L. Jessie Esposito, 56, is a retired decorated police detective from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. In 2001, Jessie was called to the scene of ground zero after the terrorist attack on 9/11, an event that changed her life. In 2008, Jessie retired after 23 years on the force and moved to Florida.
Esposito told the Examiner that she decided to move to Florida because she was looking forward to having her own house boat. She opened a small convenience store at her marina and began a new phase in her life. Before the night that changed her life, Jessie had no criminal history.
On June 6, 2012, Jessie had taken a friend out for her birthday. After having dinner and cocktails, the friends walked home. When Jessie made it back to her houseboat, she realized that she left her keys at her friend’s apartment, so she walked the mile back and knocked at the door, around 9:30 pm. Her friend did not answer the door, so Jessie pounded harder, apparently prompting a call to the police from an anonymous citizen.
The police officers, a male and a female, showed up and managed to get Jessie’s friend to answer the door, who confirmed that she knew Jessie. But the police still arrested the retired detective, kicking of a chain of events reminiscent of the twilight zone.
The hero cop told the Examiner that she was thrown to the ground, cuffed and shoved into the back of a police car. The police report indicated that Jessie was inebriated and was arrested for violating the personal space of one of the arresting officers and “resisting without violence.” She admitted to having had several drinks, which was why she was walking home that night.
She was ultimately taken to the county jail, but at this point, she had not been read her rights and had no idea why she was even being arrested until she faced a judge.
By the time she did face a judge, Jessie could not stand on her own and entered the courtroom in a wheelchair. She went right from the jail to the hospital.
Jessie told the Examiner that she was held for 26 hours at the county jail at Port Manatee. When she was first processed, she said that the police officer taking her prints told her that she was “resisting,” and Jessie described the nightmare that followed, and her version conflicts strongly with the police account of what took place.
She told the deputy that she was not resisting, and he “lost it” and punched her in the face, knocking her out. She fell to the ground and woke up to several other police officers kicking and punching her, with others in the room.
This point is heavily disputed by the internal investigation that followed. According to the final report, the deputy in question did not even fingerprint Jessie. The Examiner obtained a copy of the fingerprint card, and a number corresponding to a different officer was printed onto the card, but there is no signature. Jessie’s signature is also not present on the card.
After being punched in the face, Jessie said that her “nose and mouth were bleeding” and her “eye was swollen.” Of her eye, she said it “still gives me problems.” Jessie alleges that at least nine police officers shackled and cuffed her as she was on the floor, then she was “strapped into a restraint chair.” Her mobility was severely limited, and the bindings cut off her circulation. She said,
“I felt nothing in my hands and feet for four and a half hours.”
The nerve damage in one her hands ultimately resulted in Jessie having to get surgery three months later.
“I’ve been trying to figure this out since it happened. It was as if they just wanted to make an arrest that day.”
After the internal investigation, the police officers involved were cleared from any wrong doing. The report provided to the Examiner by Public Information Director Dave Bristow indicated that nine deputies were found to have “made contact” with Esposito, but in all nine cases, their contact was found to be “lawful.” The report said that Jessie gave herself the black eye and other injuries sustained because she was “thrashing” as they attempted to restrain her.
All of the officers involved said that Esposito was uncooperative and in some cases, “belligerent.”
Jessie was not given a test for alcohol. There was no field sobriety test, nor was a breathalyzer used.
She was initially charged with “assault on a law enforcement officer,” but it was downgraded to public intoxication.
Jessie told the Examiner that as a police officer herself, who had received an award for valor, she “knows better” than to act in the way that police officers portrayed her. Unfortunately, the only video available is of Jessie in the holding cell when she first arrived, and of Jessie being compliant with police officers as they drag her down a hallway. She was not “thrashing.”
The Examiner asked Public Information Director Dave Bristow whether it is standard practice to record the fingerprinting process or to record prisoners in their cells. He said that there are no cameras in those areas. Jessie is so insistent that she was brutalized, that she spent her own money to undergo a polygraph test. She passed with flying colors.
Jessie said that when she was a detective, she “loved” her job. But after this experience, she “lost all respect for law enforcement.” This is a case of “he said, she said,” it seems. Bristow said that the police officers testified under oath. But of course, Jessie did, as well.
But was this a situation that was escalated by Jessie, or by law enforcement? Did Jessie really give herself a black eye and other various injuries?
The Examiner is awaiting word on whether there is dashcam footage. If it is provided, this article will be updated.
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