(Sheriff’s Press Release, October 22, 2014) — On Monday, October 20, 2014 at approximately 9:00 A.M., Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies were dispatched to the 44000 block of Highway 101 in Laytonville, California regarding an unwanted subject. When Deputies arrived at the location they came into contact with Arik Caldwell, 32, of Laytonville who would not respond to the Deputies verbal commands. During the contact Caldwell spoke in an unintelligible manner and appeared to possibly be under the influence of a controlled substance. During the contact Caldwell became aggressive towards the Deputies by physically attacking them with punches and kicks. During the incident, three Deputies sustained minor injuries while struggling with Caldwell before they could get him under control and handcuffed. During the struggle, Caldwell grabbed for items on a Deputy's duty belt and also grabbed on to a Taser that a Deputy was attempting to deploy. Caldwell was placed under arrest for Resisting Executive Officers by Means of Violence and transported to a nearby hospital for medical treatment. Once Caldwell is cleared from the hospital he will then be booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he will be held in lieu of $15,000 bail.
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Is it corruption? Is it retaliation? You decide.
I guess my first mistake was visiting California. I mean, who in their right mind would visit California? Maybe I wasn't in my right mind. I was listening to talk radio.
Anyway, they started discussing how California was going to fall into the ocean. I know, I know, they've been saying that for years now. But for some reason it hit me this time. I thought to myself: I haven't seen all of California and its going to go down. I'm going to be there to see it. So I started walking from Ashland, Oregon. I got about halfway up the mountain, along the highway, and it started to rain. I got about three fourths of the way up the mountain and it started getting cold. Real cold. I was prepared but the wet and cold hit me. I was freezing. I had just hit the top where Calihan's is. From the highway the sign says "vacancy." So I went down there.
The sign on the front door said they were closed. There were about six cars in the parking lot. I stepped to a door where an ashtray was and proceeded to hit a butt. I looked at the door. It was open. I went in. At the front desk I rang the bell. I stood there for at least 10 minutes. Then I roamed the halls calling out "Hello — is anyone here?" I walked the halls for 20 minutes. I sat down in the game room and watched TV for a while. When I was semi-dry I thought, "Man, I don't want to get in trouble." So I left.
Right around the corner there was a big gravel shed. I climbed in there and fell asleep.
Out of the blue I awoke. I saw a giant freezing fog come out of the woods. I swear this was coming for me. Bewildered, I ran back to the hotel. When I left before I made sure to shut the door behind me. Luckily, the door was still open. I went back in. In the lobby I sat down on the couch and set my coat out to dry and plugged my cellphone in. Sitting on the couch I didn't feel too comfortable. But I fell asleep anyway at about 8am.
I awoke when I heard something and there sitting behind the desk was some guy. I stood up to explain myself. As I stood the man screamed like a girl, "Oh my God. Where did you come from?" I told him that I had seen the Vacancy sign from the road. The door was open and I was waiting in the lobby for someone who worked here. He told me, "It's okay. Go back to sleep. I still have some things to do before we open." So I did.
About two hours later I heard a woman's voice. I woke up and overheard the end of the conversation. The man said, "I didn't know what to do, you know, his type, I didn't want him to get violent with me." Hearing this, I quickly grabbed my things and went to the door of the small office they were in. I apologized again and explained that the sign said vacancy. And the door was open. I added that I did nothing but sit in the lobby and wait for an employee. I didn't include that the employee told me to go back to sleep, not being one to throw him under the bus.
She started to tell me that no matter how cold it is, "You can't just break in to places." I are reiterated to them, "This is a hotel. Your sign said Vacancy, and the door was open."
At the same time I pulled out a credit card. Unbeknownst to her it was no good. But I said, "I wanted to rent a room but because you've treated me so unfriendly I don't wish to anymore."
She told me to leave. Happily and quickly I made tracks.
On the highway I ran and jogged over the California border hoping to get to California before the police showed up. I did, and this has nothing to do with why I am now in Mendocino County Jail.
I made it to California, obviously. I walked to the second exit on I-5 where there was a Chevron station. I bought $50 worth of food and ate all of it. I was famished. After about three hours of sitting around I started attracting dirty looks from the workers so I left. Back on the road.
