As pissed off as I am, I will leave the expletives out of the story. I will try to keep this to a purely factual write up of how the events unfolded on the night of Saturday October 10. Then you can make your own opinion.
A few hours before the incident, we had completed the race from Long Beach to Catalina Island. We were the first boat on the mooring in Avalon and we were ready to party. We put up our battle flag (a huge, very well endowed, topless mermaid) and headed in to town. We had some drinks at Luau Larry’s, went to dinner, wandered around a bit and finally found ourselves at the Marlin Club.
The scene at the Marlin Club was great. The place was packed with sailors. There was a handful of good looking women wandering around, and everyone was in good spirits as it had been a wonderful sail over.
At about 9pm (I’m totally guessing at this number), I was standing by the bar, sipping a beer and talking with some friends. A short, semi-bald, very scrubby looking man approached me. He was wearing a black zip-up hoody and jeans. He definitely didn’t look like a sailor. He told me I needed to go with him. My natural reaction was to say “Excuse me? Who are you?”. He told me he was police and I needed to go with him. In disbelief I asked to see a badge. He very quickly flashed something shiny in front of my face. I asked him to slow it down so I might actually read it. Again he flashed it far too quickly for me to even make out the words on it.
A buddy of mine, who was in the Compton Police Department for 20 years was standing close by. I asked him to take a look at this ‘badge’ and tell me if it was legit and if I should go with this guy. At this point a second man, probably in his mid 20’s, with a scruffy goatee and a baseball hat on approached and told my friend that they were police and they were taking me with them. He flashed a badge in my friend’s face but covered the writing with his fingers (I am told this is not acceptable behavior). My friend asked “Wait, which department are you with?” Before any answer was given I was forcefully dragged out of the bar and thrown onto the street. The tall ‘cop’ then pulled out an expandable metal baton (I am told it is called an “asp” and flung it out and held it over his head yelling at anyone and everyone to get back. I still wasn’t even sure they were cops.
At this point I believe the entire population of the bar poured out onto the street. It was a great scene to watch as the two ‘cops’ were surrounded by a large group of sailors who all had the same question: Who are these two guys and why are they being violent to a fellow sailor when there was nothing wrong going on at all?
The ‘police men’ told me they were with ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Control) and that I “looked like I might be under 21”. They then yelled at me to sit on a curb that was about 20 feet away from the crowd. They asked for my drivers license which I gave them. They then called in on a cell phone to see if it was legit or not.
At about this time the bouncer approached one of the ‘cops’ who had my drink in his hand. The bouncer instructed the ‘cop’ that he was not allowed to have a drink outside the bar. The ‘cops’ told the bouncer not to interfere with police business. The bouncer replied that he didn’t know who they were, but they didn’t look like cops, and even if they were they couldn’t have a drink outside. The bouncer was then threatened with the expandable baton so he went inside and called the sheriff.
I was still pretty scared. After getting dragged out of the bar, threatened with the metal baton and yelled at by two guys who sure didn’t look like cops and still refused to show me their badges. The support that I received from my fellow sailors, however, was amazing. They all crowded around, getting as close as they dared while the tall ‘cop’ standing over me waved his baton around threatening to hit anyone who came close. At one point he said, in a very raged sort of tone, “I just want to hit someone!”. I said to the the ‘cop’ “Do it then. You obviously have anger issues, just hit someone.” He told me to “shut up”. I said “I’m glad this is what my tax dollars pay for” He replied “why don’t you tell your congressman”. I said “Why don’t I tell your boss? What’s your name and your badge number?” He replied in a very gruff voice “I’ll give you my badge number” and he made a motion like he was going to hit me in the face with his baton.
This only made the crowd angrier. One woman attempted to talk the ‘cop’ into giving her his baton so that people would calm down. He threatened to hit her with it until she backed off. My ex-police friend kept asking the ‘cops’ to show some ID. He was threatened as well and was repeatedly told to “back away” even though he was at least 10 feet away already and only asking a question. Another sailor video taped and made sure the cops knew that “he was video taping so there better not be any police brutality”. Many other sailors took photos as this was all going down.
Finally the shorter ‘cop’ got done verifying that I am indeed of legal drinking age. He gave me back my drivers’ license and my drink and told me to go back inside. As he was doing this the sheriffs showed up. They were all chuckles, telling the angered crowd that the ABC ‘cops’ had done nothing wrong, that in fact they could do whatever the wanted and there was nothing we could do about it. They seemed to think the situation was very amusing.
I went back inside to answer questions from just about everyone in the bar who were all amazed, shocked and relieved that I had made it out of the situation without any injuries.
I want to personally thank my fellow sailors for their concern, support and their boldness in making sure that I was not kidnapped, beaten or worse by two men who in the end turned out to be police, but could have been anyone with the amount of proof they were willing to show. Thank you all. Comments.
-David Servais (turning 25 in about 2 weeks).