Monday, March 13, 2017

LIES THEY TOLD THE POLICE

The difference between an error and judgment and being charged with a felony was people lying to the Fort Collins Police Department.

SHAWN HINES

Shawn Hines gave three different versions of where he was -- all allegedly happening during the ~15 to 20 seconds that the handgun was in my hand (pointed at the ground, finger nowhere near the trigger):

    1) standing with his child (in a stroller) in his driveway
    2) walking from the (common) mail boxes
    3) standing in his garage with his back toward me

But none of those versions was true.  They were all lies. 

Shawn Hines was actually hiding behind his house, behind his bushes, taking pictures.

Shawn Hines also denies that -- on another occasion -- he shouted at me, "What kind of [either idiot or asshole] buys a $4,800 table saw as 'retail therapy ?'"  It was about the fourth time that he'd shouted at me, using profanity on almost every occasion (police reports filed).

But when the police came to talk with him -- although Shawn Hines denied ever saying it -- his wife, Allison, spoke up: they hadn't been cyber-stalking me.  The HOA lawyers told Shawn and Allison Hines that they (the lawyers) had found an Internet post where I said that I had bought the table saw "as retail therapy."

In disclosing that fact, Allison Hines made it obvious that Shawn Hines was lying.

To the police.

Shawn: if you're going to lie to the police, it's better that you and your wife get your stories straight first.

Also, immediately after the incident happened, I took notes:

    11/30/11 after 6pm - "What kind of asshole would buy a $4,800 saw in the name of 'retail therapy.' " - Shawn.  Standing by his truck.  Then, Shawn walked to Ryan's house, after returning from Texas trip.  Gave Ryan wood that he had brought back from Texas."

In Court, those notes are what's called a "Contemporary record."  They're considered an accurate depiction of events.


And Shawn Hines destroyed evidence.  Do you think he would have destroyed evidence if it made me look guilty ?  

Colorado law says that a jury can assume that evidence which was intentionally destroyed would have been favorable to the defendant (ie, made them look innocent).


RYAN DONOVAN

Ryan Donovan told the police that he "saw Hines go into his garage, and when Hines turned his back to Brooks, Donovan saw Brooks pull out the dark tan handgun from his right pants pocket.  Donovan told [Fort Collins Police Officer Kristie] Allen that Brooks kept the gun in a 'ready' position for approximately 20 seconds until Hines went into his residence."

So Ryan Donovan also said that Shawn Hines was in his garage with his back to me.  But during the same (according to Ryan) 20 seconds ... Shawn was actually behind his house, behind his bushes, taking pictures.

So Shawn Hines thinks that he can be in THREE places at once, but Ryan Donovan only claims that Shawn Hines can be in TWO places at once.


They both lied.

To the police.

Ryan Donovan also said that -- while I was outside -- I was "constantly scanning [ie, looking around]."  


Of course I was.  If I had seen any of the neighbors outside, I would have gone back into my house.  I never left my house unless I was certain that there was nobody else around. 

That's what you see when -- in the first picture (with the gun in my hand), I'm looking down, while in the second picture -- taken (literally) four seconds later -- I'm looking up: I was constantly scanning.  You also see the 11am Colorado sun directly in my chemically-burned eyes.

Shawn and Ryan: if you're going to lie to the police (who seemed remarkably unaware that you were lying), it's much better to get your stories straight.

JENNY KIDD


City Mediator, Jenny Kidd, told Fort Collins Police Services that she had never agreed to meet with me.  


But here's the evidence that she had scheduled a mediation meeting and that she did stand us up.

Jenny: if you're going to lie to the police, it's better if you remember whether or not you left a paper trail.


While I did send dozens -- if not hundreds -- of emails to the media, politicians, and disabled rights groups, I never sent anything to anybody anonymously.  

Never.  Period.

Was it wise -- under any circumstances -- to have a handgun out of its holster, even for 20 seconds in a residential neighborhood ?  No.  It wasn't.  Even though -- right or wrong -- I was certain there was nobody else around.


But there's a profound difference between 'unwise' and a felony.  

