Superior Court and SFPD label felons “hecklers”
Whoever thought up the latest deus ex machina for saving the SFPD – with less than a month before the start of Kathy Yount, Individually And In Her Capacity As v. City And County Of San Francisco Et Al – must have been severely affected by the record hot temperatures in the city last week.
Never mind that a parallel waste of time and money was going on simultaneously with a legal services agency summarily passing out thank-you bonus checks here in Missouri to various folks in exchange for my subpoenaed records. And never mind that the city lawyers’ pockets are so flush and deep that they can afford to hire outside help for subpoena collection from independent agencies such as West Coast Legal Services in San Jose.
And never, never ever forget that this lawsuit will most certainly not be about police accountability if the city lawyers for San Francisco can help it.
It will be about me.
Apparently, the victim’s mother must be rigorously investigated. I am the San Francisco city lawyers’ official red herring, the ultimate distraction being dragged through a nasty litigation process. I am the poster mom cover-up to glaze over what 24 San Francisco police officers did – and did not do – when they enthusiastically emceed the suicide baiting entertainment death of my only child, Dylan Gifford Yount, in Hallidie Plaza, San Francisco, on February 16, 2010, without ever lifting so much as one finger to stop the ongoing felony.
The superfluous investigation of me is further harassment, confirmed so far by my psychologist, funeral director, one-time business partner, and current school superintendent, all indicating what records regarding me had been subpoenaed during these last two weeks.
Believing that a likely settlement procedure was underfoot, I was quite hopeful and prepared to turn down any settlement offer – publicly and vigorously. After all, our trial was still set to begin August 25, 2014, and the last thing I knew was that the Et Al group had requested a jury trial the same as we had.
Yet while I was receiving phone calls or being sent copies of what people had furnished as subpoena requests, the settlement offer was abruptly yanked off the radar.
Naturally, all this subpoenaed information – particularly my 38-year teaching personnel file and my psychologist’s notes from the 117 visits she and I had shared – became the property of the San Francisco city lawyers anyway. And naturally, those files will, in turn, probably be used to distract us from what we hope to accomplish when we finally get to trial.
That’s right. You read the sentence correctly. After learning that CGC 13 533102 had been dismissed, I wallowed in a two-day pity party at first, trying to summon all the encouragement from others: “They plan on your giving up, running out of money, or dying. Don’t give in to the. . .”
I am 66. Go figure. Yet I am still signing the checks and my soul is more important than my pocketbook (cue MY attorneys, wishing THAT were not the case). I have already experienced the worst day of my life. I relive it everyday. What could be worse? Why would I quit now? What are they going to do – sue me?
This newest dismissal will bump our case from San Francisco Superior Court to the First District Court of Appeals, an appellate process that will take twelve to eighteen months if everything goes well. This new legal limbo is as effective as locking me into an illegal police chokehold, but I am far from being finished as Dylan’s mother.
Even as I prepare for this new challenge, the four arguments still disgust me. The first three argue we are dismissed because the SFPD did not “create a special relationship” with Dylan, “did not encourage him to jump,” and “did not owe a duty to arrest the hecklers” BECAUSE “the defendant was focused on Mr. Yount and securing the scene“! (Sorry, these are my caps, italics, and exclamation mark, the only way I can possibly read that remark).
The fourth dismissal argument says the plaintiff “speculates that Mr. Yount heard defendant and the hecklers that encouraged Mr. Yount to jump,” and adds a flourish I could never have invented in ten long bazillion years – “While Officer Perez called Mr. Yount a fool,” he had – after all – “told him to go back inside.” Oh, wow.
I will respond briefly until I know more. I have not published anything since April because I thought that would be unseemly since we had been awarded what we wanted – a trial.
First, Officer Cezar Perez did actually create a special relationship with Dylan, the last one my son would experience as an earthly being. As a uniformed authority figure, Officer Perez was a functioning police presence who did, indeed, loudly (his words) engage in contact with my son Dylan, denigrating him publicly and grandstanding cockily to the obvious delight of many in the frenzied and/or horrified crowd. Officer Perez’s lack of training in crisis intervention and his ignorance of de-escalation techniques cost my son his life.
Second, many other SFPD officers did actually encourage – both overtly and subliminally – Dylan to jump to his death. Everyone standing in Hallidie Plaza recognized at some point that the SFPD had no intention of stopping the crowd’s baiting or of enforcing the law, at least those who actually knew there was such a law (CA Penal Code 401).
The SFPD did exacerbate the danger to Dylan and did escalate crowd violence either from incompetence or a refusal to control or discipline anyone who was breaking the law. Many SFPD officers continued to agitate the crowd within their nearby range with inappropriate remarks and laughter. SFPD officers instigated more aggressive crowd violence with loud comments such as “He’s not going to jump! He’s high!” or “Come on! You’re wasting our time!”
The SFPD did outline a jump zone for a man with a disordered brain. This overt action also spoke subliminally as the yellow outlined square reserved as the place for the victim’s death. The police taped-off zone symbolized what the weak man should do. The SFPD waited like grinning jackals at a picnic. The movie files show this. The witnesses’ written documentation confirms this.
By now, I know I should be so accustomed to reading between the lines of testifying, the portmanteau of testify and lying – the common vernacular describing police falsification – that I should not be shocked by the oldest trick in language manipulation, Shakespeare’s observation that a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet. Even so, argument three is quite offensive.
Whoever decided to call felons “hecklers” might find this statement come back to bite him in the butt. The SFPD “did not owe a duty to arrest the hecklers”? Say what? If a felon is called a heckler, does that erase his crime? Would the SFPD not owe a duty to arrest felons? If 24 SFPD officers had watched a rape, would they owe a duty to arrest those felons or can they just exonerate them by calling them “hecklers”? Suicide baiting is a raw assault, an exploitation of a person in mental distress. Someone who yells, “JUMP!” is more than a “heckler.”
Equally ludicrous is the excuse that the SFPD could not make any arrests because “the defendant was focused on Mr. Yount and securing the scene.” How long will we have to wait to hear the answer to this question: How many of the 24 were focused on Dylan and how many on securing the scene? The defendant should have to defend itself! No one should ever be above accountability.
The final lame argument – whether Dylan did or did not hear Officer Perez and the “hecklers” screaming at him to kill himself reminds me once again that the police and the court cannot have it both ways.
Our first visit to Hallidie Plaza as a grieving family after Dylan’s death did not come until October, 2011. At that time, it was quite clear to us – as the movie files had already demonstrated, as the hundreds of comments and letters to me had established – that Dylan would have heard everything. One cannot claim on one hand that he had been unable to hear all this and on the other allege that he had not responded to Officer Perez’s old school command-and-control training, clearly a failure in interactions with the psychologically distressed.
Those who love me will be happy to hear that after my two-day pity binge, I began to feel a strange sense of peacefulness that is with me still. I feel sorry that there are those who would refuse to acknowledge the unalloyed truth even if it slapped them in the face and I am glad I am not a city lawyer.
Like most everyone, I still experience epiphanies from time to time, even though I have lost my greatest reason for living. I will always hate what happened to Dylan and thus to me, but I have learned much. While traditional viewers regard the suicidal as quitters, others of us understand how they come to regard death. For the suicidal, it is the end of personal pain. They regard death not so much as giving up as realizing when they have had enough. Dylan was the epitome of the desperate and impulsive suicidal.
I, myself, have not had enough. I still have miles to go before I sleep.