When the brick crashed through her bathroom window and somebody began kicking in her front door, the 19-year-old single mother of two in Milwaukee dialed what are supposed to be the most trustworthy three numbers.
“I called 911 for help,” she later said in court. “I didn’t call 911 to be the victim.”
Within minutes, two police officers responded. One took her 15-year-old brother outside to speak to him. The other cop, Police Officer Ladmarald Cates, gave her boyfriend $10 and told him to go the store and get some water. She told him that he was welcome to chilled water from her refrigerator.
“I only drink bottled water,” Cates said.
Her boyfriend has a pronounced limp and set off with no promise of returning soon. Cates asked to see the broken window and she led him down a narrow hallway to a bathroom in the back. She felt sure that jealous neighbors had attacked her happy home because she dared to defy what seemed surely to be her fate as an inner-city teenage single mom.
“I wanted to be a good example to my kids,” she would later say. “I wanted to learn something, be somebody.”
She had returned to high school as a mother of two and after graduation she had continued on to the University of Wisconsin, where she was studying criminal justice with the thought of becoming police officer or a lawyer.
“I thought I was going pretty good,” she would recall.
Milwaukee police officer Lamarald Cates is charged with rape., Jonathan A. Meyers / Newscom
She now stood on a floor littered with broken glass and pointed to the brick. The cop she had summoned to protect her instead chose this moment to grab the back of her head by her hair and sodomize her. Then he raped her.
Her revulsion in the aftermath was so visceral that she vomited as she ran outside. The cop’s partner had become concerned when he did not immediately see Cates and called for back-up. Other cops began arriving and saw a woman screaming incoherently about being raped.
Cates appeared and grabbed her by the waist, spinning her around. Her swinging feet may or may not have struck the partner. She was handcuffed and taken in, told at the stationhouse that she was being charged with assaulting a police officer.
She became more coherent but no less outraged and vocal as she continued cry out from a holding cell that she had been raped. She also continued to vomit. The other cops dismissed her as a liar.
After 12 hours, she was interviewed by internal affairs and taken to a hospital, where a rape kit was used to collect evidence. She was then taken to the county jail and held for four days before being released without actually being charged.
She took her story to the Milwaukee District Attorney’s office. A prosecutor subsequently wrote, “While I did find the victim’s version of events credible, I did not believe that her testimony would be strong enough to successfully prosecute Officer Cates.”
In other words, Cates was still a cop and she was still an inner-city teenage single mom. She stopped going to school as she fell into a deep depression, making two serious suicide attempts.
“It was killing my soul,” she says.
She who had so desperately wanted to be a good example for her 3-year-old boy and 2-year-old girl began to wonder if they should even be with her.
“Sad and crying all the time,” she says. “I didn’t know if I wanted my kids around, me being upset like that about something that happened to me.”
Meanwhile, internal affairs confronted Cates with DNA evidence linking him and the victim. He told three different stories, finally saying there had been a voluntary sexual encounter. His victim read in the newspaper that he had been fired for lying and for “idling and loafing” on duty, words that mocked what had been done to her.
“That really pissed me off,” she says.
She took some comfort in knowing Cates was not going to be answering any more 911 calls. But he still had not been held accountable for what he did to her.
“It wasn’t really justice,” she says. “It didn’t say he hurt me.”
She was sinking only deeper into despair when she went on the Internet and chanced up a photo of an eminent Milwaukee defense lawyer named Robin Shellow.
“She had a beautiful smile,” the victim recalls. “It was just her smile and the look in her eyes…She’s not mean and she’s a woman … She looked like she could understand me...She looked like she would help.”http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/01/29/she-dialed-911-the-cop-who-came-to-help-raped-her.htmlhttp://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/01/29/she-dialed-911-the-cop-who-came-to-help-raped-her.html