Editor's note: There is an update at the bottom of this article.
Margaret Rague, 61, the organizer of , says that on Saturday she was the victim of a "false arrest," on "bogus charges" in which police "were abusive to me" and "brutalized me."
"I didn't do anything wrong," Rague said about downtown at about 9 p.m. Saturday, when police charged her with creating a public disturbance, interfering with an officer and related charges. Rague said she expects to file a lawsuit against police for violating her civil rights.
She refused to talk about the circumstances just before police confronted her, saying "as an attorney I know I shouldn't respond. [...] It would be ill-advised [to respond]. It will all come out in court, unless the Darien police have the good sense to drop the charges, in which case I will be more lenient on them."
The police account
Darien Police say that Rague, of 63 Dubois St., appeared to be intoxicated when standing in the roadway near 1020 Post Rd. According to Capt. Frederick W. Komm, a spokesman for the department, police received more than one report of a woman in the roadway, trying to hitchhike.
Komm said a police officer reported that he witnessed her standing in front of a dark Volvo stopped in the road. When she was asked to move aside, the Volvo drove on.
According to Komm, when a police officer questioned her, "She became verbally confrontational and said she did not have to listen to police."
Asked about the police account, Rague said in an interview Tuesday morning: "Here's what I have to say about that: Lies, lies and damned lies. I am an attorney, and I know that when you're charged with something, you don't discuss the charges."
But Rague did talk about what happened after police first confronted her. In the course of the interview, Rague mentioned numerous physical ailments that she said made it either extremely painful or impossible to comply with all police directives after she was taken into custody.
She said she was unable to get up once when she fell, found it too painful to agree to be fingerprinted and had extreme difficulty making a phone call to a lawyer and reading a document because she didn't have access to her reading glasses.
"I'm 61, I have two cardiac conditions, I have osteo-arthritis in my joints, and I'm legally blind, four times over," Rague said. In addition to being a lawyer who works from her home, she is also a naturopathic doctor. She said her immune system is fragile, and she believes she received a lung infection because her jail cell was filthy.
Rague also mentioned that she objected to police initially asking her for her name.
When she couldn't comply with or objected to what officers told her to do, Rague said, they became angry and treated her roughly.
"I have bruises all over my body—they're all documented," she said because the next day she saw a doctor. In addition, she said, "Right now, I'm suffering post-traumatic stress syndrome."
Although Rague says her health is poor in a number of ways, she says she preferred to walk home that night, a distance of 1.6 miles, according to Google Maps.
"What they could've done was just let me walk home, which is what I told them I wanted to do," she said. "That's what I was doing. I've walked home many times."
Police said one of the reasons they arrested Rague was that she was causing a disturbance in an area where there were children. Rague disputes that. "They made up a cock and bull story that I was yelling and there were children in the area." At another point, Rague said, "[T]here were no children around. They [police] were making a ruckus—not me."
Refusal to give her name
Police said Rague initially refused to give her name to them. She agrees:
"The first officer who walked up to me, who was an arrogant, nasty, young man, said 'What's your name?'
"I said, 'Excuse me?'
"He said, 'What's your name?'
"I said, "On what basis do you ask me my name? I'm a citizen of Darien [...] and I said, 'By the way, what's your name?' and he points to his badge. I'm legally blind, I can't read that. Apparently he thinks that I should have to give my name but he doesn't have to give his name, which is false."
"This young man was so outraged that I wouldn't give him my name," Rague said.
In the parking lot
Rague was soon taken into custody and brought to a nearby parking lot, where a patrol car was parked.
When her hands were cuffed behind her back, that exacerbated a painful joint condition in her shoulder, she said. "I told them, 'I have a frozen shoulder. You're hurting me terribly.'"
She said that the police officers responded at that point and at other times she complained that they didn't care.
When she was in the parking lot, she said: "I collapsed, and I couldn't get back up again. They could've picked me up and carried me to the police car," she said. Or they could have brought the police car to where she collapsed, about 20 feet from the vehicle.
"They're telling me, 'Get up! Get up!' I couldn't get up. I have no cartilage in my knees, that I know of." She said she also has osteoarthritis in her ankles, knees, spine and neck, preventing her from getting up, she said.
She said a female police officer appeared to be in charge. Another officer asked the female officer what they should do. "She said in a totally sadistic voice—I mean totally sadistic—'Drag her.'"