Not two minutes on the highway a deputy sheriff pulled up behind me. I dropped my backpack and stuck my hands in the air. He told me to put my hands down and explained that pedestrians were not allowed on the highway. I asked him if it was a jailable offense? He said no. I asked what would happen if I continued to walk on the highway. He said he would continue to advise me to get off of the highway. I told him I had just spent three hours getting here from the last exit and I wasn't going back. He told me to get off at the next exit. I asked for a ride. He said, "I would have to search you first." I told him "Go ahead — I have nothing illegal on me." He patted me down and threw my backpack in the back and stuck me on the back seat. At the next exit he dropped me off which happened to be a rest area about five miles out of Yreka. He told me I could camp at the rest area and look for a ride.
I wrote "Southside" on a piece of paper not knowing that it meant something else around here. I spent three days flying this sign and getting dirty looks from just about everyone. Finally on the fourth morning I got picked up by a guy from Utah who told me he was a "rubberstamp." Then he explained a rubberstamp was someone who collected SSI and lived in his vehicle traveling around. I said cool, I was just traveling through California, just visiting. He said he was looking for a road dog. We got along great for three days.
Outside of Laytonville at a rest stop in the middle of the night he got angry because I was listening to music and he couldn't sleep. He kicked me out of his van and took off. The rest area said, No camping. So I walked along the road until I was worn out and slept in the woods right off the road.
Again, none of this has anything to do with why I am in the Mendocino County Jail. I will be getting to that.
It took me another day to walk into Laytonville. I got into town at dusk. That night I bought a soda and something to eat at a little market. I ate it and went to the Chevron station where they told me I was not welcome. I left saying something rude.
I continued to walk. I went to a place called Chief's. I went into the laundromat but the guy working there said he was just closing up. I told him that it seemed like it was still early. He told me everything around there closed early. I sat around most of the night charging my cellphone and playing on the Internet.
Sometime after midnight I walked back around town and found a good place to sleep and crashed out. The sun woke me up. I walked back to Chief's. It was not open yet. I had no money. When they opened I sat around waiting and asked people politely to help me wash my clothes because they were soaked and mildewy. It had rained the past couple of nights. Everything I had was soaked.
As I sat there I read a sign on the wall that said, "We need help with cleaning and gardening." I thought, perfect — and it will help me too. Instead of asking around to see if anyone wanted my help, I just started cleaning. There were cleaning supplies in the corner. I moved the mop bucket out, filled it with clean water and started to sweep and mop. I moved everything out of the area and sorted some dirty rags into a laundry basket and put the clean ones into a bucket.
After a while a big guy came in and started yelling, "Just what do you think you're doing?"
I pointed at the signs and said "Just cleaning up."
He screamed, "I don't need help, get the fuck out of here."
I put the mop down and screamed back "Fuck you. This is my house." I said that mostly just to say something rude back to him.
He said, "I'm calling the cops."
I said, "Go ahead. I've done nothing illegal." I grabbed my things and went out to the road to wait and explain myself. After waiting for half an hour for the police to respond I started entertaining myself by hopping around on some large rocks that were alongside the road there away from anyone.
Three deputy sheriffs pulled up and yelled at me, "Why don't you come over here and talk to us." I yelled back, "We're talking right now and everyone can hear what is being said. You want to have a private discussion, why don't you get closer to me?"
At which point the deputies bunched together and came about five feet from me and said "Come down from there." At which point I squatted down to eye level with them and said, "Does this make you feel more comfortable?"
I could visibly tell it did not. They were shaken.
Then they said, "No, get off the rock."
I jumped down landing about a foot in front of them, and said, "Hold on a minute while I grab my ID and phone so I can record this conversation." I stepped away. A second later I was hit by a taser gun. It's not so bad, let me tell you, just a little unnerving. I spun back to face them and got hit with another taser. At this point an officer rushed me and hit me with his baton in my knee and I fell over, face-first. Once on the ground I had all three deputies on my back. They proceeded to tase me and clobber me with their batons.
At some point I got hit in the shin which gave me a two-inch gash. Then I got hit on my head and started spraying blood all over the ground. The whole time I was being tased. The taser was literally pressed between my balls and my ass. All the while they continued to beat me. At some point I passed out.
