Santa Cruz IMC
Santa Cruz IMC
Indybay Regions North Coast Central Valley North Bay East Bay South Bay San Francisco Peninsula Santa Cruz IMC - Independent Media Center for the Monterey Bay Area North Coast Central Valley North Bay East Bay South Bay San Francisco Peninsula Santa Cruz IMC - Independent Media Center for the Monterey Bay Area California United States International Americas Haiti Iraq Palestine Afghanistan
From the Open-Publishing Calendar
From the Open-Publishing Newswire
Indybay Feature

60 Year Old Homeless Woman Says Police Broke Her Arm

by Robert Norse
Donna Deiss called in last night to report that yesterday around 5 PM, Officer La Moss (Badge #114) assaulted her, broke her arm, and then put her in handcuffs when he attempted to question her at Three Tree Lot near Lighthouse Field. Deiss was taken to the Watsonville hospital, had to wait hours for x-rays, which confirmed her arm was broken.
Deiss reported the following to me in a phone message last night and an e-mail this morning:

She was talking with friends yesterday on Westcliffe Drive near her RV. An undercover police officer, whom she later identified as Officer La Moss, arrived in a black unmarked car and said he wanted to talk to her and others in the group. She read La Moss a statement from the ACLU about the rights of community members vis a vis the police and walked to her RV.

The cop followed her. She got in and tried to close the door. Le Moss, not saying she was under arrest or detained, reached in and grabbed her right arm, pinching the skin as he twisted it behind her back, breaking it. She screamed her arm was broken, but his response was to call for backup. 4 more police cars arrived. She continued screaming for 911 and finally paramedics showed up.

The police said they were impounding her RV, which she lives in.

She was taken to Watsonville hospital, waited hours for x-rays and pain pills. She is charged with battery and an additional charge. X-raqys confirm her arm was broken. She needs an attorney and community support.

This is an account from Donna Deiss (with some additions from her friend Shane). Donna has previously been harassed by rangers as part of the "clear out the hippies" campaign at Three Tree Lot and the other lots around Lighthouse Fields. Recently the City's Parks and Recreation Department had its "No RVs" signs painted over by state Rangers, for apparently violating state law and policy regarding parking (i.e. RVS are allowed to park).

See related stories: "Harassment of Homeless in RVs, a Letter from Donna Deiss" at ,

"Superintendant Hammack Stonewalls on RV Ban in Coastal Parking Lots" at , and

"Coastal Access Denied to Motorhomes and Trailers in Santa Cruz" at for related stories.
Witnesses to the Officer Christian LeMoss's assault on Donna Deiss Friday afternoon including Deiss's own testimony was heard on Free Radio Santa Cruz today. It should be archived soon at .

Craig: if you can secure a copy of the police report, please post it. Or if you get informal information from officers about their perspective, let us know. All witnesses I've spoken to (5 so far, not including Donna).

Particularly important (and this is sad) are middle-class witnesses passing by on foot, bike, or by car. Or nearby residents. Please put the word out for these folks to get in touch with what they saw.

I encourage folks to show up at Santa Cruz City Council at 3 PM and/or 7 PM to speak at Oral Communications to let the community (via tv) know what they think of this kind of behavior. City Council will also (be forced to) listen.

Also reminding folks that there's a public meeting of folks purportedly concerned with police abuse and discrimination on Wednesday 6:30 pm (see

Most telling perhaps would be a direct action protest and march, if anyone wants to organize it.

Witnesses to the event should give a call to me at 831-423-4833 or call me show on Thursday 6-8 PM on 101.1 FM at 427-3772.

Donna is charged with battery and resisting arrest. Her court date is June 16th. She faces up to a $2000 fine and up to 2 years in jail. Christian LeMoss on the other hand as far as I've heard is still on the beat--getting paid to do the beating.

Thanks to everyone who called in and are concerned about stopping police brutality.
§Additional Contacts
by Robert Norse
I didn't complete a sentence I began above:

All witnesses I've spoken to (5 so far, not including Donna) expressed shock and amazement at LeMoss's brutality as well as the massive police response that followed it (witnesses threatened with arrest, people held at the scene against their will, bogus charges and threats to tow vehicles, the pretext of "looking for marijuana", the failure to get emergency services out there for half an hour).

When police violence is unchecked by law

Contact D.A. Bob Lee at 454-2400 and demand prosecution of LeMoss for assault (on an elderly disabled woman, no less) under color of law.

Contact Police Chief Howard Skerry at 420-5810 and demand LeMoss be suspended from duty pending a full INDEPENDENT investigation of the assault.

Contact "Independent" Police Auditor Bob Arenson at 420-6295 or more directly at (650) 565-8800 to demand he review the Deiss case.

Contact Councilmembers Coonerty, Rotkin, and Porter--the "Public Safety Committee" of Cithy Council which supposedly oversees the SCPD and the Police Auditor--at 420-5020 and demand they introduce legislation for an independent investigation.

