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- South Kingstown Police Department Log
- Posts (still up as of 8/28/18) proving SKPD prunes comments in their favor in violation of their own arbitrary rules
James Jordan Frame
- Occupation: Self-employed PC tech & web/graphic designer, consultant, laborer, home-cleaner
- Resident of Rhode Island since end of 2006
- RI-licensed EMT-Basic, license #: EMT17014 expiration 12/31/2018, trained as EMT-Cardiac
- Former children’s bus worker & media technician at Curtis Corner Baptist Church, SK
- Former trainee at Station 3 of the Union Fire District
- Green belt in Shōrin-ryū Shidōkan karate and dedicated martial artist
- Political activist and supporter of civil liberties
A report of unlawful search and seizure, illegal arrest, falsified charges & reports, assault by an officer, unlawful imprisonment & statements taken after arrest without reading of Miranda rights
The events of 7/25/18
On Wednesday, July 25th, 2018, I was napping on the bleachers in the afternoon at the skate park at Old Mountain Field Park, South Kingstown, minding my own business.
At around 3:30pm SKPD officers Jonathan McHugh (badge #35) and Officer Tsagaroulis approached me on bikes as I was walking back toward the bleachers from a brief walk in the woods, to continue resting and watching the skaters.
A CAR SEARCHED AND IMPOUNDED THAT COULD HAVE JUST BEEN MOVED 20 FEET:
I had parked my car directly behind the skatepark as I and many others had done for years, but I didn’t know this wasn’t allowed, as there are legal parking spots on the grass just 20 feet away, where overflow parking for baseball games, etc, is usually open. There wasn’t a “No Parking” sign to indicate I was inappropriately parked, and people frequently park all around that general area. The officers questioned some skaters whose car it was and they pointed me out as I was walking out of the woods from my walk.
AN OFFICER OUT FOR BLOOD:
Officer McHugh was immediately aggressive and confrontational, while Officer Tsagaroulis remained professional and polite throughout the entire encounter. Officer McHugh insisted I was intoxicated and repeatedly demanded “what I was on.”
REASONS I MIGHT APPEAR TIRED:
I was indeed groggy – which was a result of low blood sugar from eating almost nothing that morning, (low blood glucose confirmed by paramedics.) I had also just taken my legally-prescribed anxiety medication after having lost the pill bottle for 2 days, which had caused 2 virtually sleepless nights, along with recurring nightmares about the recent unexpected separation from my wife and the death of our beloved friend. This combination of circumstances could have made me seem a bit goofy, but I was not intoxicated in any way. I joked around a bit, but I was fully oriented, coherent and cooperative.
WHY I WOULD BE A LITTLE GOOFY WITH PUBLIC SERVANTS:
Being a licensed EMT-Basic and trained as an EMT-Cardiac and trained with the Union Fire District briefly, I’m used to dealing with law enforcement respectfully but also treating them like fellow human beings. Unfortunately, Officer McHugh had already discriminatorily profiled me as a stoned criminal and had no interest in a discussion.
RESISTING ARREST AND OBSTRUCTING… WHAT JUSTICE?:
Despite the falsehoods in his police report, I promptly identified myself. I attempted to disengage from the situation by walking away, but Officer McHugh was committed to finding whatever crime he could charge me for, and gladly fabricate a few others. I grabbed my backpack and longboard and turned around to walk to my car, as he had not said I was under arrest or detention, and I figured they would simply want me to move it to a proper space, only 20 feet away.
DISORDERLY CONDUCT… BY AN OFFICER!:
McHugh immediately squeezed my arm painfully tight and forced me to the bleachers, placing me under arrest. At no point during ANY TIME was I read my Miranda Rights.
McHugh slapped handcuffs on me as tight as possible, grinning and brimming with insults and accusations. McHugh called South Kingstown paramedics in an attempt to legitimize his unlawful search and seizure by making it appear that I was too intoxicated to deny their unlawful search, or undue medical attention, to both of which I verbally refused consent.
