'She fell' doesn't cut it: police arrest one for spousal abuse in Orange

Justin Lee Norman

After refusing to cooperate with a police investigation into alleged spousal abuse a few weeks ago, a woman in Orange was once again in a local emergency room June 20 seeking treatment for new injuries reportedly inflicted by her husband.

Last time police were called out, Capt. Robert Enmon of the Orange Police Department (OPD) told The Examiner, the woman contended that she broke her arm in a fall and refused to press charges against the man police believed to be responsible for her injuries, her own husband, 22-year-old Justin Lee Norman. This time, it was Norman who told police responding to a report of a disturbance that his wife fell, a common excuse made by both abusers and their victims when asked how apparent injuries were sustained.

OPD Officer Jana Goins responded to a report of a disturbance in a room at the Motel 6, 4407 27th Street in Orange, at about 3:35 a.m. Monday. The hotel clerk told Goins that he had awakened to the sounds of screaming and loud banging noises coming from the room above his a short time earlier.

Before the officer could make it to the room, a man who identified himself as Norman approached her. He told her that he and his wife had been drinking, his wife had fallen and he was “trying to clean her up.” He said there was no disturbance in the room. Goins instructed Norman to speak with other officers at the scene while she checked out the motel room.

Goins reported that she knocked on the door of the room and an obviously injured woman opened it and began crying. Goins reported that the whole left side of the woman’s face was “swollen and bruised,” she had blood coming from her mouth and her left eye was “dark purple/red and was totally swollen shut.” The woman identified herself as Norman’s wife.

“(The victim) also had major swelling around her left eye socket and her left jaw,” described Goins. “(She) later advised she lost consciousness while Norman was striking her with his fist repeatedly in the face.”

Goins called EMS to take the victim to the a local hospital for treatment. She advised her fellow officers to take Norman under arrest for aggravated assault, a second-degree felony.

An OPD officer advised Norman to place his hands behind his back, at which time he fled on foot around the west side of the hotel. Officers ordered Norman repeated orders to stop, but to no avail. He ran around the lot for a while, Goins stated, before finally giving up and surrendering himself.

“I’m sorry,” Goins reported Norman told officers. “I ran because I was scared.”

Even after surrendering, he refused to comply with orders and police had to forcibly take him into custody. He was charged with evading in addition to the assault charges, and taken to the Orange County Jail.

According to Houston-based journalist Samantha Gluck, a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists, victims often come up with unlikely excuses for how they obtained bruises or injuries.

“Frequently, their stories seem inconsistent with their injuries,” Gluck wrote in her article Signs of Domestic Violence, Domestic Abuse found at http://www.healthyplace.com. “They may say they tripped and fell, which caused their black eye. While it's not absolutely impossible to get a black eye from a fall, it's highly unlikely.”

Capt. Enmon of OPD said it is very important that victims report abuse in spite of any hesitation they may have because, said the veteran law enforcer, the next inevitable instance of abuse could prove deadly.

“When we start seeing a pattern, we go the extra step and try to get victims of abuse to cooperate and press charges,” Enmon related. “We tried to get her help last time when I am pretty sure he broke her arm, but she said, ‘I fell.’ Now, here we are again. There comes a point when somebody has to help up help them.”

Enmon said victims should report abuse to local law enforcement before it’s too late for them or someone else. Victims in distress may also call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233 or TTY 1−800−787−3224, or visit the website at http://www.thehotline.org.