"Auditor" Arenson's website, is separate from the SCPD website--which has no apparent link (making independent complaints to Arenson unlikely). It's at

Not that it matters much. Arenson took over the pay of the Citizens Police Review board when City Council abolished the it in 2003. He gets 20-40 G's a year. He has never filed an annual written report to the community. He was however influential in exposing Deputy Chief Kevin Vogel's bogus "investigation" of himself for ordering spying on peaceful political activists New Year's Eve 2006).

If folks do contact any of these officials, please let us know that you did and what resulted.
§Police Side of the Story
155 Center Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95060

DATE/TIME: May 9, 2008 at 4:51 p.m. LOCATION: W Cliff Dr at Columbia St
TOPIC: Battery on a Peace Officer CASE NUMBER: 08S-03960

1. Name: Dawnna Deiss Arrested: [ X ] Yes [ ] No
DOB: 11-15-47 Charges: 243(b) PC
Address: Transient 148(a) PC
11357 HS

2. Name: Linda Allen Arrested: [ X ] Yes [ ] No
DOB: 07-16-47 Charges: 135 PC
Address: Felton 11357 HS

On May 9, 2008, at 4:51 p.m., Santa Cruz Police Department officers responded to reports of several people smoking marijuana in the parking lot at W Cliff Dr and Columbia St. Officers contacted the group and requested identification. One suspect, later identified as Dawnna Deiss, ignored an officer’s repeated request and walked away. When the officer attempted to detain Ms. Deiss, she threw a cup of hot liquid onto his face. Despite being burned, the officer was able to control and eventually take Ms. Deiss into custody. Ms. Deiss was treated and released from Watsonville Community Hospital for injuries she sustained during the arrest.

In the course of this incident, another suspect, later identified as Linda Allen, attempted to conceal evidence by placing two glass marijuana pipes in a nearby trash can.

Ms. Deiss was arrested on charges of battery on a peace officer, resisting arrest, and possession of marijuana. Ms. Allen was arrested on charges of destroying evidence and possession of marijuana.

NOTES BY NORSE: I got this police press release from a media source. It apparently came out this afternoon.

I also left a message with Sergeant LeMoss (he's a sergeant, not an officer) inviting him to tell his side of the story.
Another interview with another witness indicates that LeMoss himself was interviewing witnesses, even though he himself was accused by all the percipient witnesses I spoke of, of being the perpetrator of the crime (excessive force rising to criminal assault at the very least ranging up to assault under cover of authority, home invasion, false imprisonment, and making false police reports).

The media source I spoke with also found it highly peculiar that this press release would be issued at all for such a minor incident. And that it came out so late. This may suggest that the PD had read this indybay story and/or the Sunday radio interviews and was doing PR cover.

Considering the $235,000 settlement the falsely arrested S.F. woman got when her arm was broken for talking back to a jaywalking ticket (see earlier comment above), the PD has a real financial interest in covering this matter up.

Moreover, I saw (and will post) the original citations LeMoss gave Deiss. There's nothing about marijuana there. I suspect this was part of one of the "here comes summer" sweeps to clear the area of downscale "transients" in anticipation of the tourist season. And LeMoss got carried away. Now we get to watch the PD PR machine at work.

For those who can't believe our police get violent without cause, I can only say "wake up". Those accustomed to having their authority obeyed without question, who are armed with guns, tasers, billyclubs, and legal power, get pissed when lowly citizens assert their rights. Particularly when poor lowly citizens do so. Those following the Drug Prohibition War locally and nationally
will not be surprised.

The grim side of all this is that I fear my reportage may have given the police the info they need to fighten the witnesses, cover their tracks, and whitewash LeMoss.

It seems remarkable that they'd concoct and add a marijuana charge days later, but that might be necessary to justify the "marijuana investigation" story. Note too there's no mention of the broken arm or the fact that the jail refused custody.

If any local residents, bicyclists, or walkers -by were witnesses to this scene, please post or call 423-4833. Please contact anyone who might be such a witness. It looks like there's lots of cooking going on in the police kitchen.
Add Your Comments
Listed below are the latest comments about this post.
These comments are submitted anonymously by website visitors.
Robert Norse
Thu, May 29, 2008 3:28PM
momma chloe
Wed, May 28, 2008 11:42PM
Neil Mick
Tue, May 27, 2008 1:49PM
Mon, May 26, 2008 8:54AM
Sum Dim
Sun, May 25, 2008 6:25AM
Sat, May 24, 2008 11:40AM
Robert Norse
Sat, May 24, 2008 10:47AM
Fri, May 23, 2008 12:26PM
Fri, May 23, 2008 12:25PM
Sum Dim
Wed, May 21, 2008 10:07PM
We are 100% volunteer and depend on your participation to sustain our efforts!


$55.00 donated
in the past month

Get Involved

If you'd like to help with maintaining or developing the website, contact us.


Publish your stories and upcoming events on Indybay.

IMC Network