Wednesday evening Boulder city police knocked on my door and arrested me in my pajamas while playing with my daughter for not killing our missing cat. I’ve spent an entertaining 30 hours in the county jail, made some colorful friends and learned three new card games.
As I was being hauled off one of the cops said, “hey, wasn’t there a minor there?”. They asked if anyone else was home and I answered truthfully that I didn’t know. One went back and my wife, just out of the shower, answered. He let her know and left. I was not allowed to communicate with anyone, don’t recall them reading rights, and never got a phone call.
I was spitting mad, and chewed them out all the way to jail. I think I saw one cry. They refused to show me the warrant they claimed to have, saying it was available at the jail. I’ve pursued it diligently and still haven’t seen it or heard the particulars. Haven’t seen the complaint it’s based on either, just the initial ticket.
Once at the jail they uncuffed me and I watched a variety of people come in, get processed and sent into the bowels. There were some broken chairs, a tv and bathrooms. Most people were there about three hours, I was there around six. Figured I wouldn’t be in jail long so I made up my mind to hear as many stories as possible, analyze how things operated and see how I might do it differently. Deputies kept asking me if I would like to pay money and get out of jail, but I pointed out I was in my pajamas and my handkerchief and wedding ring had been confiscated. A Wisconsin man ten years my senior had been arrested a few times and gave me a fairly accurate summary. He was there because his truck had slid on the ice (there’d been a foot of snow couple days before) into another car and the cops thought he might have been drunk. His truck was impounded but they released him after a few hours. Those people who did get to make phone calls struggled to remember a useful phone number. After a few hours of loudly denouncing the system I settled into Zazen, and a woman asked me if I was ready for my interview. I went with her and a deputy came along to loom over me. “First you have to swear an oath, then I’ll ask you some questions”. I asked what the oath was and they handed me a sheet of sufficiently complex legalese that I declined. When they fingerprinted me I was tickled to see that under aliases they had typed, “Sheriff, of Love”.
I got to the intake cell around 3AM wearing a red outfit with BCSO emblazoned on the back, was handed a bag of bedding and sent to share cell 4 with a small young hispanic man (Martin?) who had been processed earlier. He was coughing, slept the whole time I was there, and appeared to have been severely beaten. Our cells were buzzed open at 5AM to the holler of “breakfast!”. I went down to inspect and meet folks, but they weren’t feeling social. It was a brown tray with unidentifiable brown foods. Except the orange, which I ate. A table in the middle of the room had a stack of papers and folders with “DON’T TOUCH MY SHIT!” on it, and turned out to belong to the enormous black gangster-looking fellow in the almost-normal clothing. He worked closely with the deputies, never seemed to be in lockdown, and cleaned the public areas twice a day. I tried but failed to connect. Doughnut, the large latino gangster-looking type who had arrived with me scribbled, “I touched your shit” when he wasn’t looking. They managed to connect over evil glances and literal strutting.
I tried some broken Korean on the sad asian, who turned out to be a visiting Korean professor to the University of Colorado, there on domestic violence charges. He’d had a loud argument with his wife and the neighbors had called the police. He was very concerned for her and their four children, and rather confused in broken English. A Coloradan first-timer was there on similar charges after arguing with his girlfriend in the house they built together, and completely ashamed of the situation.
Darren the heroin junkie struggled with a dislocating artificial hip, but proudly announced he was sober since his arrest and looking forward to his new sober future. He worked the room looking for people likely to get out soon, asking them to go to his house and give his dog his meds, for which he had written four copies of instructions prior to arrest. Another suffered from liver cancer, a healing broken back, and “air bubbles in the brain”, all complicated by BCSO’s refusal to give him his meds. He was very disappointed to be spending his 21st Christmas in a row in jail, and dreamed of celebrating one as a free homeless man. Young dread-locked tweaker Richard had no illusions of his lifestyle, lived an obviously careful regimen to address the downsides, and was looking forward to getting back to his stash. He taught me Rummy and I taught him King’s Corners before some weirdness put us all in lockdown.
I thought claiming to be there for non-cat-murder would be seen skeptically, but they all laughed, and one black guy topped me with a story of knocking on a wrong door, getting no answer, leaving and being arrested a couple blocks away for trespassing. Inmates swapped stories comparing different prisons. Gilpin county was the gold-standard, California the hardest to get out of, Chicago the most dangerous. No one there knew anyone who had left a New York jail.
Around 1:30 most of us were herded down to prepare for the in-jail court room with the public defender, where we were all put in handcuffs and chains. The deputy left there to watch us joked with the thieves and gangsters, but seemed generally depressed by the situation and complained how he wanted out of jail. My companions-in-chains teased that I’d be his boss. One young man had been arrested with his wife, who was put in a glass room so they couldn’t communicate except by blowing kisses.
We went to court in two shifts, hispanics first. When I got there I was glad to see my wife had figured out where I was and was sitting in the visitor’s section. The public defender spoke for me and I was given no opportunity to interact directly with the judge. The Korean’s wife had been sitting there with a crying child for hours, as had the girlfriend of the other guy. The judge offered to release me on $500 bond that day or $50 bond the next day. Doughnut gloated over all of the errors on his complaint, e.g. described as 120lb. man. One unfortunate young Native-American woman cried as she explained how her wallet and identity had been stolen to commit the frauds she was accused of hundreds of miles away, that she had previously reported it and that her boss had already submitted testimony that she was at work making bread here in Boulder. The judge was unsympathetic, could not lower the bond, and she was to be extradited and prosecuted. Darren wanted to post his $120k bond, but there were already too many liens for bond against his house. After he dies there in jail the court will seize his house.
The only person to appear on charges of murder, Ian Scheuermann, walked in from the visitor’s center in a well-tailored suit, had his picture taken as his family paused proceedings and directed the news crew, was lectured by the judge, and walked out as his $100k bond had already been posted in cash.
Ian Scheuermann appears in court at the Boulder County Jail on Thursday. Scheuermann has been charged with second-degree murder and felony menacing in connection to a fatal stabbing in downtown Boulder. (Cliff Grassmick / Staff photographer)
After 3.5 hours in chains we went back to intake, where I played some lively rounds of spades with the gangsters before lockdown. I finally ate, as I had acted on advice from the thieves and filed paperwork claiming to be a gluten-free Jew (it still cramped me up). Around midnight my name called out, saying I was to be released. My wife had gotten impatient and posted bail.
My Name is Toby Fernsler, and my message is Love.
P.S. My next court appearance at 6th and Canyon is scheduled for Friday, January 15th 2016 at 8:30AM in courtroom E. For my own safety and success I would very much appreciate friends and witnesses to be in attendance. Please share this post.