Rague said she was dragged on the parking lot pavement to the police car. She later found her hands were bleeding, she said, presumably from being scratched on the pavement. Rague said she didn't remember how she was dragged or whether she was facing down or up.
"I said to her, 'You're an extremely sadistic young woman.' I told her that was exactly what she was. Then she told them to just 'stuff' me in the back of the police car."
"I was so frightened and hurt in the parking lot, I kept screaming for help, and I lost my voice," Rague said. "I was screaming at the top of my lungs, I was in so much pain." At another point in the interview, she said, "I screamed at the top of my lungs for at least four minutes for help."
Fingerprinting and mug shot
Police said Rague would not allow herself to be fingerprinted and refused to allow police to take her mug shot. Police charged her with refusal to be fingerprinted and with interfering with a police officer.
Rague said that when an officer asked to fingerprint her, "What I told them [the officer] is that I have extremely painful osteoarthritis in my hands and it would be extremely painful for them to fingerprint me. She said, 'OK.' I assume they didn't want to torture my fingers."
Regarding her alleged refusal to allow her picture to be taken, Rague said, "That's a point-blank lie. They're hanging themselves by their own petard, because they've told so many easily disproven lies. They're just showing what liars they are."
Asking for medication
Rague said that while she was in custody, "I told them, 'I have a double heart condition. I just spent the weekend at Stamford Hospital. Can I please have my medication?' They said, 'No, we don't give medication.'
"They did infect my lungs while I was there," she said. Asked how that happened, she said, "The cell was filthy. I took bacterial samples. [...] I can't take antibiotics. [...] I'm subject to lung infections and bronchitis."
At one point, she said, she told them, "So you're exposing me to the possibility of death. I can't take antibiotics.'" She asked them to allow her to take some of the vitamin suppliments and aspirin in her purse, to help her fight off infections, or aspirin she had for her heart, but police refused, citing a longstanding policy of not giving prisoners medication.
"I told them all this, and they didn't do a thing for me. They placed my life in danger by that alone."
Making a phone call
While in custody, Rague wanted to make a phone call to a lawyer, although she was able to get bonded out with the help of her fiance.
The first phone that police handed to Rague was broken, she said. "How could they not have known they had a nonfunctioning phone? I thought they were just baiting me."
She said it was difficult for her to call a lawyer because she wasn't allowed to have her glasses back at that point.
"When I finally got an attorney, in the middle of the call, they ripped the phone out of my hands, and I never completed the call."
She said she got an elderly attorney on the telephone, and, remembering during the phone call that the man was in his 80s, was probably quite frail and that she'd probably woken him up in the middle of the night, decided she should try to "delicately get off the phone with this person."
As Rague was trying to do that, she said, a female police officer suddenly said, "'Hey there's no socializing on this telephone.'"
"She reaches through the cell doors and—get this—rips the phone from my hands. I have arthritic fingers, and that hurt. That hurt."
Rague said the officer then told the lawyer, "'Oh, sir, she's perfectly free to leave at any time.' I yelled back, 'She's lying! I'm not free to leave!'"
Rague said she left a message for the lawyer the next day but hasn't spoken with him yet.
At some point, Rague said, she asked police, "'Why are you doing this to me?' I said, 'What's wrong with you people? Have you never heard of the Constitution of the United States?' She looks at me and says, 'You're in jail,' like I have no rights. [...] I said, 'I'm innocent for all legal purposes and otherwise. Have you never heard of the presumption of innocence?' Apparently she did not. Apparently none of them did."
"They kept teling me, 'This is all on tape,' and I said, 'I'm delighted.'"
Before she was allowed out on $500 bond, Rague said, "They said, 'OK, we're releasing you with all the items that belong to you. Sign here.' I said, "How would I know you're releasing me with all my possessions?"
Rague said she needed to have her reading glasses to see anything. There was some confusion and difficulty in getting them, she said. Her fiance had apparently brought them to the police station, but they were misidentified as her fiance's own glasses. Rague did have a different pair of glasses with her, but they were no good for reading.
"I said, 'I need my reading glasses to see the sign-out document."
"She said, 'Either sign here or you're going back to your cell.'"