FORCED INTO MEDICAL CARE WITHOUT CONSENT:
As a medical professional I am aware that patients who are alert and oriented have the right to deny to medical service. I denied medical service verbally, but was coerced to get on the stretcher where I was handcuffed to it.
I denied an IV and all treatment except some glucose gel and a few blood sugar tests, which were low because I had barely eaten that day– a primary reason for my possibly tired appearance, beside lack of sleep and having just restarted my medication after that short break.
UNLAWFUL SEARCH & SEIZURE WITHOUT PROBABLE CASE, VIOLATING THE 4TH AMENDMENT:
McHugh began illegally searching my backpack, and found a tiny marijuana bowl with one bowl pack (I am a four year medical marijuana patient but my card has been expired for 2 months while I wait for the money to renew it,) and 4 unopened beers that I was saving to share at a friend’s house later.
2 MONTHS EXPIRED MMJ CARD… $150 TICKET FOR $2 OF CANNABIS
I was given a civil violation ticket for $2 worth of cannabis, which I hadn’t even smoked for over a week, and an $8 gas station bowl. I use it occasionally and sparingly for chronic pain from a car accident and nausea from an unknown condition, but now the money that could have been used to renew my already-very-expensive medical cannabis card (were I not homeless) will go to pay off the state for something much safer than alcohol and tobacco, and that should already be legal for adults– assuming the traffic court won’t give me a stay to go get my card renewed, which I doubt they will.
UNLAWFUL SEARCH OF MY VEHICLE AND SEIZURE OF LEGAL FIREARMS:
My vehicle was then illegally searched, where my collection of legally stored guns were in the trunk. They were in there for a planned trip to Pine Ridge Shooting Range, where I have shot before. They illegally confiscated 2 rifles, a disassembled shotgun, and two locked cases which they were unable to obtain a warrant or consent to open. All firearms are owned by myself, out of access and view, locked up and unloaded in the back of the trunk.
He gleefully said I would now be charged with felony possession of firearms while intoxicated, but as I knew, the guns weren’t “in my possession,” they were safely locked in my car where they are protected both by RI state law and the federal Firearm Owners Protection Act, nor was I drunk, so I found out in court the following day that the felony charge could not be pursued and only the ordinance violations and trumped up, falsified misdemeanors remained.
FORCED TO THE HOSPITAL DESPITE BEING ALERT, ORIENTED & UNINTOXICATED TO VALIDATE ILLEGAL SEARCH AND SEIZURE:
I was taken against my will and consent to South County Hospital where I ate some food and received a few more blood glucose tests until it was at a better level.
As a licensed EMT-B with Advanced Life Support training who was once going to pursue a career as a Town Firefighter, I am aware that EMS is allowed to give treatment to a patient who verbally refuses consent, but is in such apparent danger or not in an oriented mental state to refuse treatment. Given the fact that I was allowed to refuse an IV shows that I was coherent, and that the Paramedics and hospital staff were aware that forcing one on me would constitute assault.
COERCING A SEARCH OF MY PARENTS’ HOUSE TO FIND BASICALLY NOTHING:
Officer McHugh roughhoused me by my arm again, pulling me to the car when I was already being compliant, and informed me that they coerced my mother into allowing them to search my parents’ home (where I informed them that I do not live, though some of my possessions are stored there) and they were able to find a bit more medical cannabis paraphernalia that I hadn’t even used since my medical card expired.
They lied to my anxious mother, claiming they would be “back at midnight with a warrant” to coerce her into accepting their invasion of my parents’ home, while my dad wasn’t present to refuse this paramilitary-style home invasion. Many possessions were tossed around at my parents’ house, but not nearly as bad as my car, which was left a wreck, my Bible’s pages crumpled up. (Pictures taken.) They also shattered the screen of my Amazon Kindle after removing it from its protective case, one of my few unbroken possessions.
