Friday, August 31, 2007

Interracial Couple Harrassed by Neighbors

By Mary Shelton

Lynette Weaver and Larry Stapleton moved to Hemet hoping to live a peaceful life with their children. Instead, what the interracial couple said they have experienced is an ongoing harassment campaign against them by several of their White neighbors.

The couple took their complaints to the Riverside County Sheriff's Department's Hemet station and instead of receiving assistance, the couple said they received even more harassment from deputies and supervisors assigned to that station.

Weaver and Stapleton have been living in their home in Hemet since 2004 with their children. She is White. He is Black. Together, they are the only interracial family on their street but did not have any serious problems where they lived until several neighbors moved onto the street within the past year. Problems, they said, continued, even as deputies not only told them there was nothing they could do to help them but who, they claim, harassed them.

"The sheriff's department doesn't want to talk to our witnesses," Stapleton said, "Not ever."

This behavior allegedly increased in intensity after the couple filed citizen complaints against several deputies which were sent to the department's administrative headquarters in Riverside. The couple had received a letter after filing their complaint that it was being investigated by supervisors working at the same station that staffed the deputies under investigation on the complaint.

At one point, Weaver said, a deputy had told her that he would find whatever he could to get her. When Weaver complained about this to the Captain, she said that he admitted that it happened but the Deputy had taken it a different way.

"How else could you take it," Weaver said.

Now, Weaver sits in jail in Banning separated from her husband and children and facing 15 felonies of perjury, offering false evidence and preparing false records in relation to what she said were temporary restraining orders she had filed against her neighbors. According to Weaver and Stapleton, these individuals had harassed them and used racist slurs in their presence. Several interactions with their neighbors were documented by the couple, including through audio recording. However, the judge who heard Weaver's restraining order case was not interested in listening to or considering any of their evidence.

Stapleton said through a phone call last week that Weaver was arrested after deputies showed up at their residence one evening, allegedly because one of their cars was illegally parked in the street.

He had asked the deputies who arrived what had happened and they had said, nothing and Weaver was told to put his hands behind his back by the deputies. He was taken away by deputies. Stapleton's teenaged son was also arrested for allegedly making a terrorist threat and taken to the southwestern county's juvenile facility.

The van was impounded by sheriff deputies, Stapleton said, leaving him without a viable way to travel from Hemet to the Southwestern Justice Center where Weaver was arraigned on Aug. 10. Her bail was set by a judge at $25,000.

The Riverside County District Attorney's office confirmed that a case had been filed against Weaver but said that no prosecutor had been assigned to the case and probably would not be until the preliminary hearing was held. It is currently scheduled for Aug. 22. The office could offer no further information on the case.

Attempts to reach the Riverside County Sheriff's Department's Hemet station were unsuccessful.

A representative contacted by telephone at the Riverside County Sheriff's Department's administrative headquarters in Riverside was unable to provide a contact phone number for the Hemet station since the transfer of Bernie.

In several interviews, the couple related encounters they had with the deputies from the Hemet Station including several incidents when they had called the station for assistance.

In one incident on May 3, the couple said that a neighbor driving a car across the street backed into their own car while their children were inside of it. Weaver said the sheriff deputy came out but wouldn't help them and told him he didn't believe the neighbor had done it even though the color of paint on their car matched that of the car that allegedly hit them.

However, later that month when the neighbor said that Stapleton threw a rock at the neighbor's car, the Hemet deputies sent that case to the Riverside County District Attorney's office where it was filed as a misdemeanor.

An incident occurred, Weaver said, when racial slurs were spraypainted on their property. The sergeant came out and said that nothing could be done about it because it was not a crime.

Weaver has filed small claims cases against the neighbors and won them. One of the cases, she said, was selected to be taped on the "Judge Judy" show and is due to be aired in several months. Weaver and Stapleton had received an autographed photograph from the celebrity judge after they had filmed the episode. They believed the neighbors continued to harass them because they were upset about losing the case.

Still, the harassment continued, said the couple.

In response to the harassment, Weaver said she had filed several temporary restraining orders on the neighbors.

Weaver said that police officers from the Hemet substation continued to harass her and her husband after they came looking for a signature on a proof of service on a temporary restraining order she had filed against her neighbor. They compared signatures by the woman who signed it and they were similar, but then they went over to Weaver and asked her for her copy. They returned four hours later with the documents, with an additional page attached to it with the word "fraud" on it.

The night after that, a police car showed up in front of her residence and shone a spotlight on it. After her husband went outside, the car reversed and left the street. Not long after that, Weaver was arrested.

The couple has reported these incidents to other agencies including the state attorney general's office and the Department of Justice, they said.

Stapleton is frustrated by the experiences he and Weaver have gone through as the only interracial couple on their street in Hemet and he recalled all the deputies, squad cars and helicopter which had come to his residence the night they took Weaver away.

"All this to arrest a girl on false charges," Stapleton said, "It just makes no sense."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think that they are in an ungodly situation and need to leave that town and go somewhere where they can live decent not with a bunch of ignorant police officers and fools that wants to make there life unjoyful because they are a interracial couple because a good strong black man is mating with a good white woman, some of the idiots can't stand