It's only because some of the people in this story were so willing to blatantly lie to the Fort Collins Police (and the Fort Collins Police were so ready to believe those lies) that I was ever arrested in the first place.

Incidentally, isn't lying to the police a crime ?  I'm quite sure that it is.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

SPECIFIC CORRESPONDENCE FILES

If you aren't familiar with my story, please take a few minutes to read this:

CLICK HERE


With the help of a friend, I've been able to put together a number of individual files that will help people understand how this story really unfolded.

Of particular importance: I told every single person that I'm disabled, in chronic pain, and that the incessant sleep disruptions were causing my health to deteriorate.


It's critical to understand the relative position of the two houses:

That's my house on the left, the dog-owners' house in the middle.  Note that my master bedroom is effectively in the neighbors' back yard.  The fence was about arm's length from my bedroom window.  The dogs could run right between the two houses:

How close the dogs were to my bedroom and house:


A view of the neighbors' back yard (from the sale listing on their house).  Note that the yellow wall is our master bedroom:


My dog owning neighbors were Ben and Meredith Miller.  Here are the emails between the Millers and me:

CLICK HERE

When the Millers wouldn't help me, I reached out to the property manager of the Homeowners Assocation -- Sandra Bickerton:

CLICK HERE

When the property manager refused to help me, I reached out to the Homeowners Association -- the only name I could get.  Included in these documents are some of the correspondence among the neighbors that were revealed during the course of the lawsuit:

CLICK HERE

When the Homeowners Association refused to help me, I reached out to Animal Control and the Fort Collins Police Department:

CLICK HERE

Somewhere in the latter part of all of this, the Fort Collins City Mediator got involved.  Her involvement was tremendously destructive:

CLICK HERE

When Animal Control and the Police refused to help me, I reached out to an attorney and asked her to help solve the problem.  Please note that my first contact with the attorney was almost ten months after moving in.

The Deposition of Benjamin Miller:

CLICK HERE

The Deposition of Meredith Miller:

CLICK HERE

The Deposition of Shawn Hines:

CLICK HERE

The Deposition of me by the HOAs attorney:

CLICK HERE


The Transcript of the first Hearing before Judge Dan Kaup:

CLICK HERE


The Transcipt of the second Hearing before Judge Dan Kaup:

CLICK HERE


The law:

CLICK HERE


AND HERE

Friday, September 9, 2016

Stacy Lynne's (and other) coverage of my story

Index of Stacy Lynne's videos and other websites that have graciously carried my story.  

NOTE: If you don't know the story, please CLICK HERE

=============================================

Stacy Lynne's introduction TO the story:

CLICK HERE 

AND HERE 

-----

*** If all went according to plan, this YouTube playlist will allow you to view the entire Stacy Lynne video series with a single mouse click:

CLICK HERE

----

FIRST VIDEO INSTALLMENT:

CLICK HERE

SECOND VIDEO INSTALLMENT:

CLICK HERE

THIRD VIDEO INSTALLMENT:

CLICK HERE

FOURTH VIDEO INSTALLMENT:

CLICK HERE 

FIFTH VIDEO INSTALLMENT:

CLICK HERE

SIXTH VIDEO INSTALLMENT:

CLICK HERE 

SEVENTH VIDEO INSTALLMENT:

CLICK HERE 

EIGHTH VIDEO INSTALLMENT:

CLICK HERE 

NINTH VIDEO INSTALLMENT:

CLICK HERE

TENTH VIDEO INSTALLMENT:

CLICK HERE 

11TH VIDEO INSTALLMENT:

CLICK HERE 

12TH VIDEO INSTALLMENT:

CLICK HERE 

13TH VIDEO INSTALLMENT:

CLICK HERE

14TH VIDEO INSTALLMENT:

CLICK HERE 

15TH VIDEO INSTALLMENT:

CLICK HERE 

16TH VIDEO INSTALLMENT:

CLICK HERE

17TH VIDEO INSTALLMENT:

CLICK HERE 

18TH VIDEO INSTALLMENT:

CLICK HERE

19TH VIDEO INSTALLMENT:

CLICK HERE 

20TH VIDEO INSTALLMENT: 