After the hospital I was taken to the South Kingstown police station.
VIOLENT HANDLING OF A COMPLIANT CITIZEN:
The marks on my arms from Officer McHugh’s roughhousing and punitively-tight handcuffing were gone before I could photograph them, as I was detained overnight in the SKPD holding cell.
WHY I RIGHTFULLY REFUSED TO BE BREATHALYZED:
I refused to be breathalyzed because I read a sign in the booking area that said their breathalyzer was malfunctioning and its results not to be trusted. And given that they were already falsely arresting, searching and charging me, I was suspicious that they would somehow falsify the breathalyzer results. For this, I was punitively kept in the dirty holding cell for about 18 hours, despite posing no risk of flight and no prior criminal record.
ILLEGALLY BOOKED AND MUGSHOTTED FOR LATER DEFAMATION:
I was booked, photographed looking rough and tired with my hair down, and fingerprinted, despite having been convicted of no crime, while the arresting officer was able to sleep in his own bed despite falsifying multiple vague and unsubstantiated hearsay charges, roughhousing me, insulting me and my loved ones, escalating a situation that could have easily remained calm and been resolved like adults, and illegally searching my backpack and car only to find my legally owned firearms, beers I hadn’t drunk, and $2 worth of medical marijuana that was only even a civil violation by technicality.
ILLEGAL INCARCERATION AS A PUNISHMENT:
The cell they kept me in for around 18 hours, of course, was purposefully uncomfortable: all-white metal benches with white block cement walls, two glaring noisy lights that are never dimmed, a dirty toilet with no raising seat, where you have to sit on the same seat where you and God-knows-who has peed all over, and a tiny roll of toilet paper– all with a camera watching you at all times, but ignoring you if you call for assistance unless you make a ruckus. Officer Tsagaroulis was kind and communicative and gave me water multiple times before he went home for the night.
DENIED PROPER DOSAGE OF MY MEDS IN A HIGH-ANXIETY SITUATION:
During the night I was unable to sleep for most of the night and denied proper administration of my anxiety medication because the paramedic had given incorrect instructions regarding the administration of my medication. After making a ruckus to get the jailer’s attention because I was deprived of the proper dose of my meds (which were more necessary than ever being that I was anxious, locked in a hard cage like an animal, and wanted only to sleep through the night,) he threatened to put me in the padded room
MCHUGH’S UNPROFESSIONALITY AND PERSONAL BIAS:
Officer Jonathan McHugh’s baseless remarks included that my parents didn’t like me, (despite my father waiting heartbroken for hours in the courtroom the next day to do anything he could to help,) that I was a drug addict, (patently untrue,) that my girlfriend was probably only seventeen years old, (showing his clear bias against me probably based on my long hair.)
While his insults mostly showed his baseless enmity, immaturity and unprofessionalism, they also evinced a clear and baseless bias against me based merely on his assumption that I was some kind of drugged out loser polluting the skate park with my very presence, despite the fact that I’ve frequented this park since I was sixteen with no problems, and that many people park their cars in similar locations behind the park without any problems.
NO SIGNAGE TO INDICATE INCORRECT PARKING:
There is no signage at the park indicating proper parking locations, while the whole long side of the skate park is used almost daily as parking spots for baseball games and other overflow parking.
4TH AMENDMENT IGNORED, A FEDERAL CASE IN THE MAKING:
After my misdemeanor charges are dismissed and other judicial shakedown-penalties paid, I will be seeking legal representation for personal suffering and violation of my 4th Amendment right to security from unlawful search and seizure, false arrest, false police reports, and other crimes at the hands of this renegade officer.
DEFAMATION ON SOCIAL MEDIA:
In their usual manner, the South Kingstown Police Department posted a mugshot, of me looking my worst, with the list of scary-sounding charges reported, of course, as true and legal, because they know that backing down from the false charges would further validate the major lawsuits to come for the various crimes that they and specifically Officer Jonathan McHugh committed.
