She had good reason to be scared. Curt Lubiszewski carries
a gun 24 hours a day, is trained in violence, and knows
how to manipulate the legal system. Curt Lubiszewski is
a police officer with the California Highway Patrol.
phone call kicked off a series of events that boggle the
mind. The friend called CHP Capt. Larry O'Shea, ranking
officer in the Rohnert Park Highway Patrol office. When
O'Shea later asked Mitzie if Curt had ever hurt her, she
reported the violence she had endured. Rohnert Park police
were called in to do a civil stand-by while Mitzie moved
out, and a criminal investigation was launched.
month later when Mitzie called the Purple Berets for help,
the criminal investigation was over; the district attorney
had refused to file charges, citing lack of evidence. Two
requests for restraining orders had been denied solely because
the no-gun provision, put into domestic violence restraining
orders to protect the victim, would jeopardize Lubiszewski's
job. And Curt Lubiszewski was still a gun-toting CHP officer.
your support, we hope all that is fixin' to change.
On May 28th, the conference room at Rohnert Park Public
Safety was packed with eight high-level law enforcement
officials, including Rohnert Park police Chief Tom Bullard,
CHP Lt. Dan Moore, and Assistant District Attorney Larry
Scoufos. The men (yes, all eight were men) had been brought
to the table by our letter to Chief Bullard and Capt. O'Shea
calling for a meeting to detail the evidence of domestic
violence against Curt Lubiszewski. Also on the agenda were
the botched investigation and cover-up.
the next two hours, the men got an earful from the women
in the room: Mitzie Grabner; Bonnie Garrett, who was married
to Lubiszewski previously and has three children with him;
Bonnie Leslie, who witnessed Lubiszewski's abusive, enraged
behavior on numerous occasions; and Purple Berets advocate/investigator,
end of the meeting, there could be little doubt that Lubiszewski
is a batterer, that he's done it before and will do it again,
and that any attempt to keep him on the force would be a
Mitzie Grabner painted a picture of Curt Lubiszewski as
a violent, jealous, obsessively controlling man who screened
her phone calls, banned her friends from the house, and
constantly checked on her whereabouts. The slightest deviation
from his imposed routine ignited utter rage, tirades peppered
with "you fucking cunt" or "fucking whore,"
and ultimately, violence.
to Mitzie's sworn declaration, "The violence was ongoing,
and included grabbing me by the arms and shaking me, pushing
me, sitting on my chest and yelling, throwing me down stairs,
taking my purse or keys to keep me from leaving, and breaking
my phone so I couldn't call for help." The most frightening
incidents occurred whenever she talked about leaving.
then outlined six specific incidents that could be corroborated
by witnesses and tied to dates. (In one of the incidents,
Rohnert Park police were called, but never showed up.) While
for the most part there were no witnesses to the violence
itself (the norm in domestic violence situations), in every
case someone noted her bruises in the subsequent days. In
one incident Curt's terrified and tearful son witnessed
the violence and inserted himself between his raging father
and Mitzie to protect her.
Leslie is a tough, gutsy woman who breaks quarter horses
for a living. She was the only one of Mitzie's friends Curt
allowed in the house, and she witnessed a number of Lubiszewski's
rages - arguments that would erupt without provocation.
She graphically described a man totally out of control,
red-faced with saliva flying from his mouth as he spat the
most denigrating, woman-hating names he could think of.
"Mitzie was scared; the kids were scared it
scared me," she declared.
also witnessed the results of Curt's violence. She described
dark, angry bruises on Mitzie's arms - deep impressions
of thumbs and fingertips where he had picked Mitzie up by
the arms. Bonnie respected her friend's terrified pleas
not to get involved ... a decision she came to regret. "I
feel like I let her down," Leslie told police,"...
that I kept sending my friend back into the lion's den."
Not Going to Stop"
Bonnie Garrett is slight and soft-spoken. She told police
that her nine-year marriage to Curt Lubiszewski had turned
violent almost immediately, when Curt picked her up and
threw her across the room, injuring her tail bone. Pregnant
with her first child, Bonnie was lucky she didn't miscarry.
Mitzie (and like most police officers' partners) Bonnie
Garrett had never before reported Curt's violence to police.
"He said they would never believe me; I mean, he's
a cop ... he is the police." So that day, for the first
time she reported to the police and the district attorney
the same soul-killing verbal attacks, the same pattern of
violence exploding when she threatened to leave, the same
grabbing her keys so she couldn't, picking her up by her
arms, sitting on her chest and yelling in her face, his
obsessive control, his stalking when she finally got out
- nine years of it.
not going to stop," she told the assembled law enforcement
officers. "He's ignored restraining orders, direct
orders from his captain, court orders ... he's not going
to stop." Unsaid, but laying over the room like a blanket
was "... unless you stop him."
But up until now, there's clearly been no serious intent
to stop him.