CLICK HERE 

21ST VIDEO INSTALLMENT:

CLICK HERE 

22ND VIDEO INSTALLMENT:

CLICK HERE 

23RD VIDEO INSTALLMENT:

CLICK HERE 

24TH VIDEO INSTALLMENT:

CLICK HERE 

25TH VIDEO INSTALLMENT:

CLICK HERE 

26TH VIDEO INSTALLMENT:

CLICK HERE 

27TH VIDEO INSTALLMENT:

CLICK HERE    


----

ADDITIONAL COVERAGE:

COLORADO HOA WALL OF SHAME:

http://www.hoaowneradvocates.com/hoa-refuses-to-accommodate-fort-collins-disabled-man/


INDEPENDENT AMERICAN COMMUNITIES:

    https://independentamericancommunities.com/2016/06/28/dont-count-on-your-hoa-to-enforce-nuisance-rules-case-study/

KERATOS (THE BAK-INDUCED EYE DAMAGE):

    http://pasdeconservateurs.free.fr/English/testimonial-of-preservative-consequences.htm

NOISE FREE:

    https://www.noisefree.org/newsroom/pressrelease-display.php?id=172

TWITTER ROACH (SKIPPY) - CONTAINS PROFANITY:

    http://twitterroach.com/2015/03/twitter-roach-podcast-003-dogs-are-more-important-than-sick-people/

ASK US FORT COLLINS:

    http://askusfortcollins.com/robyns-rant-dogs-disabilities-deplorable-neighbors/
    http://askusfortcollins.com/skippy-responds-less-important-dogs/

THE MODERATE VOICE:

    http://themoderatevoice.com/203679/american-compassion-and-invisible-disabilities-a-sequel/

NEIGHBORS FROM HELL:

    http://myemail.constantcontact.com/It-s-NFH-Season-.html?soid=1103447981936&aid=zT2W2ZwKCbM

GROUND REPORT:

    http://groundreport.com/?p=5101492&preview=true

BARKING DOG SOLUTIONS:

    http://barkingdogsolutions.freeforums.org/one-man-s-neighbourhood-misery-over-dog-idolatry-t126.html

COLORADOAN ANTI-CENSORSHIP:

    http://coloradoan-anti-censorship.net/story/2014-11-19/destruction-medically-disabled-man-fort-collins

MOSAIC - UK-BASED SCIENCE PUBLICATION - NEUROPATHIC CORNEAL PAIN:

    http://mosaicscience.com/story/severe-eye-pain

INTERVIEW WITH BRYN NELSON - NEUROPATHIC CORNEAL PAIN:

    http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2015/09/17/excruciating-mysterious-eye-pain

    http://digg.com/2015/chronic-eye-pain

    http://medicalxpress.com/news/2015-09-rare-condition-excruciating-eye-pain.html

LOS ANGELES TIMES - DONIE VANITZIAN:

    http://www.latimes.com/business/realestate/la-fi-associations-20151220-story.html

JUSTICE SERVED - ANDY OSTROWSKI - 5/24/16 - ARCHIVES - EPISODE 89

    http://justiceserved.online/
   
ON THE COMMONS RADIO SHOW - SHU BARTHOLOMEW

    http://onthecommons.us/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=370&Itemid=67

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Summary

Before you read the story, please know where things stand today (November 2016).

I moved into my brand-new, first-ever house in February 2009.  


I was disabled but I was fit, strong, healthy, and active.  At various times I could ride my bicycle, hike, ride my motorcycle, ski, and snowshoe.  I was learning to be a hobbyist woodworker.  In 45-60 minute 'bursts,' I learned that -- given enough time -- I could actually make pieces in my wood shop.  

I was in chronic pain, had chemically burned eyes, was visually impaired, and had a Primary Immune Deficiency ("IgG Subclass Deficiency"), but ... I was doing okay within my limitations and was doing everything I could to expand my life within those limitations.

Now ... 7-1/2 years later ... I have been diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (or Myalgic Encephalomyelitis or Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease).


