Justice for Yem Albey

Parish: St. Mary

Agencies: St. Mary Parish Sheriff Police Department

My name is Yem Albey and I am 43 years of age, born a Virgo.  I was born in a small town in the State of Louisiana and throughout my life I was partially raised in the State of Texas. Growing up in both states gave me the opportunity of having diversity in my education.  I love and I am proud of my family, as well as our charisma, strength and talents within my family.  I am a mother, a grandmother, and very close to my own mother.  I work in the field of mental health, proving direct support to individuals with mental and physical disabilities.  In my spare time, my hobby is working on my college of premonitions that I have turned into what I consider to be a masterpiece of artwork that illustrates my visions.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Ida in late August 2021, my mother and I were displaced from our homes to a Red Cross Community Shelter in Amelia, Louisiana.  My mother arrived at the shelter ahead of me but when I arrived, it was clear that my mother was already well respected by the close community that had been created at the shelter.  My mother is a healer by nature. My mother helped an unwell woman she came across in the shelter, as a result, when I arrived at the shelter, immediately I received a warm and friendly welcome.  I felt bonded to the community.  Everyone spoke highly of my mother, stating how lucky I was to have a mother like my mother and her being by my side.  We began creating a safe zone.  Although we were not blood related, we were a community family sharing a highly significant story.  Everyone pitched in where they could to make this temporary place of living feel a little bit like a home away from home in what we thought would be a safe environment. 

A day or so after my arrival to the shelter, I was inside of the gym laying on my cot number forty-seven covered under my blanket watching videos on my phone.  Unexpectedly two gentlemen who were previously introduced and an unknown man approached my assigned cot.  The unknown man introduced himself. I spoke politely back to them whilst ending the conversation and thought nothing more of it.  A day or two later, I was talking to my mother and the ladies outside of the shelter when I decided to return to my cot to retrieve my belongings.  On way inside the same man introduced himself to me as the night before. He was seated in the hallway staring at me.  With a feeling of awkwardness, I said “What’s Up” as I continued my way.  The man then tried to call me over asking me to “come see” as he began walking towards me.  I felt very uncomfortable to the point I stopped in my tracks and decided to not go and retrieve my belongings but to turn around and return to my safe zone with my mother and the ladies, whom I had been sitting outside the shelter with.  The man proceeded to follow me outside and stood in the corner beside the glass exit doors where I stood more than six feet away by a white post near my mother and the ladies.  The man continued trying to talk to me when he suddenly reached out and forcefully grabbed my right arm pulling me towards him saying “Come See Me!”  I broke free and pleaded to him “No!” “Don’t touch me!”  “Don’t put your hands on me!”  My mother heard me shouting and stood up asking me who was I talking to?  I then pointed the man out saying, “That man right there, I don’t know him!”  As I turned around to get away from this man, once my back was turned, he then reached out again and attacked me from behind with force aggressively grabbing my buttocks as if he was trying to pull me towards him.  In a panic I broke free once more as I ran away and barricaded myself between my mother and a nearby electrical box for safety.  Once I was able to gain safety amongst my mother and the ladies, we began roaring at the perpetrator.  He then ran back inside of the building.  My mother and I ran inside after him.  I tried to locate the Red Cross staff who oversaw running the shelter, but could not find them; in the meantime, however, someone was able to contact the St. Mary Parish Sheriff Police Department to report the incident.

Officers from the St. Mary Parish Sheriff Police Department eventually arrived at the shelter; at that time I was outside of the shelter sitting in the designated smoking area with my mother and the women who were supporting me.  When I saw the Officers at first, I believed they were there to protect me and would help me.  I tried to explain to the Officers what happened to me, but things took a turn and got worse from that point on.

The Lead Officer who attended was very rude, dismissive and condescending; he had no interest in listening to my truth or the witness evidence.  The Lead Officer asked me to describe the man who assaulted me; upon describing the man who assaulted me, the Officer rudely cut me off then proceeded back into the shelter to look for the man who violated me rather than to take my statement.  Once the Officer returned, he then proceeded to ask me to follow him.  The Officer led me away from my safe zone amongst the group of women, including my mother who stood with me throughout the incident.  The Officer led me around the back side of the shelter building.  We were in a place where we were alone.  The Officer at that point quickly began to side with the perpetrator; the Officer alleged that I had been flirting with the man who assaulted me and that I had been flirting inappropriately with another man near my cot.  Neither of these statements were true but the Officer continued to talk to me with a smirk as if my sexual assault was all a joke to him.  I tried to refute the statement of the Officer and give the true version of events.  Despite trying, the Officer continued to cut me off mid-sentence whilst stating to me in a condescending manner that “This is a shelter!”  as if I had done something immoral and inappropriate.  After the Officer made that statement, he then made a laughing gesture at me.  I felt mortified. At this point I felt the Officer was trying to intimidate me. I felt insulted and humiliated.  This Officer was being sexist and biased against me, I feared that being a Woman of Color influenced his approach towards me.  I just threw my hands up and implored the Officer to keep this man away from me and to make the man leave the shelter.  I left the Officer standing on side of the shelter building and returned to my safe zone, where my mother and peers were standing.  I told my mother and peers what happened, they reacted with disbelief and tried explaining to the Officer what they had witnessed.  Despite this, the Officer continued to dismiss the attempts of witnesses to give their statement.  Instead, the Officer shouted as he left that if it was up to him, he would have the shelter shut down!  Abruptly there was silence.   As a community which had already been displaced in the wake of catastrophic circumstances, we all felt degraded and deeply hurt by those words of the Lead Officer.  The Officer was very insensitive with no remorse for the words spoken displaying such utmost disrespect for the community he sworn to protect and serve.  The Officer did not pursue any action against the man who violated me.

