If you think police brutality is only a recent issue, think again. By now, most of us have heard the report of Django Unchained actress, Danièle Watts, being arrested by police who mistook her for a prostitute. But did you know the same thing happened to an African-American child eight years ago, only worse?
Three police officers in Texas accused a 12-year-old black girl of being a prostitute, beat and kidnapped her, and none of them ever faced any consequences for their actions.
On August 22, 2006, 12-year-old Dymond Milburn was outside her home flipping a breaker switch to help her family after the electricity went out, when a blue van pulled up and three men exited the vehicle without identifying themselves. The men were cops in plain clothes with the Galveston police and they accused Dymond, who is black, of being a prostitute.
“You’re a prostitute,” an officer declared. “You’re coming with me.”
They then tried to drag Milburn into their van while she scratched and clawed in her struggle to stop them from taking her. She screamed for her father to come to her rescue while the angry officers began beating her in an effort to force her into the van. One of the officers, David Roark, muzzled the girl’s mouth with his hand to silence her.
Hearing her screams, Dymond’s parents arrived on the scene and told officers, “That’s our daughter. She’s twelve.” But Roark didn’t give a damn. “I don’t care if she’s twenty-two, thirty-two, or forty-six,” Roark responded.
Along with Roark, the other officers included Sean Stewart and their Sergeant, Gilbert Gomez. They believed they had the right to take Dymond Milburn away without consulting her parents. Horrified, Dymond’s parents were devastated and powerless as the officers literally kidnapped their daughter before their eyes.
The officers decided to bring Dymond to the hospital for medical attention, and the level of her injuries was devastating. As a result of the brutal beating by police, the little girl suffered a head injury, a throat injury, abrasions on her arms, a sprained wrist, two black eyes, and lacerations as well as spinal injuries. On top of all these physical wounds, Dymond also suffered nightmares and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. In all, her injuries resulted in a hospital bill totaling $8,000.
But police still weren’t done putting Dymond through hell. When she finally returned to school following her release from the hospital, police embarrassed her further by showing up at her school. They arrested her in front of her classmates at Austin Middle School in revenge for putting up a fight. The charges? Assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest.
You read that right. Cops beat the hell out of this girl and they charge HER with assault. Plus she resisted the officers because that’s what we tell our children to do when strangers try to force them into a vehicle against their will.
Milburn and her family had to deal with two mistrials over a period of three years before the District Attorney agreed to stop pursuing the charges. By then, Dymond was 15-years-old and a huge chunk of her childhood was stolen from her. In retaliation, the Milburns filed a civil lawsuit against the officers who changed her life three year earlier. But none of them have been punished and a settlement hasn’t occurred. Basically, all three officers complicit in the kidnapping and beating of the then-12-year-old girl got away with it. Sean Stewart was actually named “Officer of the Year” sometime later and Gomez went on to be promoted prior to becoming a private detective.
Dymond Milburn is 20-years-old now and still hasn’t received justice for what these police officers did to her. She was just a black 12-year-old girl in front of her own home at night, and yet, police accused her of being a prostitute even though she didn’t do anything wrong and officers had no cause to accuse her of anything. In fact, the only reason the officers were around is because they were responding to a call about three white prostitutes allegedly soliciting in the area. However, they attacked a black child who obviously didn’t fit the description instead and accused her of being the prostitute. Remember, we’re talking about a 12-year-old girl who was at her house with her parents. She was an honors student helping around the house. She wasn’t out on the street hooking.
Police brutality against people of color is not just an epidemic today. It’s been around for a long time. And even children aren’t immune from illegal police behavior. If this can happen to one child, it can happen to any child in America. For too long, police have been able to do what they want to the citizens they are supposed to serve and protect with little or no consequences. That needs to change or police behavior never will.