I'm now having all kinds of health problems, including heart problems (atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter, orthostatic hypotension, postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome) and infections that I can't safely fight off. 
Life had been reduced to watching/listening to TV and walking the dog.  The doctors are now telling me that I have to stop walking the dog.

I truly did lose everything -- my home, my life's savings, and my health -- because I asked to be able to sleep in my own home.

A wonderful local investigative journalist has released a series of about two dozen videos telling my story.  Those videos can be found HERE.


A direct link to much of the original correspondence -- in everybody's own words -- can be found here.

Please also take a few minutes and review the page, "Lies They Told The Police."  It's critical.
--

This is the short version of what happened to me in Fort Collins, Colorado, beginning in February 2009.  The complete version, with pictures and links to source documents, is HERE

-------------------------------

I'm medically disabled (chemically burned eyes, primary immune dysfunction, chronic neuropathic eye pain).  I'm a former VP of Chico's (ladies' clothing) and Mothers Work (maternity clothing), and a former Director of Proflowers.com (e-commerce).

Moved into a brand new house in 2009, only to find that ... the neighbors ... mere feet away ... had chronic, horrible, LOUD barking dogs.

The barking began to take my sleep and my health.

Repeated civil requests to the dog-owning neighbors got me nowhere.

Similar pleas for help to Animal Control, the Police, and the HOA property manager got me nowhere.

Once I reached out to the HOA, everything went downhill.  They engaged in an ad hominem campaign, instead of looking into the problem.

And the barking wouldn't stop.

The City Mediator ... turned out to be friends with the dog owners.  She scheduled a mediation.  My wife and I showed up at the mediation.  Apparently, she had canceled the mediation but never told me.

My health ... went rapidly downhill.  Insomnia, repeated infections that wouldn't respond to medication, medication reactions, exhaustion.....

Hired an attorney.  Asked her if my status as a disabled person meant there were federal (FHA/ADA) issues.  She said no.

[She was wrong ... as it turns out.  HUD and a housing attorney later told me that.  Too late.....]

Court ordered mediation.  The HOA wouldn't budge an inch or give a dollar.  The judge-mediator assured me ... we had a strong case -- at least, one that would NEVER be thrown out in a Motion for Summary Judgment.

But it was thrown out ... in a Motion for Summary Judgment ... by a Judge who -- I later found out -- was married to a residential real estate developer's sister, and whose daughter WAS the property manager FOR that family's HOA's.

The Judge awarded the HOA its legal fees.  That took the rest of my life's savings ... and my health was in big trouble.

The Judge tossing my case also 'emboldened' neighbors, who began to torment and harass me.  I filed several police reports against them.  No action was taken by the Police.  

In fact, when I told the police that I am "medically disabled, have a primary immune dysfunction, am in chronic pain," and that "my health has been declining since this all started," the officer -- literally -- laughed at me on the telephone, saying that it was "the most ridiculous thing she had ever heard."

I was afraid of further retaliation, and the Police weren't going to help me.

I rarely left the house.  When I did, I legally carried a gun that I had legally purchased.  I had taken a 10hr course to train in its use.  I'd never owned a gun before, but I was in fear for my safety.

Apparently, this didn't sit well with the neighbors who began calling the Police, having seen me carrying a gun on my property.

One day ... certain that nobody was around ... I dared step outside to tend to my yard, openly carrying my pistol -- legal in this town.

For several seconds, after the garden hose began leaking all over me, I had the pistol out of its holster, pointed at the ground, finger NOT on the trigger.

I looked down.  I looked up.  I set the hose down.  I walked in the house, set the gun down, came back outside, turned off the hose, reeled it in, and went back inside.

Apparently, the prime villain in this story ... had been hiding behind his house and his bushes, and snapping pics ... with an eight-power telephoto lens ... from over 150 feet away.

The pics describe exactly what I say.

BUT ... we later found out ... the Police TOLD this man to delete some of the pictures that he had taken.  The District Attorney told my attorney this.  The Police had suborned the destruction of evidence.

So ... what was in fact perfectly innocent, looked incriminating.  The pictures stop when I looked up for a brief second, with a pistol pointed down, at the ground, NO finger on the trigger, and NOT aware of another soul in sight.