My personal circumstances did not improve after the assault.  Once I was able to return home, I discovered hazardous living conditions with the home.  I began having trouble with my landlord, who then retaliated against me, only given me seven days to vacate the home.  This effectively rendered me and my son, who is a minor, homeless.  At the end of September 2021, I reached out to the St, Mary Sheriff Police Department regarding my sexual assault.  I contacted the station to obtain the case number and a copy of the Police report.  When I received the report from the day of my assault, many basic points were incorrect (for instance, my age was incorrect).  I then reached out in person to St. Mary Sheriff Office and spoke with a Lieutenant and explained what had happened to me and the action of the Lead Officer.  The Lieutenant stated he would investigate and let me know if there was enough evidence to move forward with charges against the perpetrator and make a formal complaint on the Lead Officer.  A few weeks later I received a call from the Lieutenant stating there was enough evidence to pursue charges against the perpetrator and file a complaint against the Lead Officer.  At that time however, I had to pause my pursuit for Justice (against the perpetrator for sexually assaulting me and the Lead Officer for their conduct on that day) due to my living conditions deteriorating.  However, as soon as I was able to in mid-October 2021, I reached out to the St. Mary Parish Sheriff Office again to ask if the Lieutenant and I could coordinate a meeting time, but he never returned my calls.  When I raised my complaint in person to another Lieutenant, he assured me he would investigate my claims but again they failed to return my calls.  On October 30, 2021, I was then unfortunately contacted by the same Lead Officer that responded to my sexual assault at the shelter, the very same Officer I had wanted to file a complaint against.  When I arrived at the St. Mary Parish Sheriff Police Department to sign the affidavit, I noticed several discrepancies from my original statement and tried to bring these to the Lead Officer’s attention; the Lead Officer made the affidavit look like he had taken my statement, but in reality this statement did not reflect what had happened to me.  My version of events was made to look like a complaint that had been dealt with, but it was not.  Instead, a patchwork version of a statement was produced, and the Officer set out his own favorable conclusion about his own conduct on the day of my assault.  It was a slap in my face for St. Mary Parish Sheriff Police Department to assign me to the very same Officer, whom I was attempting to file a complaint against.  The same Officer who was sexist and biased towards me and who yet again made me feel once more as if he was trying to intimidate me.  This is who would end up filling out my affidavit and handling documents connected to my complaint and coming to a determination on his own conduct towards me on that afternoon.  

Despite my best efforts, my sexual assault and Police misconduct claims remained unanswered until the end of July 2022.  I received a call from the DA stating that there was enough evidence to proceed with charges against the perpetrator.  There still has not been any investigation into the misconduct of the Lead Officer and none of the witnesses who saw the incident have been contacted to give their statements.  I have been let down by the St. Mary Parish Sheriff Police Department.  I have been violated, I have been belittled, I have faced sexism, I have been insulted and I have witnessed racial profiling in my presence at the Red Cross Shelter in Amelia La.  I have lost all Faith in the force.  On numerous occasions I requested to file a complaint against the Lead Officer from that day.  I was denied my right to file my complaint, no one was ever available to discuss my complaint.  My calls went unanswered and were not being returned and my pleas in person about my sexual assault and complaint went unanswered.  I believe being a Woman of Color played a part in the way I was treated and being refused my right to file a complaint.  I have not been taken seriously and I have not been heard; I still do not have Justice for what has happened to me on that afternoon, and I am still a woman in distress and in dire need of help to be heard. 

On the afternoon of my sexual assault the Police Officer’s job should have been to protect and serve me at a time I was most vulnerable and needed help.  I did not and still do not feel protected and or served.  I believe being a Woman of Color has been a significant fact in this particular matter.  I was not born with a mental illness but developed a mental illness due to the traumatic events I have endured. 

I am a Native of this land and according to and written in the Bill of Rights and Bill of Human Rights; I have a Right to Equal Protection of the Law, I have the Right to Equality, I have the Right to Human Dignity, and I have the Right to life.  I have the Right to not be discriminated against due to the color of my skin and sex.  I have the Right to Freedom of Speech and the Right to be Heard.

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