Wife says PD escalated incident, lied

By Bill Donovan
Special to the Times

WINDOW ROCK, Sept. 26, 2011

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The alleged victim of a domestic violence case involving a Zuni Pueblo police officer lashed back this week, saying Navajo Nation police greatly overreacted and traumatized the family as a result.

Last month Navajo police went to a Window Rock residence after receiving a call from a man who said he heard screaming and crying from a house.

The department's tactical squad responded to the call and tried to get a response from the house, according to the police report.

After two hours, Daniel Lincoln, 34, walked out of the house with his wife and children and surrendered.

Lincoln's wife, Jillayne, said the police report contained a number of inaccurate statements, as did a news account that was based on it ("Zuni officer charged with child endangerment," Aug. 18, 2011).

"The article about our incident is just as fictional as the police reports that were gathered to write them," she said.

Asked for comment this week, acting Navajo Nation Police Chief Steve Nelson said he was not familiar with the incident and could not offer a comment.

Tribal court officials said the case against Lincoln was dismissed without prejudice Sept. 8 at the request of the Navajo Nation.

Jillayne Lincoln agreed that Aug. 7 was not a typical Sunday morning, "but based on false information and outrageous lies, it escalated into a devastating, traumatizing, very upsetting and saddened day for my family," she said.

Members of the tribal police, as well as its tactical squad, tormented the family "without probable cause," she said.

The incident started with a phone call to police from a neighbor, Taylor Stewart, who said after hearing the screaming he went to the front door and a boy standing there told him, "Daddy's going to kill Mommy."

Lincoln pointed out that the family consists of three daughters, and said none of them went to the door that day and made that statement.

The view from inside the house while tribal police surrounded it caused great anxiety, she said.

"We had no knowledge of what was going on outside our doors," she said. "We were stationed in our home, pajamas on, children crying, as police officers were counting down the attack on my husband."

She said her husband has never pointed a weapon at her or her children, nor did he keep them hostage in the house.

"Each and every statement, act, even thought against what took place or may have taken place is strictly a lie and/or is blown out of proportion," she said, emphasizing that the reason family members did not come out of the house right away was simple: "We were afraid to be killed or get injured for no reason at all."

She disagrees with statements made by police that her husband, being a police officer, knows how the system works and should have exited the house immediately upon being ordered to do so.

"We were afraid and confused about what was going on, especially me and our children," she said, adding that she had a hard time calming her children while the tactical squad continued to call for them to come outside.

"But it did not take two hours for us to exit our home as the criminal complaints and article stated," she said.

Their fear of police became a reality as soon as they stepped out the door, she said.

Because of the "excessive force" used by Navajo police, both she and her husband had to receive emergency and follow-up medical care.

Lincoln also claims that after the attack, Navajo police officers, including the arresting officer, Paula Billie, never followed up by interviewing her to verify that a crime had taken place or to determine if the statements made by the witnesses were accurate.

"Police officers searched our home without a search warrant, even after the exigent circumstances ended," she said.

Navajo police did confiscate a 9mm Glock pistol, which she referred to as a "work gun" that was locked away in a department-issued safe and was unloaded because of their children.

"But the officer treated the matter as if the weapon was lying around and was ready to be used," she said.

Once police found that gun, she said they had no further reason to be in the house.

"But they did in fact strip our humble home to shreds," Lincoln said.

"During this time, the officers invaded in our personal and private living space. Personal belongings of mine were thrown around in our bedroom, even our daughter's bedroom was raided because of this mishap," she said. "I feel very disgusted, much violated and intruded upon for what the police officers did."

As a result of what happened, Lincoln said she feels that tribal police as well as the Window Rock courts and the prosecutor's office had made her husband "a target."

"He was held unlawfully at the Window Rock Police Department and falsely charged for the endangerment of our children," she said.

She was especially upset at the way the police report and article portrayed her husband.

"Knowing this man for five years and being married to him for two and a half, my husband has never treated me or our children in cruel ways as people are portraying him," Lincoln said. "He loves me and our children with all of his heart and I know for a fact he would never do anything to hurt us in any way."

She said this incident has changed her views of the Navajo police and called upon others who have undergone similar treatment to speak up.

"No more shall we be (deprived) of our rights, no more shall we be tormented or stripped of our dignity," she said. "Don't be afraid to tell your story, don't be afraid to take a stand and don't be afraid to say 'That's not right.'"

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