I was arrested ... by an entire SWAT team, including an armored vehicle and a sniper.  I was jailed.  I have never committed -- nor been charged with -- a crime, and they -- in effect -- sent the National Guard out to arrest me.

A Deferred Prosecution Agreement was reached.  Among its conditions was a Gag Order, preventing me from speaking publicly about what happened to me.  

For two years.

The Deferred Prosecution Agreement was lifted in September 2014.

But I've lost absolutely everything -- my health, my functionality, my life's savings, my house, and my marriage.

The blog post [1] describes it in greater detail, AND links to a pile of relevant documents.  

The story is worse than I can even tell it.  The documents do a better job of laying out just what a horrible, orchestrated, years-long nightmare this was, how hard I tried, how civil I was, and how my health fell apart.  

The medical files are NOT public, but I'd gladly send you a link to them.  It's heart-breaking.

I never did anything to anybody.  Ever.

As the Court-ordered Forensic Psychologist concluded, I was civil, reasonable, and appropriate in pleading with them to quiet the dogs, just so I could sleep in my new house.

Mine is a story of corruption, civil rights abuse, judicial misconduct, prosecutorial overreach, legal malpractice, and ... I've lost track of how many other things.

If you look up Fort Collins, you'll find it has its own history of such stories.  

This time, though, they had leverage -- a mechanism by which to silence the real victim (the Gag Order): the threat of Felony charges. 

And the local newspaper -- not surprisingly -- won't tell the REAL story.

I lost everything.  I'm in big trouble ... on numerous fronts.  I need help.

My sincere thanks,

Neil Brooks

[1] http://nbeener.blogspot.com/2014/11/the-destruction-of-medically-disabled.html

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Destruction of a Medically Disabled Man in Colorado

Before you read the story, please know where things stand today (November 2016).

I moved into my brand-new, first-ever house in February 2009.  


I was disabled but I was fit, strong, healthy, and active.  At various times I could ride my bicycle, hike, ride my motorcycle, ski, and snowshoe.  I was learning to be a hobbyist woodworker.  In 45-60 minute 'bursts,' I learned that -- given enough time -- I could actually make pieces of furniture in my wood shop.  

I was in chronic pain, had chemically burned eyes, was visually impaired, and had a Primary Immune Deficiency, but ... I was doing okay within my limitations and was doing everything I could to expand my life within those limitations.

Now ... 7-1/2 years later ... I have been diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (or Myalgic Encephalomyelitis or Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease).


I'm now having all kinds of health problems, including heart problems (atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter, orthostatic hypotension, postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome) and infections that I can't safely fight off.  Life had been reduced to watching/listening to TV and walking the dog.  The doctors are now telling me that I have to stop walking the dog.


I truly did lose everything -- my home, my life's savings, and my health -- because I asked to be able to sleep in my own home.

A wonderful local investigative journalist has released a series of about two dozen videos telling my story.  Those videos can be found HERE.


A direct link to much of the original correspondence -- in everybody's own words -- can be found here. 

I've also created context-specific hyperlinks throughout the post below.  If you click on them, they will take you directly to the relevant document(s).

Please also take a few minutes and look at the page, "Lies They Told The Police."  It's critical.

--

This is the full version of the story.  It might take 10 or 15 minutes to read.  

Though a significant amount of important detail is omitted, for those who need a quick summary, please start here.

--

In my sleep, I still see all the guns pointed at me, the flash of light from the sniper’s scope, and the tank.

--

My wife and I moved to Fort Collins, Colorado, in October 2008.  

Having visited the town on several occasions, we fell in love with the lifestyle that defines Fort Collins: rather small-town hospitality and pace, with most of the city amenities, weather that works for our favorite activities, a host of outdoor options, and relatively affordable housing.

We bought a property from a local builder, and put together the specifications for our semi-custom dream house.  

It would take about six months to complete.  The floor plan was already set.  We had no choice about that.  We were, however, able to pick interior finishes, appliances, and other 'minor options.'


We rented a house, during construction.

I have been medically disabled since 2004.