Mitzie Grabner arrived at Rohnert Park Public Safety on
February 28th to give her original statement in the criminal
investigation, she was met by Detective Jeff Nicks. Nicks
immediately refused her request to have a friend and witness
with her in the interview, despite California law giving
her that right.
elevator door closed leaving Mitzie and Nicks alone inside,
Det. Nicks said, "You know, Curt has a lot of friends
was soon to see the full import of that statement. As she
walked into the interview room, there, sitting at the table,
tape recorder in hand, was CHP Sgt. Scott Bertelsen. Assigned
to head up the Highway Patrol's internal investigation,
Bertelsen, Lubiszewski's sergeant and his personal friend
for some ten years, is far from an independent investigator.
interview took a predictable course from there. Mitzie,
by now extremely intimidated, was pressured to drop her
complaint, discouraged from getting a restraining order,
and cut off and shut down when she tried to report the multiple
incidents of violence. Still, she was able to get a skeletal
outline of the abuse on the record, replete with witnesses.
Unfortunately, Nicks didn't bother to mention most of those
witnesses in his report, or to contact them for their statements.
on Nicks's incomplete police report, lacking proper investigation
and witness corroboration, the district attorney's office
failed to file criminal charges, citing insufficient evidence.
CHP's Internal "Investigation"
In most law enforcement agencies, where there are serious
allegations of misconduct such as domestic violence, standard
procedure is to put an officer on suspension, or at least
on desk duty, while the charges against him are investigated.
Not so with Curt Lubiszewski. Though taken off the street
for a short time late in the process, he was returned to
duty when criminal charges weren't filed and the permanent
restraining orders denied, despite the ongoing the internal
in most departments where there are allegations such as
the internal investigation would be conducted, not by the
officer's supervisor, but by a separate entity within the
department - internal affairs or the administrative section.
Again, not so with Lubiszewski, who's being investigated
by a man who is not only his sergeant, but his buddy.
in every law enforcement agency we've contacted, even if
criminal charges weren't filed, the agency would likely
take action if the allegations of domestic violence were
substantiated. Yet when we asked Capt. O'Shea under what
circumstances Lubiszewski would be disciplined or fired,
he said only if he were convicted of domestic violence in
cases, because the penalty is so harsh (incarceration),
the case must be proved "beyond a reasonable doubt."
By contrast, the standard of proof in a police deparment's
internal investigation is "preponderance of the evidence"
or, in some agencies, "clear and convincing evidence,"
both significantly lower standards.
asked O'Shea, "What if the district attorney told you
he absolutely believed the evidence showed the charges against
Lubiszewski were true?" The captain hemmed and hawed,
then reiterated that unless convicted in criminal court,
there will be no finding that Lubiszewski violated CHP policy,
and no disciplinary action will be taken. "Is beating
your wife not against CHP policy?" we asked incredulously.
The answer: "No."
With both criminal and internal investigations in process,
Lubiszewski began to retaliate. Though ordered by his captain
and temporary restraining orders not to have any contact
with the two victims, directly or indirectly, Lubiszewski
repeatedly tried to contact Bonnie Leslie, who had filed
a sworn statement corroborating the violence.
entered an allegedly perjured declaration into the hearing
for the permanent restraining order, filed for sole custody
of Bonnie Garrett's three children, and contacted Bonnie
Leslie's ex-employer, against whom she has a Workers Compensation
claim, offering to testify against her.
charges were added into the CHP internal investigation,
along with repeated incidents of his driving with his kids
in the patrol car despite a court order mandating that he
stop. New criminal investigations were launched into these
allegations yet, unbelievably, Lubiszewski is still not
suspended; still on patrol; still carrying a gun.
Law Enforcement Act?
By the end of our May 28th meeting, both Rohnert Park police
and the district attorney had agreed to reopen their criminal
investigation into the domestic violence.
Lt. Moore was looking relieved. As the meeting had focused
specifically on the criminal case and not the CHP investigation,
Moore was sure he'd dodged the bullet.
then, Deputy District Attorney Bill Brockley leaned across
the conference table and spoke earnestly to Mitzie. "I
want you to know, Mitzie, that I absolutely believe you
... believe that these things happened. My job is to decide
whether I can prove that beyond a reasonable doubt to a
jury," he continued, "but I want you to know that
I believe you."
it was: exactly the statement we had challenged Capt. O'Shea
with! In the view of the county's highest law enforcement
agency there is "clear and convincing evidence"
that Ofcr. Lubiszewski committed domestic violence.
Moore, if, after everything you've heard in this room,"
we warned, "a violent batterer is allowed to remain
a CHP officer, we promise you this isn't over."
we should be prepared for exactly that. Far from enlightened,
Lt. Moore's parting words to Bonnie Garrett were these:
"I'll be glad when this is over and we can get back
to handling real emergencies." Some agencies just have
to learn the hard way.
Get Rid of
you think, as we do, that police should be held
to a higher standard in domestic violence cases,
not protected so they can keep on carrying a
Capt. O'Shea battering cops have got to go!
a postcard to the State CHP office requesting
an independent investigation of the domestic
violence allegations against Curt Lubiszewski.
Commander of Internal Affairs
2555 1st Ave
Sacramento, CA 95818
the Rohnert Park Highway Patrol Office. Ongoing
pickets will be scheduled until these demands
are met. Go to Breaking
News for dates.
more information on domestic violence in police families,
a recent media report on domestic violence by police, click