By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
To the white cop who had participated in a raid on a Flatbush home across the street from where Sheretha Anderson and her friend Kelsey Jones were standing on the morning of October 30, both 23-year-old women looked like truants cutting classes.
"Aren't you ladies supposed to be in school?" the bike-riding, uniformed cop who Anderson and Jones would come to know as Officer Bello allegedly barked. "How old are you?" they say he asked. "You look like truant students." The women insisted they were not students, gave their ages, and explained that they were on their way to a doctor's office. When the officer turned his attention to another pedestrian, Anderson and Jones continued walking toward a bus stop.
"Didn't I tell you bitches to show me some identification?" Anderson and Jones say Bello shouted on approaching them. Anderson says that she and Jones were surprised by the cop's outburst. "In disbelief, we started cursing, telling him that he was disrespectful," Anderson recalls.
"Now you're resisting arrest," she charges Bello said. "You're going to jail." According to Anderson, Bello "grabbed Kelsey by the arm and twisted it, and threw her" against an iron gate. Anderson says she and Bello got into a tug of war over Jones. "I tried to free Kelsey, but he was being too aggressive with her." Anderson let go of her friend, and whipped out her cell phone. As she headed back to her apartment to notify her stepfather, Bello radioed for backup.
Anderson says when she turned around she saw several police vehicles converging at the scene. While some cops blocked off the street, two others raced toward her. One of them, Anderson claims, ripped the phone from her hand. Then both of the officers shoved her into a phone booth and "started to handcuff me with a lot of hostility.
"I told them to stop being aggressive with me because I am pregnant," Anderson recalls. But the cops allegedly ignored Anderson and forced her into the back seat of a squad car. She began vomiting. "One of the officers told me to vomit out the window and not in the car," she claims. Upon their arrival at the 69th Precinct station house, Anderson and Jones once more were challenged on their claims that they were in their twenties. A check revealed they had no criminal records.
"When Officer Bello realized we didn't have any criminal charges against us, he took the cuffs off, and apologized for the misunderstanding," Anderson says. "But I felt that the damage was already done, and that an apology was unacceptable. My best friend and I were traumatized by the incident. My wounds will heal quicker, but Kelsey has a sprained wrist and she pulled two muscles in her leg. The 69th Precinct will never heal the emotional pain of two young black women who were assaulted in the street by their cops."
Research assistance: Sarah Park