Rague said she couldn't even feel the items because they were in strong plastic bags. With her arthritis, she didn't think she could open the bag. "I would've had to break them open with my teeth. I'd have broken a tooth. I have very delicate teeth."
The officer then agreed to read through the document for her, Rague said, but the officer read a few sentences, not the entire document, which Rague could see had two more paragraphs in it. Rague asked that those sentences be read as well.
"She said, 'I'm not reading all this.' I said, 'You said you would read it to me.'"
Rague said the officer then asked Rague if she wanted to go back to her cell, then, 'She pushes the glases back onto my face and says, 'Sign here.'"
"I said, 'You're assaulting me.' At that point, another officer ran into the room and stood there. At that point, she stopped assaulting me because there was a witness."
Rague eventually decided to sign the document. She said she wrote on it, "I cannot see," and then signed her name.
Leaving the police station and afterward
While her fiance was at the police station, arranging to get her released, Rague said, a police officer told her fiance, "Tell Margaret if she says anything about the police in Occupy Darien [at the event] she'll be subject to arrest."
Rague also said that when she was finally leaving the station, a female police officer asked her what kind of car she drove. "They clearly intended to engage in police harassment," she said. "Otherwise why would they care what kind of car I drove?" The make and model of her car is readily available to police, she said.
"When I got home, I made numerous phone calls to the police, and I attempted to file criminal charges against a number of people," Rague said. "I had a number of complaints, and they refused to take them."
"It's heinous, the way I was treated," Rague said. "If this is the way I, a white woman who has lived in the town for 23 years, an attorney and a naturopathic doctor, is treated, can you imagine what they do with a nonwhite person?"
"They realize they brutalized me, and that placed them in a very difficult postion. They're setting up the town for terrible lawsuits. This will go through the court system. I will have the finest lawyer. I've also contacted the A.C.L.U. [...] It will go through hundreds of thousands of dollars. Who will pay for this? The Darien taxpayers."
"Fascism is alive and sick in the Darien Police Department," Rague said, although she said earlier that most of the 10 to 15 police officers who she saw that night were not abusive. "But those four officers who engaged in brutality must be dismissed from the Darien Police force. [...] What they did was horrible, terrible and absolutely inexcusable."
Rague's next steps
Rague said town taxpayers are on the hook for the lawsuit she expects to file and any damages she might receive.
"Even if these charges were true—which they're not—this case could go all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States. I'll hire a private civil rights lawyer. It may cost me $10,000 to $20,000, but it's going to cost them millions. I myself could take this to the Supreme Court. [...] If people in Darien want to be shocked and outraged [at the cost of town services] let them be shocked and ourtraged that the police are committing brutality."
In addition to creating a public disturbance, refusal to be fingerprinted and interfering with an officer, Rague was charged with disorderly conduct, creating a public disturbance, breach of peace. She is due to appear Dec. 14 in state Superior Court in Stamford. She has not yet hired a lawyer for the criminal case or the civil case she expects to file.
Rague said that on Monday she spoke with First Selectman Jayme Stevenson and two representatives from the Police Department in a productive and civil meeting about the Occupy Darien event, which Rague wants to be a peaceful exchange of ideas, not disruptive. Rague said her arrest did not come up at the meeting.
"They did act fascistically, and I was brutalized, and I can give the names," Rague continued, "but first I want to give Duane [Lovello, the police chief] the opportunity to fire his own police officers."
Update, Friday, 10:52 a.m.:
Margaret Rague sent this message Thursday to Darien Patch, objecting to the statement in the sentence just beneath the headline that her arrest was unrelated to the Occupy Darien event. To clarify: Her arrest was not for protest activities related to Occupy Darien, according to both the descriptions given by police and by her. Here is Rague's statement:
"I did not say my arrest was unrelated to Occupy Darien. If you recall, I was pondering the matter. I have done so.
"About two weeks ago, I called the Police Department, trying to find out who was the right person in the dept. to talk to about the Occupy Darien event. At that time, I spoke to an officer and told him that the police were invited, and he laughed.
"I said 'you're part of the 99 percent too, you know.' I subsequently spoke to [Police Chief] Duane Lovello's secretary, Jan, and she told me to talk to the Parks and Rec committee about getting a permit, which as what I was seeking.
"The police knew about this event, and they know who I am.I have lived here for 23 years, and raised my family here. So, please revise that statement."