I was born with a complicated laundry list of eye problems, and a Primary Immune Dysfunction.  For over six years, one of the eye problems was treated with eye drops that -- I later found out -- burned my corneas, leaving me in severe, chronic pain.

I had to leave a career as a Director and Vice President of several different corporations.

I now have to wear fluid-filled, custom-made contact lenses while I am awake, and was treated for the chronic pain that the eye issues cause.  It is only because of the gift of these lenses that I could tolerate the dry, windy, wintry climate of Northern Colorado.  But the lenses are maintenance-intensive, ridiculously expensive, and ... I cannot ... MUST not ... sleep in them.

My underlying eye issues are particularly severe when doing “close work,” like reading and using computers.  My focusing muscles are like having two bad knees, with focusing being a lot like standing up and squatting down.  While standing up and squatting down should be fairly easy, in my case, my knees (focusing muscles) tend to either give out or lock up.  Imagine being locked with your knees bent at 90 degrees … for hours and hours and hours.  When I use my eyes for reading or computer work, that’s what happens – I get a ‘charley horse’ in my eyes.

Medically, I need to be outside as much as possible, bicycling, hiking, snowshoeing, walking, running, or nearly any other activity that lets me focus on things off in the distance – straightening out my legs, so to speak.

The exercise is also necessary to help me strengthen my ability to fight off infections.

As our new house was being built, my wife and I noticed that the structure extended nearly all the way back to the property line, behind the house -- much farther than the neighboring house to the North of ours.  

As a result, the entire master bedroom was “in the backyard” of the neighbors’ house, and a mere couple of feet away.

No reason to be alarmed, I thought.  While the houses were very close together, my wife and I picked this neighborhood because of the clear sense of community and friendly people who lived there.

The way our house was situated could have been an issue, but we felt quite comfortable that -- if noise ever became an issue -- we’d be dealing, reasonably, with reasonable people, and could resolve any issues that might arise, between neighbors.

We moved into our new house in February 2009.  Almost immediately, I realized that the neighbors had two young dogs who barked.

And barked a lot.

And barked exceptionally loudly 

The young sister dogs were a ‘cattle dog mix,’ a breed known for its intense, high-pitched bark.

The dogs barked early in the morning, late at night, and -- on most days -- for hours on end, while their owners were away.

And the dogs' owners were away a great deal of the time – all day long, and for days on end.

Because I often cannot fall asleep for hours because of the pain in my eyes -- particularly once I remove the special contact lenses – I was being awakened, over and over and over.  

Upon awakening, it feels like there's ground glass in my eyes.  Like there's molten ground glass in my eyes.  It's terrible.  The pain is excruciating.  I was losing hours of sleep each day, and … because of the all-day barking … I couldn’t even take a much-needed catnap.

This began a spiral of fatigue and increasing pain that led me back to the doctors at the pain clinic, for relief.  Increased medications led to increased fatigue.  Increased sleep deprivation led to increased pain.  It was a vicious cycle.  I was trapped in it.  It was just a horrible nightmare.

I told my wife that the dog owners were probably used to living next to an empty lot.  I was sure that they would adjust to having people live next door.  I chose to give them a bit of time to see if the problem resolved on its own, before bringing it up.

But the problem didn’t resolve.  The hour after hour, day after day barking just continued.

The barking echoed throughout my house, no matter how many doors and windows were closed, or what kind of earplugs or background noise I used to minimize the noise.  The houses were mere feet apart.  The barking dogs were as close as about arm's length from the entire side of my house.

Without the barking of the neighbors’ dogs, the neighborhood -- well, at least our house -- was just about dead silent, nearly all the time.  It was unbelievable to me just how intense these barks were, coming against a background of such profound quiet.  It was like a bomb going off.  Not only was it horrendously loud, but it was what they call an “impulse” noise – very sudden – as opposed to sounds like traffic that are pretty constant.

After a couple of months of this, I finally wrote a kindly-worded note to the neighbors, explaining my medical circumstances, and the toll it was taking on my health.  I invited the dog owners to come to our house, to meet, chat, and talk about the barking issue.

