“Uncle Mike” Perkins describes Anaheim police murder of his nephew Justin.


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Image stolen from Weekly (my phone is broken)

I think I know why Uncle Mike’s testimony was so affecting, at yesterday’s press conference on the October 2018 Anaheim police murder of his nephew Justin Perkins:  the big macho-looking former Knott’s Berry Farm entertainer perfectly expressed the impotent rage, guilt and regret that we all feel for failing to prevent the unnecessary killings by our appointed, employed “law enforcement.”

Denied the body-cam footage, or much other explanation, we and the family and friends of this beloved, mentally-challenged roadie don’t even know what the original complaint was that led to officers Shiao Wang and Kenny Lee beating and choking Justin to death.  So the best we can do is live through it as Uncle Mike unforgettably relives it here. (Thanks to Roussan Joshua Collins for the video…)

“Morning, thank you for coming.  My nephew, who I think would never hurt a fly, seems to have ‘hurt someone’ bad enough to where they needed to have him beaten to death, and died at their hands, because he had done nothing wrong that morning, in my book, that warranted his death.  My nephew avoided confrontation.  He was a big man.  I called him Hercules.  He was like a rock.  But he did not do drugs.  He did not do alcohol.  If he drank, he drank like I do:  teetotaler once in a blue moon. 

Justin at right, in “Annie Get Your Gun.”

“And his attitude was … maybe childish, ’12 years old’ or whatever, but the attitude he had was the attitude we need to have, was loving people, not giving them a title to where it is not them that they’re talking about.  And when my nephew, who has not a voice any more, has to use OUR voice to make you understand: there is a difference between a drug addict and a mentally challenged person, be it a man or a woman.  They are loved by their family, and protected by them. 

“And when they are yanked out of their home, and beaten to death in front of you, and you cannot stop them because they are officials of the law, and you have to abide by that.  I say this now:  They need to be re-trained.  They have to know the difference between a mentally challenged person and a drug addict.  [Here I whispered supportively to Vincent Valenzuela’s aunt Marie Cofinco, “Even if he WERE a drug addict, that doesn’t excuse the violence.”]  I could tell the difference.  All of you could probably tell the difference. 

“But if you hear the hearsay of someone telling them, and they have that attitude when they come to the door, and when that door is opened, their mind is already set then.  [Attorney:  “He was the witness.”]  I was the witness.  I came out of my house, my home, and I see to  my left a black ball just rumbling around, and I couldn’t tell what it was and I’m looking for Justin.  And he pops up out of the ball, and I couldn’t believe it, I yelled, ‘ JUSTIN, I’M COMING!’  [Mother: “It looked like he was getting mugged.”]

“And I’m running to him, and I get about seven or eight feet away from him, and I’m ready to attack, and then I see badges and guns, and I see they’re police officers, and I’m taught not to attack the police.  And I’m yelling at them, ‘Please stop hitting him, he’s bipolar, he doesn’t know what you’re doing, he’s got a mind-set of a twelve-year-old.’  They didn’t want to hear, they kept yelling at me, ‘Stand back five feet!’  And they were punching and they were hitting, and he went back down into the ball. 

“And he just gets in this defensive mode and he’s coming backward toward me, and I know he’s thinking ‘Uncle Mike is gonna come and save me,’  and they’re beating him more, and the one senior officer drops down, I didn’t know what he had, and he had a taser all this time, and he’s been tasing my nephew all this way, and the other one is beating him in the face and in the body and in the neck, and then the senior throws down his taser and he pulls out a metal baton, and he slings it, and I couldn’t believe was he was pulling out, and he started beating on his head and his neck and his shoulders… and then the rookie (I call him the rookie cuz he was just a kid) he pulls out HIS baton and he swings it, almost hit me right in the face, and he’s yelling ‘Stand back five feet!’  and he starts on the butt and the back of the legs, and one of them would go high and the other one go low, and then he’d go high, and I’m like ‘Unhand him’ [?]

“And then he yells at me ‘HE BIT ME!  HE BIT ME!’ and I’m like ‘Oh my god,’ and the senior throws down his baton, and I just see him go STRAIGHT FOR THE CHOKEHOLD around the neck, and the other one is still beating him on his back, and Justin’s shirt is riding up and you can see welts all over his back, and I’m like ‘Oh my God, please stop!’  And the senior’s just trying to pull him down, just yanking his head off, and the rookie’s yelling ‘Face down on the ground!’ and he can’t, his legs are under him, and the senior’s pulling him down and I’m like ‘Please!  Stop!’  And the rookie tells me ‘Stand back five feet!’  and then I do and then all of a sudden I see Justin’s arm coming around, and the kid says, “Grab his arm!’  and I’m like ‘You just told me to stand back, and now you want me to grab my nephew’s arm!?’

“So I grabbed his arm and I told him ‘Justin, it’s me, it’s Uncle Mike, PLEASE just relax, okay, we’re gonna get this all taken care of.  So he relaxed his arm, and they brought it back and they handcuffed him, and I’m ‘okay everything’s fine.’  So the senior said he was gonna take him to the squad car, and told the other officer, and I said to Justin, I’m in my underwear, and I said ‘I need to get my pants and my shoes and my clothes and I’ll be right back.’ 

“And I ran inside, for less than a minute, but before I got inside they stood him up, and I couldn’t believe they were trying to say this was from [the older cop’s finger] being bit, Justin’s both nostrils and his mouth – I’ll never get rid of that – just blood – just like somebody turned on a faucet – it just gushed out of him.  I couldn’t believe that, like oh my god, I go running inside and I come running back out with my clothes on, and they’re at the end of the hallway, and Justin starts to stumble, and steps on the senior’s foot, and I see the senior, he’s getting mean, and then Justin just turns and falls down, and he died right there. 

“And I’m yelling, he’s stopped breathing, he’s stopped breathing!  And the kid’s putting his hand on his face, ‘He’s not breathing.’  And I’m I TOLD YOU.  And then the senior starts pounding on him and putting the handcuffs around him, and I’m like ‘God, just take the handcuffs off him!’  And the kid’s yelling ‘Go stand over by the cars and tell the ambulance where we’re at,’ and I’m like ‘YOU JUST KILLED HIM, [unintelligible]’ and he’s all ‘SOMEBODY’S gotta tell them where we are.’ And I can hear the ambulance, they’re still a while away, and they’re pounding on his heart. 

“Finally when the ambulance and fire truck get there they just pass by, they pulled up in front, and from there I don’t know, they put me in the police car, I was at the station for six hours, well I’m telling you, I wanted to know but they wouldn’t let me know if he was alive or not.   He died a few times, then they put him on life support, then he dies on his birthday, oh my God… [throws down some things in rage] I can’t handle this – first his Dad then him, who else has to die?  We gotta train these guys properly…”

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Justin’s family is being represented by famed civil rights attornys John Burris and DeWitt Lacy, who are contending several civil rights violations against Officers Wang and Lee – including wrongful death, excessive force, and denial of medical care. “There is no indication that he was involved in any kind of horrendous, illegal activity that justified the level of force employed and directed against him,” Burris said of Perkins. “My office has taken up his cause. He had a right to live. He had a right to a full enjoyment of life.”

And to remind you of context:


About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.