On ———

1/30/2014

Dear Officer ——,

On November 20, 2012, my husband who was the Resident Faculty Leader of Summit Hall was arrested for Domestic Battery. I would like to take some time to express some concern to you about the police handling of that case.

My husband had thrown a bowl at me, which shattered against my foot and resulted in a very serious injury that left me in a cast for a month. I called 911 because I was panicked. At that point, he had been battering me regularly for a very long time. As I’m sure you know, domestic violence victims generally don’t report it until the behavior has become very, very dangerous.

I spoke with Officer —–, and my husband spoke with the other officer whose name I don’t remember.  Officer —— asked me if my husband had ever hit me before, and I admitted that he had, but I begged Officer —— not to arrest my husband, as I loved him and did not want him to lose his job. Officer —— then asked me to describe the events as they had occurred, and I said that I was walking away from my husband, and he threw a bowl at me. Officer —– said “I understand. These things happen. Things get crazy. It happens with my wife and me too.”

I did not say this, but I thought “Do you beat your wife too?”

Despite my serious injury, Officer —— then said that they would send my husband to his parents house for a couple of days to “calm down.” He then asked me if he could see my driver’s license. When I stood up, I was unable to walk. I hobbled into the other room to get my driver’s license.

At that point, the other officer saw my foot. He said “Ma’am, can I look at your foot?” As he was looking at my foot, he looked to Officer —– and said “That’s bad. That looks broken.” The other officer then asked me what had happened.

Again, I described the events as they had occurred, I was walking away, and he threw the bowl at me. Officer —— then said, “Well, did he just knock the bowl off of the counter and it hit your foot?”

I was confused because I had just described what had happened, and I said “No, he threw the bowl at me.”

The other officer then asked if my husband had a phone number they could reach him at, and I realized that they were going to arrest him. They went outside and waited for my husband to return, and during that time, I called my husband and told him they were going to arrest him. My husband then left his phone on, either on purpose or by accident, and I could hear everything that happened. The other officer said, “Did she hit you too?” My husband said no. The other officer then said “Because we can arrest her too.”

At that point, both my husband and I had told our stories, neither of us had said anything about me hitting him, and still, the officer offered to arrest me. I have researched this issue, and I have learned that an officer is never supposed to make that kind of suggestion if it is not brought up on its own.

Later, when my husband returned from his arrest, he told me that he had written a statement where he admitted to throwing the bowl. Officer —–, however, wrote a statement where he said that my husband had knocked the bowl off of the counter and it hit my foot. This was in direct contradiction to what both the victim and the offender had stated. I do not know if Officer —-= was trying to protect my husband, or if he was trying to protect himself because he realized that he never should have sent my husband away, but he was clearly trying to protect someone.

The conduct in this situation was so egregiously wrong, unethical, and reveals a lack of training in regards to domestic violence. Domestic violence can happen at all ages, and it is important for campus police to be trained in that area.

When I spoke with Officer —–, I still loved my husband and wanted to remain married to him, so I didn’t want him to arrest my husband, but that is symptomatic of the domestic violence relationship, and I was clearly in a dangerous situation. It was Officer —-‘s responsibility to protect me, and instead of protecting me, he protected a violent and dangerous man.

I have since left and divorced my husband, and I live in another state. The past 14 months have given me the time and perspective to see how wrong the situation I lived in was, and also, how much police misconduct contributes to the pervasive and systemic problem of domestic violence in our country.

I hope that you will deal with this issue, and I am going to work to educate others about my situation so that this does not happen to someone else in the future.

Sincerely,

Kelly Sundberg

 

Dear Officer ——,
I forgot to include my photos of the injury in question.
Sincerely,
Kelly Sundberg
 •

I will have an internal affairs investigation start and one of command staff should be in touch with you.  We will keep you posted on our investigation.  Thank you for contacting me.

Ms. Sundberg,

I am Lt. —– with the West Virginia University Police Department. I am an investigator that has been forwarded a copy of an e-mail that our department received, reference concerns you had with the campus police handling of domestic violence, particularly an incident in which you were involved with in November of 2012, reference case # 12-0016621. I have been assigned to formerly investigate this complaint.

I have included in this e-mail a copy of our form for filing a report of complaint against police personnel, which I will need you to complete and send back to me. I will also need to speak with you sometime to verify your identity and clarify details of your complaint. It is my understanding that you are now residing out-of-state, so I will need you to give me a call at your convenience at the number listed below, as I do not have a current contact number for you.

Lt. ———-

[Scheduling and logistical stuff redacted]

Hello, Lt. ——-,

Could you please scan the police report and email it to me? I would like to read it since I have received different information from you than I had from my ex-husband about what is contained in it.
Thank you.
Best,
Kelly
I am not allowed to give out copies of reports to anyone. I will forward your request on my supervisors.

Ms. Sundberg,

I have been authorized to send you a copy of the report along with a copy of the criminal complaint. They are attached to this e-mail. Any further questions or communications regarding this matter should be directed to my supervisor, Capt. ——–.

Police Report

[I never saw this police report until after the case was settled (two years later), and it is full of falsehoods from the police officer, including that I declined to show up for court (I didn’t even know that court was happening because no one, including the prosecutor, informed me.) Caleb also told me that he had written a statement in his own handwriting where he admitted to having thrown the bowl at me, but, despite that, the police officer said that Caleb had accidentally knocked the bowl off of the counter (though he had contradicted himself in his own report).]

Ms. Sundberg,

An internal investigation was conducted by Lieutenant ——- into your allegations of inappropriate and/or unprofessional police conduct against Sergeant—– concerning UPD Incident Report #12-0016621, Domestic Battery.

Both Sergeant ——- and the other involved officer, Sergeant ——–, were interviewed. Lt. —–= also spoke with you. At the conclusion of this investigation the facts show that all applicable department policies and State of WV laws were adhered to by both of our officers. No wrongdoing was found.

At the conclusion of this investigation, I find that your complaint is unfounded.

If you need or desire additional information please schedule an appointment with Chief ———— and myself at ——-.

Sincerely,

Major——-

Dear Major ——–,

I thought you might be interested in this essay, which I recently published, which has received a lot of attention. I did not realize when I filed my formal complaint that your officer had not recorded the fact that I had called 911. Instead, he said there was a complaint of a loud disturbance, which was not true [I received this information later from the prosecutor’s office]. That technicality, in large part, led to my abuser getting his charges mostly dismissed.
I am just so disappointed in your department’s understanding/handling of domestic violence. I hope that you will distribute my essay, and I hope that it will educate your officers on how difficult it is for victims to come forward.
Sincerely,
Kelly Sundberg

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