Indianapolis Woman Alleges Brutal Police Beating That Caused Miscarriage

by Cara on August 31, 2010

in bigotry, courts, human rights, law enforcement, misogyny, patriarchy, pregnancy, race and racism, reproductive justice, violence against women and girls, women’s health

Trigger Warning for descriptions of police violence and forcible miscarriage, as well as discussions of racism and victim-blaming.

LaDonna Dixon claims that last June, an Indianapolis police officer beat her severely after she argued with him — even though she was in handcuffs, and even though she says that she told him she was pregnant at the time. As a result, she received two black eyes, numerous other bruises, and miscarried her pregnancy shortly thereafter at the jail processing center, after being refused medical treatment. (Note: links contain graphic images of Dixon’s injuries.) Local NBC affiliate WTHR reported on the alleged assault a month and a half ago, but wider dissemination of a local television report has produced new interest. From the WTHR report:

An Indianapolis woman is suing the city in federal court. LaDonna Dixon claims the officer beat her so severely during an arrest that she had a miscarriage.

“[He was] punching me, kicking me, after he maced me,” Dixon said.

“This person was angry, was enraged and just beat her,” said Dixon’s attorney, Everett Powell. “I would say it’s a crime.”

LaDonna Dixon is suing the city over what she claims happened in her yard last June. She says she was helping a friend who collapsed from a seizure and needed medicine.

When police arrived, the complaint says Officer Scott Childers told Dixon she was disrupting emergency crews and that she needed to get in her house.

Dixon admits she argued with Childers, but says that’s when the officer turned violent.

“He says I was resisting arrest, but I don’t see how I’m resisting when I’m already handcuffed and maced,” Dixon said.

Dixon claims that the beating continued even after she told the officer she was three months pregnant. She says she miscarried at Marion County’s arrestee processing center, just hours after her arrest.

“She was beaten so bad that she passed out,” Powell said. “She was hemorrhaging directly after getting beaten like this.”

Dixon says she was refused medical attention at the jail.

Police officers should never enact violent assaults against the citizens they are hired to protect. They certainly shouldn’t enact them as a response to a citizen’s supposed audacity to verbally disagree with them. That “talking back” is what apparently prompted the officer’s outrage and beating shows the extent not only of police authority and power, but also of the expectation that this authority and power will not ever be questioned.

It’s unclear what, exactly, Dixon was being arrested for, but it’s only relevant inasmuch as the arrest itself may have been another act of corruption. What is known is that the kind of beating Dixon endured is never acceptable, and especially not once it is taken into consideration that Dixon was handcuffed and on the ground at the time of the beating. Even if Dixon had been neither restrained nor pregnant at the time of the assault, it would have still been monstrous. That she was apparently both only makes the facts all the more egregious. The assault was not only an act of violence against a woman, it was an act that also showed a deliberate and specific disregard for her health as a woman.

The video makes clear that Dixon is still deeply mourning the loss of her pregnancy. The miscarriage of a wanted pregnancy is always a tragedy, but a violent, forcible miscarriage is an even more profound trauma. With his alleged actions, Officer Scott Childers decided to override LaDonna Dixon’s bodily autonomy and make her reproductive decisions for her. With his fists, he took control not just of her body but also of her reproductive life.

Dixon is a black women, and so there is little doubt regarding the perpetuation of racist state violence in this case. The fact is that there is a long, continuing history of police violence against communities of color, especially black communities. I do not doubt for a second that a white women — and especially, a white middle-class woman — would not have suffered the same fate under otherwise identical circumstances.

I do not need to know the alleged assailant’s race (which is currently unknown) to make that assertion. As I’ve said before (and as many others have said before me), racism isn’t just white people being mean, or even cruel or violent, to people of color. Racism is bigger than that. It’s the structures that makes such violence easy and acceptable. It’s the structures that keep non-white people disproportionately poor. It’s the social attitudes and structures that keep reinforcing that people of color are lesser people than white people. Structures like the law enforcement system as a whole. Racism is bigger than any individual person. And while white people are the most culpable for upholding racist systems, they’re not the only ones who can and do actively participate in them.

In response to all of her claims and their wider implications, LaDonna Dixon is not exactly receiving unconditional sympathy from the pubic. She is, largely, being treated like a rape victim. No, I don’t mean that she’s being treated with sensitivity and compassion and tenderness. I mean that in comment sections across the interent (trigger warning) she’s being treated like a liar who made the whole thing up. A liar who should have come forward sooner if all of this really happened. A liar who just wants money. A liar who was never even pregnant, and certainly never really believed she was one way or the other. A liar who is black, and therefore deserving of racialized scorn, slurs, and stereotypes, who must be a liar, because just look at the color of her skin. A liar whose boyfriend probably beat her up, anyway, and yet is still not a victim. A liar who is incapable of being genuinely victimized.

I’ve written before about how many women — all women, really, but marginalized women most of all — are viewed in our culture as unrapeable. Women like LaDonna Dixon — and women like Duanna Johnson, for that matter, whose on-duty assailant just pleaded guilty after his first trial resulted in a hung jury and is likely to receive less time than lots of individuals do for drug possession — are apparently similarly unbeatable. So repulsive just by being who she is that she is seen as not worth anybody’s time to beat, and certainly not worth getting all upset about if she was. She’s perceived by countless misogynistic, racist bigots as simply unable to be abused, because any abuse committed at her doesn’t matter.

It’s these attitudes that make assaults like this alleged one possible. It’s these attitudes that makes them absolutely guaranteed to be committed again.

via radicallyhottoff

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{ 5 comments }

1 Jenna September 3, 2010 at 2:09 pm

This story not only reiterates how women, especially marginalized women, are treated, but it shows how out of control law enforcement is.

