NEWS PROVIDED BY ArtByTrade June 21, 2021, 22:21 GMTSHARE THIS ARTICLE
Police brutality victim, Brittany Chrishawn, launches the official website for The LMLM Network where women survivors can unite and be heard.
UNITED STATES, June 21, 2021 /EINPresswire.com/ — On May 13, 2021, Brittany Chrishawn (Williams-Moore) celebrated the one year anniversary of her survival of police brutality. In celebration, she released a video showing her recovery progress over the past year with never seen before footage. But most importantly, she launched the official website for The LMLM Network where women survivors of police brutality can join together and have their voices heard.
LMLM stands for “Love me or leave me”, and the network was created after Brittany Chrishawn produced an award-winning film about police brutality (Illville) and was then coincidentally brutalized by JSO police. She later decided that she could help herself and others through film.
After releasing her body camera video and revealing to the world how she’d been wrongfully beaten and sexually harassed by male police officers, many other women reached out to Brittany with similar stories that have gone untold. So, The LMLM Network gives other women survivors of police brutality a chance to share their stories and support one another.
“It’s difficult being a woman survivor of police brutality. All of the focus is usually on victims who lose their lives, so many of us survivors go unheard and uncared for. No one really thinks about the sexual aspect of a woman being overpowered by men with badges. And a lot of the time, we’re not just brutalized but sexually harassed and assaulted as well. We have trauma on a whole other level to live with for the rest of our lives that people aren’t thinking about. We desperately need a support system, and it absolutely helps to be heard.” Brittany says.
Last year, Brittany survived what many are saying is one of the most disturbing attacks by police caught on camera. She was brutalized by multiple JSO policemen after Officer A. Carmona randomly trespassed on her property. And without the release of her body camera video in December 2020, no one would have ever known how blatant and brutal her attack was. So, as she recovered from broken teeth and damaged nerves, she realized how impactful film is and how much it can help victims like herself. It dawned on her that without the skills acquired from making Illville, the police brutality film she’d won several awards for right before she was brutalized by police, her survival story might have gone untold like many others. So she created The LMLM Network to give other women survivors of police brutality a voice through documentary film. And she calls the documentary Survival Stories.
So far, Brittany has interviewed other women survivors and anti-police brutality advocates in Jacksonville, FL including Florida House Rep. Angie Nixon and Co-Founder of the Jacksonville Community Action Committee (JCAC) Christina Kittle who are to be featured in Survival Stories.
Through the official website, LMLMnetwork.com, women can submit their stories to be featured in the documentary. And women who join the online network are also given access to a support system of women who’ve survived police brutality. This community of women provide helpful guidance and resources gathered from their own personal experiences to help the next survivor heal and seek justice.
“I remember shedding many tears feeling alone and hopeless. So, I want this online space to be a place where we can discover ways to cope and work towards real change. I want us to be in unity telling anyone who stands against us – you know what, you can ‘Love me or leave me.’ as we collectively conquer.” says Brittany Chrishawn.
For the past 11 months, a cloud of uncertainty has loomed above Brittany Chrishawn Williams’ head. The 30-year-old Black film producer was arrested inside her Jacksonville, Florida, home last May. Officers showed up after she called 911 to report a deputy who parked his squad car in her driveway and refused to leave when she asked him to vacate her property.
When other Jacksonville deputies arrived, they tackled the 98-pound woman, kneeled on her neck, slammed her face to the floor and fractured two of her teeth. Officers then arrested Williams amid accusations she brandished a gun, threatened to shoot officers, kicked a deputy in the hip as he placed her into custody and threw a spoon at the officer sitting in her driveway.
She was ultimately charged with battery on the two deputies. Both counts carry up to five years in prison.
In a pair of motions filed last month, Williams’ attorneys petitioned a judge to dismiss both felony counts of battery against law enforcement. They argued that if not dropped, the charges should be reduced misdemeanor battery charges.
“I don’t even want to accept even a misdemeanor, but that’s the strategy they’re taking” Williams told Atlanta Black Star during a phone interview Friday morning. “I get that because then we can work on getting the misdemeanors dropped. But I just need those charges dropped because it’s almost a year later, and I’m dealing with the emotional and mental stresses of having to fight this case. And having that held over my head, you know, that I could still be going to prison for something that’s so obvious. Like, I shouldn’t be dealing with this.”
Prosecutors from the Fourth Circuit State Attorney’s Office made a March 29 filing to strike Williams’ dismissal motions. Her attorneys said they will battle against that strike motion during a pre-trial hearing at 9 a.m. Monday inside the Duval County Courthouse.
“When the alleged batteries were committed, the officers were acting unlawfully,” Williams’ lead attorney Jeff Chukwuma told Atlanta Black Star. “So even if we believe that she allegedly committed a battery, the most she could be charged with is misdemeanor battery. So for both of the counts, this is a legal argument. One that’s not to go to the jury, but more so for the judge to decide. And that’s why we have to present it in the manner in which we did, as a motion to dismiss.”
