that I’d been accused of “moving my car toward the officer”. I called them liars. He admitted to me that that wouldn’t surprise him at all. Once we got to the jail, they refused to accept me because I hadn’t been given crutches or a wheelchair. While Officer Taylor waited on more information about what to do next, he pulled off to the side, opened the door and offered me some chips he’d brought along as a shift snack. He said he wasn’t sure when they’d serve another meal there and he knew I was likely starving. As I munched on his pizza flavored Pringles, we made small talk. He told me that not all cops were assholes. In fact, he insisted, most cops weren’t — in his opinion. I told him that given the circumstances, I’d have to agree to disagree. He understood my stance. Soon, we headed back to Grady, retrieved a pair of crutches (a pair that were intended for someone no less than six inches taller than me) and then he returned me to Fulton County Jail.
I arrived at the jail around 2am and was processed in by a nice officer by the name of K. Middlebrooks. She told me she’d celebrated her birthday the day before, she asked about my injury, and she gave me a general overview of what was about to happen. When I told her that my injuries happened at the hands of an APD officer during my arrest, she responded, “That’s what APD does.” I’d soon realize that not many people would be shocked to find out what had happened. The Pre Trial Counselor and the doctor on duty repeated the same sentiment as I saw them. The officer who eventually released me did, too. “APD will arrest you for breathing.”
While I was seeing the intake doctor, officer Middlebrooks asked what everyone had been asking. “Did you try to hit that cop?” I told her I hadn’t. “Would that justify this?” the doctor asked her, genuinely. “Look at her. She’s tiny. Nothing could justify her being slammed to the ground that hard.” Then he looked at me and said “You need to make sure you get a GOOD lawyer. The person who did this to you should not go unpunished.” I agreed. I had similar conversations with several nurses and other officers during my time there.”
We will continue to update you as more details emerge.