On August 1, sales clerk Jim Rudolph was getting ready to close Now and Zen in Cruz Bay when a rental vehicle pulled alongside the shop.
“Is it okay if we park here just to pick up a pizza,” Rudolph said the male driver asked him.
Rudolph told the man it would be fine, as long as he was coming right back, he explained.
The female occupant went up to Cafe Roma while the male stayed in the vehicle and almost immediately V.I. Police Department Police Officer Derrick Callwood arrived and — despite two local vehicles parked nearby — started to write a traffic citation to the rental car, Rudolph explained.
“When I saw the officer writing a ticket, I said to him, ‘come on, give the guy a break, you don’t have to give him a ticket,’” said Rudolph.
Callwood stopped writing the ticket and instead placed Rudolph under arrest. Rudolph, who has no criminal record, said did not understand what was happening to him.
“He told me that I was arrested for interfering with him while he was carrying out his official duties, that I was going to jail, and my bail would be $1,500,” said Rudolph.
Rudolph was taken to the Leander Jurgen Command where he learned that residents cannot post bail on St. John. While arrestees can be held in Cruz Bay, they are transported to St. Thomas to post bail.
At the time of his arrest — and during the night he spent at Jurgen Command — Rudolph was never read his rights, or offered the opportunity to make a phone call, he said.
The following morning, Sunday, August 2, Rudolph was transported to the Bureau of Corrections on St. Thomas where he was placed in a jail cell at about 9 a.m., he explained.
St. John resident “Kent” Johnston arrived at about the same time to hand deliver the $1,500 bail, but ran into another problem, according to Johnston.
“The front desk officer told me I could not post the bail money because the police department has lost the key to the room with the lock box,” Johnston said.
The only person who had the key was the VIPD District Chief, who was not responding to phone calls, Johnston said he was told.
“I’m really sorry, you are doing what you are supposed to do, but we can’t do our jobs,” Johnston said a desk officer told him.
On Monday morning, August 3, Rudolph was ordered out of his jail cell, without knowing where he was going or why, he explained. He found out by questioning other prisoners that he was being taken for his advice of rights hearing at V.I. Superior Court, he explained.
“I was really beginning to wonder if I was in the United States,” Rudolph said.
V.I. Magistrate Judge Alan Smith heard Callwood’s testimony and found probable cause to uphold the charges against Rudolph.
Callwood said under oath that he felt threatened and feared for his safety due to Rudolph’s behavior, that he repeatedly told him to “stand back” as he was writing the citation, and that Rudolph refused, according to Rudolph.
Smith scheduled Rudolph’s arraignment for August 27 and released him on his own recognizance at about 10:30 a.m. As Rudolph exited the court room he again heard the words, “put your hands behind your back,” being spoken by Callwood, he explained.
Rudolph spent the rest of the day being booked and processed for an arrest for which he had already appeared in court and been released on his own recognizance, he said.
He finally left the St. Thomas jail at about 3:30 p.m.
Rudolph’s incident report, completed by Callwood, lists delaying and obstructing justice while interfering with an officer discharging his duties; disobeying a lawful order after refusing to comply with an officer who was on a traffic stop; and refusing several times to step away when told to do so by an officer.
Defense attorney Samuel Joseph entered a plea of “not guilty” on Rudolph’s behalf at the August 27 arraignment before Judge Kathleen Mackey.
While awaiting his trial, Rudolph came forward with his story because he sincerely hoped that, “by sharing how he was treated by an officer of the VIPD with the general public, it might lead to changes that would prevent another resident or tourist from being treated in the same way.”
In an August 21 written response to St. John Tradewinds, VIPD Commissioner Novelle Francis stated all “questions posed are best answered by the Attorney General’s office.”
Francis suggested that Rudolph file a complaint with the Internal Affairs Bureau if he felt “an officer of the VIPD had acted inappropriately.”