Noe Valley Voice July-August 1998

Police Beat: When Violence Hits Home

By Officer Lois Perillo

I am not able to supply you with my usual Noe Valley crime report this month. But I have a good excuse.

On June 10, I was violently assaulted in Oakland by a woman who kicked me in the face and then drove her car into me and my partner's dog, Kishi. The suspect ran over Kishi, who bolted from the scene and didn't come home until 16 hours later, covered in car oil and sporting three deep abrasions.

During the incident, I was catapulted onto the hood of the car. I remember having only one thought as the driver accelerated up the hill: If I don't get off the hood of this car, I'm going to die. So I rolled and landed in the street. I have no recall between my landing on the pavement and my getting up and yelling, "I've been hit! Call 911!" Then I frantically looked for Kishi until this wonderful tall motherly woman grabbed me and held on to me until the ambulance arrived.

Off we went to Highland Hospital -- where I had been only an hour before.

Let me explain. I was at Highland Hospital around midnight June 9, comforting and caring for my partner Heather. Heather had sustained a concussion in a fall from her bicycle and had arrived at the hospital with no i.d. and with absolutely no memory of the past few days, let alone the event that caused her injury. The possibility existed that she'd been the target of a robbery.

We left the hospital at 2 a.m. on June 10 (three hours after Heather's arrival) and went to her home in Oakland. My mission was to observe Heather's recovery, walk her dog, and then check out the robbery angle. I never made it.

Upon leaving the house with the dog, I found an unknown car blocking my car, which I'd parked in Heather's private spot. After several tries, I found the driver of the vehicle, whom I asked, "Why did you park here?" in my usual community police officer style.

The woman's response was verbally abusive, and her stance was combative; she repeatedly closed the distance between us. Despite my identifying myself to her as a police officer and telling her, "I will not fight you," she refused to calm down or move back.

Then a very odd thing happened. A man I did not know arrived on the scene and told me he was there "to protect" me. But he did the opposite. When I called to Heather to order a tow truck, the woman finally agreed to move her car, but not before taking a swing at me in front the man, who said, "I didn't see anything."

Then, after the woman moved her car and walked back toward us, Heather's dog Kishi, who up to this time had remained quiet and calm, suddenly slipped out of her collar. The woman, who had ignored the dog during her verbal rampage, started yelling at me to control the dog.

When I bent down to replace Kishi's collar, the woman kicked me in the face. (Luckily, I was able to turn my head slightly, and she only split my lip.) I immediately told her she was under arrest, grabbed her arm, and pushed her back against her car, which was now parked on the street with no other cars in front of it for about 60 feet. I also repeatedly yelled, "Call 911!"

But then the man who had claimed to be my protector grabbed me from behind and swung me and the dog into the middle of the street. The woman got in her car and drove at us. That's when I got knocked onto the hood, and the dog went under the car.

I sustained a lacerated lip, a large contusion, an abrasion on my head, a neck sprain, a separated shoulder, bruised ribs, a sprained knee, and a broken big toe. By June 24, I had been off work for two weeks and the doctor was advising another three weeks of recuperation. (I hope to be back on 24th Street by mid-July.)

Kishi has amassed $200 in vet bills, but is back to her frisky 9-year-old retriever/ setter self.

Heather's memory has returned, except that she still doesn't know exactly what caused her own injury that night. We're also unsure whether the incident was indeed an attempted robbery. Her helmet cracked thoroughly, absorbing much of the impact of her fall and preventing contusions or abrasions. My friends now tease me that I should only walk the dog wearing a helmet!

As for the suspect in my case, well she got away that night, but I got the license number.

The woman was later located by Oakland Police and interviewed by their investigators. As of this writing, she has not been charged.

I would like to send a heartfelt thanks to all "first responders" -- people who come to the aid of others in peril -- and also to our many friends who continue to amaze us with their expressions of support.

To everyone, be safe, wear a helmet, and know that Officer Lorraine Lombardo is riding solo until my return!

Officer Lois Perillo is a San Francisco police officer who has covered 24th Street for more than eight years. Her beat extends from Valencia to Grand View and 21st to Cesar Chavez streets. To contact her or Officer Lorraine Lombardo, call the community policing line at Mission Station: 558-5404.