On the morning of October 10, Niko Black was alone and ill when deputies from the Orange County Sheriff's Department arrived to evict her from her Garden Grove home on Shannon Avenue. "I'm in my bed and I see them storming my property," she tells the Weekly. "I crawl to my wheelchair."
The 37-year-old Mescalero Apache woman, who suffers from a rare, malignant and metastatic form of cancer, refused to open the door, saying that they had no legal right to be there. On the other side was a taped copy of a court order obtained from Federal Bankruptcy Judge Theodor C. Albert in late August that she firmly believes should have prevented the OCSD from carrying out the eviction. The deputies acted anyway.
"They break down my door," Black recounts. "I'm sitting there in my wheel chair. I'm about 100 pounds of shriveled-up cancer and a threat to no one."
What came next, she says, was much more harrowing. "Sergeant Bob Sima puts a gun to my face, finger on the trigger, no safety and walks around me," Black states, pausing to emotionally gather herself. "There's no reason, except for to threaten my life, for an intimidation factor, to put a gun to my head."
With neighbors lining up outside watching, Black's health began to worsen. "I needed my medication, I couldn't breathe and I was having a seizure," she said, claiming that deputies were unresponsive to concerns about her condition; one officer even remarked that she 'looked good' to him. An ambulance finally arrived at her friend's behest and she was forcibly removed from her home and hospitalized.
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Sheriff's officials claim they originally arrived to Black's home on September 19 and that she served them legal documents at the time. County counsel allegedly instructed the deputies to carry out the eviction. Following the events of October 10, though, Judge Albert has ordered Wells Fargo and county officials to appear in court on November 13 to explain why they should not be held in contempt for violating the stay and be made to pay punitive damages.
"Wells Fargo filed a motion about an inch thick all the reasons why they should be allowed to evict me," Black said about the court order. "The federal judge denied them and stated very clearly they are not to. The bank illegally acquired an unlawful detainer, an eviction, without due process. They did it with fraudulent paperwork."
Black says that paperwork was signed by forgery with obvious misspellings of her of name and filed a civil lawsuit. Her intransigence, she believes, is the reason why she's been subjected to this entire ordeal.
Black and her supporters took to the streets and protested last weekend outside the Garden Grove Police Department as during the eviction she called them to the scene but they did not stop it from being carried out. An online petition is also circulating and Black plans to speak out at tonight's city council meeting.
And already, law enforcement is spinning their part furiously; yesterday, Sima took to the airwaves of The David Cruz Show on KTLK-AM 1150 to state that it's standard protocol to have weapons drawn in the clearing of a house, but that no guns were pointed at her head.
The OCSD and Wells Fargo will have to explain themselves in court next month, but for Black, her health concerns are much more urgent.
"Because I have a very aggressive form of cancer, every appointment, every day is crucial," she says. "I'm a person with a lower immune system. That's why all my nursing care, my physical therapy, my medical equipment, everything is set up for home care. This violates the Americans with Disabilities Act."
A social worker as well as the head of the hospital that she was taken to have both written in support of Black being immediately returned to her home for medical care. She's actively trying to find someone in the legal community to take all the evidence and help her get back into the house she has owned and principally resided at since 1994.
"All I want to do is go home," Black says. "All I want to do is save my life."