Michigan medical marijuana patient Constance “Ci Ci” Taylor, 23, says three police officers unlawfully used excessive force in detaining her on Saturday. Taylor, who declined to take a roadside preliminary breath test (PBT), told Toke Signals that her car was illegally searched and her medical marijuana pulled out of her purse, at which time she was arrested.
“This past weekend I was pulled over during a routine traffic stop by the Dowagiac City Police Department,” Taylor, who is of Native American heritage, said. “I called my boyfriend to let him know what was going on and that I wanted a Tribal Police Officer present, and to try to get ahold of them.
“I was asked to step out of the car and was asked to do some general roadside sobriety tests,” Taylor told me. “When asked if I would submit to a roadside PBT, I then exercised my right and declined and told them to get a warrant.
Taylor said she was then searched and arrested on the spot.
“The officers started searching my car and pulled out my medication purse and pulled out my bag of medication,” said Taylor. “I am a state licensed medical marijuana caregiver and patient.
“Keep in mind that I am a 23-year-old woman, and the two officers that pulled me over and searched me were both males,” she said. “A female officer was never called to the scene. I was also never read my Miranda rights.
“I was handcuffed in the back of the squad car and the only way that I would get their attention was to start kicking the door,” Taylor said. “Instead of being asked what I needed, I was immediately tossed and thrown face-first into the ground by the officers.
“I was trying to tell them, one, I wanted my lawyer; two, they did not have the right to search my car without a warrant; three, they did not have my permission to search my car; and four, I was requesting that they call the on-duty Tribal Police Officer.”
Taylor is a small young lady; she’s just 5’7″ and weighs 150 pounds.
“Both officers were taller and bigger than I am,” she said. “During all of this, both my boyfriend and the [police] sergeant showed up on the scene.”
According to Taylor, this is her boyfriend Aaron Horner’s statement:
I received a call from Constance at 2:06 a.m. stating that she was being arrested in Dowagiac and to notify the on duty tribal police officer. On the way there I used my phone to find a number for the tribal police, but couldn’t get to anybody. I called the Cass County Dispatcher and asked for the cell phone number for the on duty tribal officer that night. The number she gave me was for an officer in Hartford, who I passed at the Shell Gas Station on my way. I called it and talked to the officer, informing him that there was a tribal member being arrested in Dowagiac that needed his assistance. He said he was busy and that he would try to find out about it. Later that night when I returned home he was still in the same spot.
I arrived in Dowagiac at approximately 2:30. I didn’t know where Constance was so I drove down Front Street, turned around at City Hall, came back up McOmber, and turned left on Main to check down by Taco Bell. When I arrived on the scene Constance was laying face-down next to the squad car, two officers were on her left and right restraining her against the snow, and the third was directly above her holding her with his leg while his hands were moving around. I pulled my car into a safe spot and ran to the scene.
Constance was continually repeating three things: (1) that she wanted to contact her lawyer immediately, (2) that she wanted a Tribal Police officer present, and (3) that the officers could not search her vehicle as she had never given them permission. Although she was loud and was continually turning her head between the officers; at no point was she physically struggling against them.
I told the officers that the car did not need to be towed, that I could take it away, but they said they had to take it. They completed searching Constance and two officers roughly picked her up and heaved her into the car, face-down and head first. The Sergeant walked over to me at this time and answered several questions about whether I could talk to her or where I could get her. He soon left.
While we were talking, the deputy left with Corey Rangel and the other Dowagiac officer was searching Constance’s car. He emerged with something I couldn’t identify: a large plastic bag with a label and something inside of it. He put that in his car and then left himself once the car was towed.
Ci Ci takes back up the story at that point.
“After the police searched and seized by LEGAL PROPERTY, I was then taken to the nearby hospital for a blood test,” she told me. “While still hogtied to the bed, I kept yelling that I wanted my lawyer. I was never given the opportunity to call him, even after I was booked into the station.
“While being booked, after saying that I wanted to call my lawyer, the officers still continued to ask me questions,” Taylor said. “I refused to answer and walked right into my holding cell.
Taylor woke up Sunday morning quite ill.
“Sunday, I was puking all day and requested medical attention,” she said. “I was denied, along with my passenger that was arrested as well. He was puking up blood and they denied him medical attention, too — although the same officer that denied him had no problem going to get me some Mylanta.
“I tried to explain that I have a medical condition with prescriptions that I need to take daily, and that my boyfriend could bring them to me in their bottles (he had brought me a calling card so that he could keep in contact with me and tro to help, as he knows this),” Ci Ci said. “The officer again told me no, that I was not allowed my medication and that the nurse would not be back until the next morning.
“However, another person who had been brought in and had a broken hand, so the nurse had to get called in,” Taylor said. “I heard the officer tell her I needed medical attention, and she never talked to me. As a matter of fact, I watched her put her coat on and leave.
“When I was released that night on bond, I found out exactly what my charges were,” Taylor said. “They were trying to unlawfully charge me with possession of marijuana, felony resisting and obstructing, and an OWI.
“Like I said earlier, I am a state licensed medical marijuana caregiver and patient,” Taylor told me. “I never resisted them when they put me in handcuffs, and was cooperative with them until they started violating my civil rights.
“On Monday, when I went back to the Dowagiac City Police Department, they denied me my medication,” Taylor said.
Ci Ci posted the video from that visit, along with all of the pictures of her bruises from the excessive force that the officers used against her.
“The force of three full-grown men to hold me down was absolutely unnecessary and unlawful,” Taylor said. I was already detained in the back seat of the squad car; why take me out to throw me on the ground, hogtie me, and then lift me up and toss me back into the car?
“Also, I was denied my right to call my lawyer after asking multiple times,” she said. “I was denied medical attention. I am covered in bruises and I have soft tissue damage. I also am waiting for the results from my x-ray because I may have a fractured hand.”
“Let’s remind them that it is their job to enforce the will of the people!” Taylor said.
“Dear God, they sent three cops to beat up one girl,” commented activist Joe Cain on his Facebook timeline. “I say we educate them on who’s boss. Sheriff Barney, I’m coming to see you.”