To quote Ice-T, “Fuck Tha Police”.

I hope this lady sues the streets off that city.

2 Gaza Don 1 OH!! September 7, 2010 at 8:56 pm

That’s some bullshit! we as a people need to stop letting these corrupt cops keep doing these things to innocent people.So what if! she was talking back that doesn’t mean you have to beat the women quite or guy this is fucking stupid!

3 Michelle September 10, 2010 at 11:33 am

Cara,

I have something important to add to your post titled ‘And Yet Again I Ask: What The Fuck Is Wrong With People?’ dated back in 2008.

Comments are closed but I feel as though every person involved in that post had missed the point in regards to sentencing processes. Effectively, this meant that the bulk of the comments laid blame on the courts/judges in imposing a lenient sentence, when in fact it should lay with the legislature.

For example, in 2003 there was major reform in the WA state sentencing laws, which was intended to provide ‘truth in sentencing’. What it did however, had no practical effect on the length of sentences, but it allowed the community an easier understanding of what time a prisoner would spend in custody (as opposed to early release orders, or parole). So in fact, in the Farmer case (Albany man that had beaten his partner’s 3 year old to death), Justice Heenan was forced by the legislation to reduce Farmers sentence by six years and eight months – a one third reduction on the maximum penalty (20 yrs).

If you read the case you would know that Justice Heenan reduced the sentencing ‘with regret’. I guess you might also like to know then that a new bill has been passed by WA Parliament in an effort to remove this standard one third discount and return discretion to the courts.

Hopefully, once this amendment commences we will see much higher custodial sentences for offences of this magnitude.

4 Katrina September 10, 2010 at 12:52 pm

This is one of those stories that make me wonder why. Was it her race? Was it her gender? Was it her weight? Was it her assertive personality that society doesn’t allow women to possess? Was it a power trip with a long trail of injuried civilians in its wake? How could the processing center ignore the blood and lost fetus of a misscarrage and still deny care to an injured person?

And the list goes on indefinately.

No human being should be brutalized and left for dead like Dixon. The fact that the cop didn’t care about her pregnancy is just too disgusting for words. The processing center is no better for ignoring her injuries after her arrival. I think the staff at the center is just as responsible for the missage as the cop and the center should be held responsible for endangering Dixon’s health by denying her medical care. Dixon may have lived, but miscarriages induced by violence are not safe for the mother. They truely didn’t care if Dixon lived or died. She was just a pile of paper work to them and the police department needs to insure that this never happens again. The baby was lost, but they didn’t have to place the mother in a position were she could have been lost as well.

There is no excuse for this level of police brutality to be ignored for nearly a year. Not only because a woman lost a baby she wanted to keep and was then denied follow-up care for her own health and safety, but because this happened as part of an illegal arrest. Dixon’s friend was essentually dying on her lawn and it is perfectly legal for a friend or family member to ride in the ambulance in case of an emergency. The cop had no right to deny Dixon access to her friend or the ambulance, only the EMTs can determine who does or doesn’t go in there ambulance. If Dixon was just a good samaritan, it’s common to step out of the way and let the EMTs do their thing. But when you can tell the EMTs about the person’s medical history, what the person was doing right before the emergency, ect. you are being helpful.

Since I’m trained for CPR and emegency first aid through my job, this case hits a soft spot. Not only was a wanted pregnancy aborted against the mother’s will in a violent manner, but the attacker didn’t even see a minority female as incapable of being anything other than an obstacle in the way. I don’t know if he wouldn’t let Dixon aid the EMTs due to sexism, racism, both, or just a general shitty opinion of anyone who isn’t a cop, but even without the brutality and loss of pregnancy Dixon’s arrest was still illegal and nothing more than a way to put the ‘uppity-minority/female/whatever-he-saw’ in her place.

Police brutality plagues many police forces and is sad in a way. Not evey cop would beat a woman until she loses her baby. In fact, the majority of cops nation wide are decent human beings. If the badge would stop protecting every single cop and put effort into weeding out the bad cops who work for the force so they can legally attack/rape/humilate/ect. marginalized people, the bad PR would cool down.

I don’t know why cops who are this off the handle aren’t fired immediately and arrested themselves. Until bad cops lose their immunity to the law and are actually tried and sentenced for there bad behavior, the entire police force will continue to look like power-drunk tyrants. No chain is stronger than it’s weakest link, and the police force (and other officals) need to come to terms with that fact.

I know this article is mainly aimed at the loss of reproductive rights, victum blaming, and making Dixon unable to be abused. I also know those are very important issues that are swept under the rug or never acknowledged in the first place. But the source in this case comes from glorifying anyone in a uniform and treating every officer as if wearing the badge makes him/her honorable. If the ‘badge’ as a united entity of people admit that none of their members are intitled to that respect by default and every individual member has to earn that respect over time and through action, then cases like this would begin to decrease.

Dixon never should have gone through that ordeal and her first legal complant should not have been tossed out. Dixon’s justice is well over due and the cops have to clean out their ranks to make sure nothing like this happens again. I’m not anti-cop in general, I just hate assholes who use the uniform of a police officer to get a personal power high. That needs to stop now.

5 speedbudget September 13, 2010 at 8:18 am

I think it’s important to note that it doesn’t matter if she wanted the baby or not. Even if she had an appointment for an abortion scheduled for two hours later that afternoon, what happened is equally as egregious and wrong. It’s important to keep in mind that whether she did or didn’t want the pregnancy, her bodily autonomy was negated.

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