Let me go back a second. I was wearing a pair of swim trunks, an athletic wife-beater shirt and shoes. That was it. There would be no way to hide a weapon. I was dragged to the police car and we went rocketing down the road. The cuffs were on so tight that I had permanent nerve damage in my right arm.
I realized when we stopped that I was going to the hospital. Two officers pulled me out of the car and slammed me down onto a gurney. The amount of juice they put on me was so great that I couldn't even hold myself up when they tried forcing me to walk. So when I say that they slammed me, I mean they body-slammed me. I received a staple in my chin and seven on the top of my head. I awoke in a hospital bed with the deputy sheriff sitting in a chair next to me. I was obviously in custody. I was in the hospital for three days, not allowed to use a phone. At some point on the second day the three officers showed up to say, "We just wanted to make sure you're okay." On the third day the nurses pulled out my catheter and the tube that was in my "junk" and I was told that I was being moved.
I am now in the Mendocino County Jail. I was in booking for at least a full day. Then after I was booked, I was put into "lock down." I was told that was because of the crime I had been charged with — charged, but not convicted. I am now back in Wing 4 while the officers walk the phone right past me. I had been in jail for at least five days before I was arraigned. At the arraignment I told the judge, "You should just go ahead and drop this case because you only have 72 hours to arraign me."
At this point the judge, the Honorable Judge David Nelson, told me in open court, "No. I have ten days to hold an arraignment hearing." Then they proceeded to take away my right to defend myself.
Back at the jail I started freaking out and banging on my cell door until they moved me to isolation. I explained to a sergeant that I was being mistreated and have not been allowed to use the phone. Since I've been here in isolation there is a phone in the cell but I will be damned if I can get the voice recognition system to work for me.
Now, going back again for a second, every cell I've been in has been filthy. I have sores all over my body. This is bothering me. I have asked repeatedly for cleaning supplies but to no avail. I used my bar of soap and water to wash down my cell from ceiling to floor. Upon moving to isolation I was stripped of my blanket and books and paper including a letter I had written to my lawyer which makes it legally wrong.
When they came the next time to tell me to cuff up, I said, "No. Every time I do you move me to some nasty cell and as soon as I clean it you come and take all my shit and move me again."
Six officers came into my cell, tased me, threw me to the ground and stomped me out. At some point my eye got cut and my right knee got broken.
I was stuck in a rubber room, buck naked. There is a hole in the floor for a bathroom and literally piss all over the floor. With my knee broken, I rolled around in piss screaming that my knee was broken.
At some point I was thrown into a suicide smock. I was told my leg is fine. Later in the night an officer asked if I wanted to go back to my cell? I said, "Yes, but I can't walk. I need a wheelchair." I was told that I would have to walk if I wanted to go back to my cell. So I manned up and walked.
The next day the medical staff told me that if I wanted my staples out I had to walk to the medical station. So again I manned up and walked there.
At the medical station I was told my knee was fine, it's just a little swollen. It was the size of a cantaloupe. For a month I was forced to walk on it with no painkillers except the occasional Tylenol. The whole time I was told it's fine and it will get better.
After a month I finally got an x-ray. The next day I was given a knee brace and a handicapped room and crutches. The nurse told me not to put weight on it. I said to the nurse, "Well, for the past month I've been told it's fine and I just need to walk it off." The nurse said, "I can't say anything about that, but at this point we don't want you putting any weight on it."
I got taken to the hospital for an MRI. The results are not set to be back until Monday. But the guy who did the MRI said there is definitely extensive muscle damage.
One last thing, I am a vegan. I've been a vegan for the past three years. I have been denied a vegan diet by the kitchen here. Not only that, I had the Chaplain request it as a religious diet. The kitchen told him that I had been receiving a vegan diet. Above all else they are denying my religious rights. It's crazy.
I've been in prison in Alaska for the past 10 years on an off and I've never dealt with something like this. When I finally did get hold of my mother, she told me the Internet said this whole country is corrupt.
She told me that a DA had just been fired over corruption. Literally, California is one of the most corrupt places around today and they wear that title like a medal of honor? You tell me: is it corruption or retaliation?
Aric Lee Caldwell, 52086
Mendocino County Jail
PS. Any pro bono who wants to represent me in both the criminal case and a civil lawsuit, I say, Please. I'll be here