It had been a beautiful and fun-filled day at the Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California that April 29, 2017. That is until my life was completely flipped upside down within a matter of hours. This isn’t a story I’m necessarily fond of or proud to tell, but it is an experience I feel compelled to share.
I had put in a significant amount of time organizing a leisurely trip to Pasadena for everyone at my law firm. We were excited to spend time together outside of the office while enjoying excellent spirits and chancing fate with a bit of gambling at the horse races. Most of us had brought our spouses, significant others, or a date.
Hours later, it would all change. My wife of 5 years and I had returned to our hotel room, where we had a few bottles of wine waiting for us. Had I known where that would lead, perhaps it could have all been avoided, but this was not the case.
As the night progressed, Irma became extremely intoxicated. She began to make unfounded accusations, claiming that I had committed adultery. In what I can only describe as an alcohol-fueled rage, she became unrecognizable, hostile, and violent. The situation escalated quickly and there was a lot of yelling. Even when being threatened, it is not in my nature to resort to violence in a situation like this. So, I tried to remain as calm as possible.
Unfortunately, my unwillingness to engage made my wife even angrier. Before I knew it, she was hitting my face, digging her nails into my back, and kicking me. At one point, I was lying down hoping she would calm down when Irma began to use her legs and feet to shove me off the bed. As I fell, my head smacked against the nightstand, causing me to bleed.
The commotion raised concern amongst other hotel guests, who called the front desk to let them know what was happening. The staff sent their security guard to respond to the calls. He first stopped at a room two doors down and spoke to the patrons. They were witnesses who had made a call about the fight they had heard. The guard then proceeded to our room and knocked loudly on the door.
Inside, my spouse continued her attack. Our arguing had become so loud that we couldn’t even hear the knocking at our door. The guard made a second attempt to get our attention with another loud knock. He would later report that he was concerned because he could hear a woman inside our room screaming. He thought he heard her saying, “Don’t!”
With still no response, the security guard contacted law enforcement immediately. Two officers on patrol responded right away. Both were wearing body cams and they were prepared for anything. The guard informed them that he suspected there was a physical altercation occurring inside of our room. They approached the door, knocked, and identified themselves as the Pasadena Police.
This time, Irma stopped to answer the door. The officers asked if anyone else was inside and she told them that I was in there. They asked me to come out of the room. As I did, they could see blood on my head, bruises on my face, and four-inch long fingernail scratches on my back. Given the circumstances, the police assumed that I had been the aggressor. They proceeded to place me in handcuffs and separate us for questioning.
Initially, the officers got very little information out of either one of us. Because they had initially viewed me as the potential offender, I knew there could be consequences if I said much of anything. So, I sat in silence. I was in shock over what had just happened, and I stared blankly as the police continued to ask questions that I refused to answer.
When they asked my wife what had happened, she declined to respond. They continued to press her for information and she finally revealed that she was afraid she would lose her husband because he had become so successful in his profession. Through tears, she continued with her accusations that I had cheated on her. She explained that she felt hurt and that she “didn’t mean to”. Of course, the officers asked her what she meant by that. They asked her if she had attacked me and she vehemently denied their allegations. Finally, she admitted that she “didn’t mean to” hurt her husband.
The cops asked her how I had sustained the injuries on my body and she claimed she didn’t know how it had happened. She repeatedly stated that it hadn’t been her who had done it, but provided no further explanation. According to the police report, the officers quickly determined that she was under the influence of alcohol. As she refused to cooperate with their questioning, they decided they had enough information and placed her in handcuffs, as well. An inspection of her body would reveal that she had no wounds or any other signs that I had physically harmed her during the altercation. She refused medical treatment.
That was the night my wife was arrested for violation of law PC-273.5, Felony Domestic Violence. Although law enforcement offered me an Emergency Protective Order, I declined and also refused medical attention. Additionally, I did not agree to press charges against her. They photographed my injuries for their police report and transported her to the Pasadena Jail. The following day, I arrived at the station to pay Irma’s bail. Now more sober, they agreed to release her from their custody.
I was ashamed to face my colleagues after this humiliating incident. I attempted to cover my two black eyes with makeup but was largely unsuccessful. It was clear to everyone that I had been beaten up, which I hoped wouldn’t mar the reputation I had worked so hard to establish.
As the father of three girls and one son, it is important to me that I set a good example for my children. I never want my daughters to think that violence is acceptable in any relationship, no matter who initiates it. I did everything in my power to make this message clear to them, hoping they would never find themselves in any kind of situation that involved domestic violence.
Needless to say, Irma and I are no longer married. She is the mother of my kids, so I do not wish any ill upon her. However, I was not willing to continue my life under these circumstances. Even after 6 years of marriage, we had ultimately become incompatible and it was obvious that we would be much healthier apart from each other. It’s been three years since the incident and, to this day, it remains one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever had to face.
It is my hope that others can learn from my experience. There were many lessons in this story. Even if you’ve done nothing wrong or unlawful, it is a good idea to limit what you say until you have secured legal counsel. Had I said much of anything when all of this had happened, my words could’ve been twisted and the outcome could’ve been much different.