OH THE HORROR!
The report emphasizes the terrifying facts that I carried (legal) pepper spray, or that my antique Soviet Russian rifle has a functioning bayonet. (Because everyone knows a criminal shooter’s weapon of choice is an unsharpened bayonet!) A “functioning bayonet,” as any veteran would likely agree, would be a SHARPENED bayonet. An un-sharpened edgeless practice knife would not be called a “functioning knife,” would it?
The report fails to mention that the knife I didn’t know I had on me and use only for labor side-work and hobbies is barely over the legal size. (They could have just given me a warning and I would have made sure to leave it at home.)
WELL-TRAINED OFFICER MISSES KNIFE AFTER MULTIPLE PAT-DOWNS:
They also don’t mentioned that the “well-trained” Officer McHugh didn’t locate the penknife for which I was charged on me until a second pat-down AFTER we exited the hospital, but he remarked he was happy to add an additional charge.
LYING TO THE PUBLIC TO DEFAME ME AND EMBARRASS MY FAMILY NAME, REFUSAL TO CHANGE THE POST TO SHOW MY REAL RESIDENCE- NONE:
Despite me informing them that I am homeless, they list my parent’s street as my residence, so as to further humiliate them. When me and others messaged their page to remind them of their listing a false residence, we were ignored and blocked. When I spoke in person to them at the station on late Friday or Saturday, they said the person in charge of the Facebook page wouldn’t be available until Monday, so as of 7/29 9PM the false info remains, to defame not only me but my devastated and blameless family. They also did not return much of my items, including my keys, legal pepper spray, legal penknives, etc.
Despite a signed affidavit that I did not and do not reside at my parents’ house, their address has yet to be redacted from the SKPD Facebook page or the paper, or an apology issued.
SCARED, MISINFORMED CITIZENS ALLOWED TO TOSS TOMATOES ON SOCIAL MEDIA – TRIAL BY FACEBOOK, DEFAMATION:
A flood of posters were free to participate in a trial-by-media and make defamatory and rude comments without knowing anything but the polices’ side of the story, and none of them were removed. Implications that I was a danger to society, that I planned to commit violence with my weapons, that I should be forced into rehab, and that it was incredible that I was released, and that I would probably flee the state were allowed to prolifferate.
BIASED DELETION OF MY AND MY LOVED ONES POSTS TO CONTROL NARRATIVE:
However, when the story reached many of my loved ones and many of them came to say what everyone who knows me would say- that I’m not a criminal or danger to anyone- the majority of the posts were deleted, including my own. The operator of the SKPD Facebook page, who still hadn’t found the time to remove my parents’ address from the defamatory post, claims the posts were deleted because many of them were “using vulgar and obscene language, making personal attacks at civilians and officers and intentionally spreading false information.”
A LITANY OF DEFAMATORY AND INAPPROPRIATE POSTS ALLOWED TO REMAIN:
Jokes about me being FRAMED, (kinda funny, I’ll admit, but also deeply embarrassing,) posts calling others morons, that claimed I was drunk and in possession of firearms, (the felony that was not pursued,) implying my friend should have been aborted, that I was a danger to children, that I won’t be getting my guns back, that my guns WERE loaded, a post calling me a loser, that I’m a walking time-bomb, etc, however, have all been permitted to stay, because apparently they don’t constitute obscene language, personal attacks, or false info.
A CONSPIRACY TO CONTROL THE NARRATIVE… WITH HELP:
Me and friends have collected screenshots of comments before they were deleted, and the defamatory ones that were allowed to remain after. It’s obvious the SKPD prunes their Facebook page selectively to attain a public relations monopoly, with the help of a lot of posters who range from misinformed citizens to what could possibly even be PR monopoly shills- fake accounts that are used to frame the narrative in their favor on social media. Whether this is true or not, the selective pruning of comments and total banning of me and many of my loved ones from posting on the page is an affront to public discourse on a public institution’s page.
