1995 when Benjamen Pickering was ten years old he sustained a massive head injury that left him
blind in his left eye and with difficulties with reading. He needed tutors. His skull was split from the back of his head to the front between his eyes. He had other injuries and has worked hard to improve an ataxic gait. He suffers from emotional deregulation; stress makes him nearly delirious.
Easter Sunday, March 30, 2013, Ben Pickering was hit on the head with an electric guitar at Cory Johnson's home in Long Beach, Washington by Cory Johnson. He ran from the home holding his coat to his head to stop the blood gushing, and into the street where a man stopping in an automobile called an ambulance. He was bleeding profusely. At the hospital he received ten staples to the right side top of his skull. He was told to rest his head for six months. Among the 15 or so people present were Cory Johnson, Cory's son and their respective girl friends. Cory's son has been convicted of domestic violence and heroin selling. Other people present were Brian Wolfe, Chris White, Jason Hall and several others. None of these called an ambulance. Ben wanted to press charges and began getting death threats which he felt put him in eminent danger of his life. So after the staples were removed on April 8,
when the death threats came, he thought he would move to Portland, Oregon where he had lived
2013 and before. He was met at the bus by Eddie Gates, the father of Ben's nephew by Ben's twin sister who let Ben stay with him a couple of days while Ben found a place to stay. Ben met some guys (may be 4 guys) who would let him rent a couch. After being there a couple of days, one of the men propositioned Ben for sex in exchange for
rent. Ben was disgusted. When Ben was showering, his money and his ID was stolen from his clothes. They saw that he had money in his shoe and at knife point stole it from him and told him to leave. He was upset and wanted his ID and money back. They called the police. Ben was outside when the police arrived and he tried to tell them what had happened. The police went up the stairs to the house to confront the guys and
Ben told the police he was handicapped and that these men had stolen from him at knife point. Ben says that the police said, "It sounds like you are the one with the problem." Ben had the police call his sister Kimberly and they asked her if Ben was 'high'. Then they told Ben to leave and not come back in this neighborhood. Ben said "What about my money? My ID? I'm disabled. I don't have anywhere to go." The police did not write a report.
the one that propositioned him for sex came to the door. Somewhere nearby there was a Plaid Panty (probably) with a large parking lot. Ben could not sleep. He spent the night cleaning the parking lot and by dawn he had calmed down. When he went to go in the store to find a place to wash his hands a worker insulted him and told him to leave. The next thing seems to be that a crisis unit was called and four girls and a policeman showed up and gave him food. Ben hung around in the neighborhood for a couple more days. He was not allowed to go into the quicky mart because he looked like a vagrant…which he
Ben was scared. He had never slept on the streets. He had no cell phone to contact family. He always had someone to go to when
sort of was.
he found it difficult to know where he was for what things meant. His social security representative payee absconded with his funds and was unfindable most of the time. Next he was at a bus stop and police stopped him. He told them he was thirsty. They offered him an opened bottle of water that was warm. He asked why it was warm and was told that "It is the water we use to wash peoples' eyes with after we mace them and beat them up. Ha, ha." Ben had a second ID that was not stolen and they took it and went to
their car. THey came back immediately to Ben and said we got to go. "Stay here." They turned on their blue lights , drove away in a hurry and never came back. Ben waited two hours.
Somewhere in here Ben was attacked by a gang of seven teenagers who maced him and probably broke his ribs. Ben slept outside in the bushes by the Grotto. He went back to his nephew's father's house but was not welcome. So he walked back towards Sandy Blvd. and was overheated and thirsty and had not eaten in several days. Walking down Sandy he was chased by
someone who seemed to Ben to be deranged. Ben took his sweater off because he was warm and it was a hot day. His undershirt came with it, so for a brief time he had no shirt on. He folded the sweater up and left it for the man that was heckling him, and put his undershirt back on. He made it to the Ace Tavern and went in to get a drink of water. As he sat at the bar drinking a free glass of water four police officers came up behind him. They touched his right arm. Ben thought it may have been his nephew's father with a change of heart to let him stay at his house. Ben got off the bar stool and turned around while standing up only to be told he was under arrest. Ben was startled and pulled back. The police accused him of resisting arrest and threw him to the ground. One of them pushed his knee repeatedly on Ben's head crushing it against the bar room floor saying "I can't believe it doesn't break. You pussy you can take it!" Meanwhile Ben was telling them that
he was handicapped. When they threw him to the floor Ben arched away from hitting his only seeing eye on a nearby chair. Perhaps this was what was thought to be resisting arrest. Ben had recently had corrective surgery on his left, non-seeing eye because his gaze was not conjugate, with the left eye pulling to the outside. At this time his left face was dragged along the floor bruising it and causing his left eye to bleed.
Ben was taken to MCDC (the county booking jail) and put in a restraining cell
Two officers came to the window of this cell and made obscene sexual comments to him. Ben was appalled and hit the window with his fist. Both officers apologized to him. Ben cried all night at his bad luck not knowing
where he was promised food that never arrived. what was to become of him. In the morning he heard "the girl", probably a nurse
To which a male officer responded "Yeah, we have nothing on him. We checked every nearby state. His bruises will go away in a couple of days."
or female officer come to his cell and say "I guess we can release him."
Ben was released after being asked to sign a
document of some kind, release papers? (Because of Ben's head injury disability, Ben is challenged in reading.) They refused to read the form to him. Ben asked if he could get the four badge numbers of the officers who had arrested him, and learn how long they had been on the force. He was roughly told "Just get out of here before I think of something else to lock you up for."
Ben went out of the building. A couple of police cars were parked along the street. Ben stopped to look into them. He was told in no uncertain terms to stop looking in them. He walked around the corner to call his sister and sat on a bench. Then he blacked out. An ambulance was called and he was taken to OHSU emergency room (where he was immediately put on a hold and threatened with a shot if he didn't take the pills. At some point an officer named Stuart Palmiter told Ben that he had been treated unfairly. Ben was now downtown. He was hungry and made his way to Blanchet House soup kitchen. After not eating for at lease three days he was hungry and when he tried to sit down another 'guest' began yelling at him that he couldn't sit there. One of the helpers thought Ben was the instigator of the fracas and told him to leave in no uncertain terms. Ben left in a huff and the man screamed after him
Ben was limping from the beating he took from the cops the night before. His head was hurting. Plus he had sore ribs from the gang that beat him up and maced him. His left eye was swollen. And he hadn't eaten
"I'll call the cops on you."
in three days. He had everything stolen and was penniless. No cell phone to call home for help. He had a fork wrapped in a napkin he had inadvertently taken with him
and was so frustrated at his bad luck that he was not in his right mind as his misfortunes piled up with no one to care. He scratched "BEN" on the window of the Blanchet House. Ben knows it wasn't right to damage their property but he was feeling stressed beyond his limits. Squad cars arrived. And Ben again was under their scrutiny. Ben somehow made it to the front of city hall where street people were encamped. They welcomed him and fed him and gave him a place to sleep. Never one to stop working. He weeded the gardens in front of city hall and picked up cigarette butts on both sides of the street. He was grateful for the warm welcome. One time he made a paper airplane and flew it and a squad car showed up. He was taken to the booking jail again for four hours.
Another time when he was stopped the police checked to see who he was, Ben heard them say "Oh, is that disabled kid from Washington?" They drove off in a hurry. Ben took this to mean that his family was looking for him. Ben lives with a traumatic brain injury and constant post traumatic stress disorder. He is not sure he could live through another period of his life like this.