Williams has maintained since last year’s ordeal that she was wrongfully arrested. She alleges it was she who was the victim of an assault by officers. In their motion, her attorneys argue deputies had no warrant to enter Williams’ residence and no legal authority to ambush the woman in her own home.
The incident occurred May 13. Patrol deputy Alejandro Carmona-Fonseca backed his cruiser into Williams’ driveway to check emails and finish up paperwork on a domestic dispute call he’d just handled. When she came out and asked him to vacate her property, he told her he was just checking emails and would be leaving shortly, according to an arrest report. But Williams said Carmona berated and threatened her, then refused to leave. When she told him she was calling 911, she said the deputy laughed and told her they’d just call him.
Williams was so shaken by the remarks that she went into her home and armed herself with a semi-automatic pistol while she spoke to dispatchers. Carmona remained in the driveway. Dispatchers relayed to responding deputies the message that Williams was armed and would shoot Carmona if he approached her property. When a backup officer C. Padgett arrived, purportedly to get Carmona to leave, Carmona told him to arrest Williams for tossing a spoon at him through his open window.
“She’s 10-15. So if she comes out and talks to you, she’s immediately, for throwing that at me,” he told Padgett as Williams yelled to the officers from her front porch. “She threw that in my car window.”
Ten codes for Jacksonville first responders list “10-15” as a code for “prisoner in custody.” Padgett wrangled Williams into custody moments after talking to Carmona. He tackled her in her front foyer as she retreated into her home. Her gun fell to the floor during the violent takedown, deputies alleged in the arrest report. Williams denies that claim.
“B—h kicked me in the leg,” Padgett said moments after the arrest.
Even after Williams was in cuffs, bodycam video showed Carmona defending his stance that he didn’t have to move from the property.
“Brother, this is a public access driveway,” the deputy told her husband. “It is not illegal for someone to stop here. It’s not.”
An internal investigation by the Sheriff’s Office seems to bolster the claims of Williams and her attorneys that she posed no threat. Following her arrest, deputies considered petitioning the court for a risk protection order, or RPO, which would’ve prohibited her from owning or possessing any firearms for up to a year. Law enforcement can ask a judge to impose the temporary weapons ban on a person who threatens violence, has recurring mental health issues or is deemed dangerous. It’s a provision of a gun safety bill that Florida lawmakers quickly passed in the aftermath of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February 2018, which left 17 people dead. RPOs, also known as “red flag laws,” are commonly used to disarm mentally ill gun owners who pose a danger to themselves or others.
One of the deputies on scene repeated that Williams “threatened to shoot the police.” But Jacksonville Sgt. J.R. O’Neal reviewed Williams’ dispute with officers and determined there was no “credible threat” for an RPO. O’Neal, an investigator in the Sheriff’s Office’s RPO unit, reviewed the 911 calls, dispatch notes, radio transmissions and footage from three deputies’ body worn cameras. He found no recent history of violence, substance abuse or mental illness in Williams’ background.
O’Neal acknowledged that Williams’ told dispatchers she was armed with a weapon. During her 911 call, she made comments like, “…if I pull my gun on him and he shoot me and kill me, then, what I’m a do?” Deputies who responded to the call took those remarks as threats against them. But O’Neal said Williams “at no point made threats to use or brandish the firearm during her recorded interaction with officers.” She armed herself for protection inside her house, but never made any direct threats to shoot officers and didn’t brandish the weapon when she stepped on her front porch to argue with deputies, O’Neal indicated.
Chukwuma and Landon Ray, his co-counsel on the case, are both former prosecutors who spent four years trying hundreds of cases in Broward County, Florida. Ray said the evidence doesn’t support officers’ battery allegations against Williams and didn’t warrant the level of force they used to drag her out of her home. He also cited some of the “outrageous” comments deputies made at the scene, which were captured on body cameras.
“If we were the prosecutor on this case, we would have dismissed this case immediately,” Ray said. “And then once we started looking into it, I mean, one thing led to another and it just didn’t seem right.
“Just on the principle of fairness and equity, we were astonished that this case got to the point where it is right now,” he added.
Prosecutors did not file charges in the case until Oct. 30. Williams publicly released large snippets of the body cam footage on social media in December.
In last month’s motions to dismiss, her attorneys argued it was a “non-arrest” situation and Williams posed no danger or threat. They indicated neither Padgett or Carmona were engaged in their official duties as officers when the alleged battery incidents took place. According to the motions, Carmona was trespassing on her private property. Meanwhile, Padgett unlawfully entered Williams’ residence without a search warrant to make the arrest, and there were no exigent circumstances to justify the deputy’s entry.
“Padgett made it seem as if he were there to help Ms. Williams, stating that he was there to assist her because she called the police,” the motion stated. “Instead of helping her, Officer Padgett rushed into Ms. Williams’ home, grabbed her by her arms, tackled her to the ground, and started slamming her face into the ground.”
Assistant State Attorney Richard Giglio said Williams’ motion to dismiss is legally insufficient, in large part because Williams has never admitted that a battery against the deputies even took place.