1. Obstructing Officer in Execution of Duty
2. Disorderly Conduct
3. Resisting Legal or Illegal Arrest
4. Weapons Other Than Firearms Prohibited
5.Offenses Against Town or City Ordinances
And two civil/town violations:
1. Public drunkenness
2. Possession of about a tenth of a gram ($2 worth) of marijuana that would have been fully legal for me to possess if my expensive mmj card wasn’t 2 months expired after 4 years of being active
-There was no obstruction of justice because I was fully compliant at all times.
-There was no disorderly conduct because the only thing I did was crack a few jokes and give some attitude to a cop that was profiling me as human trash when I was simply poor, homeless, and the recent victim of a sudden heartbreaking separation.
-There was no resisting arrest because the moment I understood I was being arrested or detained, I remained seated and complied with being cuffed and going wherever I was ordered to go.
-The knife I had on me was over 3”, but under 4”. As a part-time blue collar laborer I have carried it on me for years without problems or criminal intent. I thought it was of legal length, forgot it was even on me, and it served me in my work for years without ever once being used illegally.
-There was nothing dangerous or unusual about where I parked and no signage or indication that it was off-limits to park, being only about 20 feet from where people park almost daily for baseball games or over overflow event parking. If I knew I wasn’t allowed to park there, I wouldn’t have, and I won’t do it again.
-I made it clear that I was not drinking or drunk in the park, and there remains no proof of me being intoxicated. What I was, was tired, hungry, depressed, and had just restarted my medication after two days on an empty stomach, leaving me a bit woozy and goofy. The other officers enjoyed my humor at least!
-The marijuana that happened to be in my backpack was about one tenth of a gram, enough for one small ‘bowl pack’- an amount so miniscule that it’s unthinkable that a poor, homeless person, upstanding citizen, and small business owner with no criminal record, no money, ongoing chronic pain, and whose medical marijuana card was only expired by two months for lack of funds, despite being active for four years before that, will be charged an additional $150 ticket when the $2 of marijuana and $8 pipe could have just been confiscated, destroyed, or ignored.
-My car could have easily been moved by family or friends with my permission, but was instead impounded in an additional form of financial punishment that cost $130 and left me without a vehicle for the next two days after I was released from court.
I was illegally arrested, searched, detained, booked, charged, and jailed on nothing more than hearsay and an abusive officer’s hunch that I was intoxicated, when I was merely tired, hungry, and being a little goofy to try to lighten his aggressive demeanor.
Dozens of my items were illegally confiscated and some lost or broken, their values and descriptions laughably misrepresented on the inventory list.
I was leveled with all three of the usual vague charges that are given when no real crime was committed. These charges are false and unprovable, since SKPD refuses to issue body cameras to its officers.
While having barely a dime to my name, I was charged $130 for an unnecessary tow and impoundment, and another $150 for a gas station pipe and chunk of cannabis flower the size of a penny.
I was given a misdemeanor charge for a knife that was barely over legal size and was used only for work purposes. In similar cases a citizen would simply be informed of the law and told to carry a smaller knife.
I was punitively locked in a dirty, hard cell despite there being no reason to consider me a flight risk, and denied the proper dosage of my anxiety medication, resulting in a virtually sleepless night before I was dragged into court the next morning in handcuffs before devastated, stressed family, whose home had been searched the night before for no real reason.
All of these common violations of justice and civil rights are important, and I will be working with multiple activist and legal organizations to see reform brought to the South Kingstown Police Department, as well as appealing to politicians at all levels of government to investigate.
For my own justice, I am seeking a lawyer and help from civil liberties organizations to hold the department or specifically Officer Jonathan McHugh responsible for his abusive and illegal behavior and profiling of me as anything less than a respected and law-abiding citizen.
If you are capable, I ask for your help in pursuing justice in my case, so that further illegal behavior is discouraged. The people of South Kingstown and Rhode Island deserve better.
-James J Frame