“Defendant simply seeks to dismiss the state’s information without having to fully admit to the facts of her conduct under oath should her motion ultimately be unsuccessful,” Giglio wrote.
But Chukwuma maintained that the charges should be dismissed based on the use of force and damages alone, not to mention the injuries he said the officers inflicted on Williams.
“I mean, she’s 5’2” and 99 pounds,” he said. “That alone is reason enough to drop this case. You’re talking about somebody who has no prior criminal history. Someone who doesn’t have as much as a speeding ticket, who literally had one officer put his knee on her neck. Another officer sat on her, slammed her head into the ground causing her to lose two front teeth while twisting her arm. And you’re going to say, when all of that happened, she kicked you?”
Coping with tragedy through art
In 2019, months before her real-life drama, Williams co-wrote, produced and appeared in a film about police brutality called “Illville.”
She’s used her artistic expression as way to cope. Now she’s using it as a tool of empowerment to triumph over her wounds.
Williams recently launched the LMLM Network, which she envisions as a platform for women to speak out about the abuses they’ve endured at the hands on men, particularly male authority figures.
“It’s terrible when you feel like you’re alone and you’re the only one dealing with something. And it’s like you against the world,” Williams said. “That’s how I was feeling.”
LMLM is an acronym for “Love Me or Leave Me,” a reggae song that Williams heard often as child growing up with Jamaican roots. The song became a motto that she told herself whenever someone hurt her.
It’s part of the solace she’s always found in film and music. But Williams felt stripped of those creative outlets after last year’s ordeal. She had attorneys telling her to stay off social media and be quiet about the case. There was no sense of relief
“Without being able to create and speak through my art, I just was feeling so empty and I was feeling lonely, just really down and depressed,” Williams said. “I was dealing with a lot of just emotional struggles because I felt like I didn’t have any way to express myself and tell my story the best way I know how, which is through film and music.”
In September, Williams started working on a documentary to detail her own personal journey in the wake of her police encounter, focusing on the emotional trauma, paranoia, and ongoing struggles she dealt with. It was a way to provide herself some therapy. But other women began sharing their abuse stories with Williams, and she began incorporating their confessionals into the docuseries, which is titled “Survival Stories.”
The film will feature conversations with Florida State Rep. Angie Nixon, Jacksonville Community Action Committee co-founder Christina Kittle, Tanisha Crisp, the founder of BLM 5K in Jacksonville, and Diamonds Ford.
“I want it to be a global network of women who can have this support system and share their stories through film,” Williams said of LMLM.
Like Williams, Ford faces criminal charges from her own tumultuous run-in with law enforcement at her Jacksonville home last September. The 28-year-old woman opened fired when a Jacksonville sheriff’s deputies did a drug raid at her home while she was sleep. Ford claimed she fired her gun in self-defense and didn’t know it was law enforcement forcing their way into her home. She struck SWAT officer Robert M. Nauss IV three times in his bulletproof police vest and was charged with attempted murder. Ford is now out of jail on bond facing the prospect of life in prison if she’s convicted.
“I just feel like us joining forces, us working together, it makes us stronger,” Williams said. “Divide and conquer is something real, and us trying to keep our stories and our situation separate, that’s not going to help anybody. We have to join forces and speak out together and fight this thing together. Because we’re both fighting the same monster at the same time.”
Brittany Chrishawn has created LMLM to empower women who’ve survived male brutality by producing documentaries about their stories.
Nationwide — Brittany Chrishawn (Williams), the award-winning police brutality filmmaker who was brutalized herself by police, has created a network to help protect and empower women. The network is called LMLM which stands for ‘Love Me or Leave Me’ and is sponsored by ArtByTrade – the production company responsible for Brittany’s renowned film Illville. The LMLM Network gives a voice to women who’ve survived male abuse and provides them with an opportunity to tell their story through a documentary film.
LMLM was created by Brittany Chrishawn after JSO male police officers trespassed on her property for no reason, entered her home without a warrant, and brutalized her. Brittany is 5’2’’ and only weighs 98 lbs. The police left her with broken teeth and nerve damage causing a neurological disorder dubbed ‘the suicide disease’ (CRPS). This traumatic event is what inspired Brittany to create LMLM (Love Me or Leave Me).
Brittany started fighting for social justice through art years before becoming a victim of male police brutality. And Illville, the first film she produced, was ironically about police brutality. The film has won several festival awards with its most recent nomination being a finalist for Best Series Pilot at the 12th Annual TASTE Awards in February 2021. Brittany is now incorporating her filmmaking background into LMLM as a means of giving back to the community. She knows firsthand that women who are abused by men often feel like they are alone in the world and like they have no avenue to get their voices heard. So the documentaries produced through LMLM will creatively shed light on women who have survived male brutality and will encourage women who are victims to seek help and make a change.
LMLM also encourages women to “Wear the brand and spread the love!” through its clothing brand and online shop. The sizes range from XS to 5X and come in a multitude of colors. And merchandise sales help cover production costs for the documentaries.