For a week or so, things seemed to get better.  I sent the neighbors a fruit basket to express my thanks.

But the respite didn’t last.  The barking problem returned, and quickly.  

I, again, sent a kindly-worded note.  Again, I offered to meet and chat, over a glass of wine or a dinner.

By this time, the fatigue was catching up with me.  I was having great difficulty pursuing the outdoor activities that were so critical to the health of my eyes, and ... I began to get sick.  

This time, though, the neighbors' response wasn't particularly cordial.  They said that “other dogs bark, too,” despite the fact that no other dogs were barking mere feet from my bedroom, waking me up, or preventing me from sleeping in any room of my house.

Finally, after about seven months of this, fighting to remain physically active, and now on antibiotics for an illness that wouldn’t let up, the dogs barked for over an hour, at about 11:00 at night, while I was trying desperately to sleep.

One of the dog-owners -- a professional bicycle racer -- was in Italy, for a race, at the time.  

I sent her an e-mail, letting her know that her dogs, again, were barking continuously, and preventing me from sleeping.  

She sent an e-mail back, telling me -- at 11pm, and already sick -- to “walk next door and talk to her husband about it.”

But nobody was home at the neighbors’ house, and the dogs’ barking wasn't stopping.  

At this point, I told the neighbors that the barking was not only a problem for me, but that it might point to a problem with the dogs themselves.  Maybe they were frightened, anxious, lonely, bored, or even scared.

The dog-owners dug their heels in.  They insisted that there was nothing wrong with their dogs, and -- in effect -- nothing more that they would do.  

The dog-owners let me know, that it was time for me to leave them alone.

I reached out to Animal Control, citing the pre-sunrise barking, the near-midnight barking, and the hours-on-end, day-after-day barking.  On several occasions, I held the phone in the air, allowing Animal Control to listen to as much of the non-stop barking as they wanted.

Despite having a conversation with the dog-owners, Animal Control would go no further.  They claimed to require statements from complainants at two separate addresses.  As I later found out, this wasn't actually Animal Control's policy.

I explained that nobody else’s house was situated the way mine was, and that the dog-owners' other neighbor worked and traveled a great deal.  She also had a SECOND floor bedroom, well out of the "line of fire."  I’m sure the barking was nowhere near the intrusion for the other neighbor that it was in our house.

I wrote to Animal Control, explaining the circumstances, and pleading with them TO act, in this case.

They wouldn't act.  

The barking continued.

I asked the Fort Collins Police Department to intervene.  

They wouldn’t.  

The only animal noise complaints that they pursued were based on referrals from Animal Control, who had already refused to act OR refer the matter.  Apparently, this is a pretty common catch-22 in many cities.

I was stuck.  

My health was deteriorating.  I was chronically exhausted.  My vision was getting worse.  It was all but impossible for me to engage in the critically important outdoor pursuits.

As my long-time primary care ophthalmologist had always said, "Four things will ALWAYS make your vision worse: fatigue, illness, stress, and intoxication."  At this point, I had all four strikes against me.  I was a medical wreck.

I reached out to the property manager of the neighborhood’s Homeowners’ Association -- letting them know that this had been going on for eight months, and that all civil, friendly, and reasonable efforts to resolve it, between neighbors, had failed.  

I let them know the toll it was taking on my health, and pleaded with her to help.

She promised to help.

But things didn't get better.  

Reaching out to the property manager, again, I was told that “the Homeowners’ Association does not want [us] to pursue any further action.”  They recommended that I “contact a Board member.”

I was among the last to move into this rather small neighborhood -- one where the close-knit feeling among the residents had a strong appeal.  But I quickly realized that this close-knit community was a double-edged sword.  

Dealing with worsening medical issues, since shortly after moving in, meant that I hadn't been able to “join” the community, as I had hoped to, and that the Homeowner’s Association comprised this tight-knit group of friends.

I asked the property manager for the contact information for the Board members.  She gave me only one name: that of the Vice President of the HOA's Board of Directors.

Meanwhile, the situation appeared on the radar screen of the City’s Mediation Coordinator 

The Mediation person mailed a letter to me, asking if I would be interested in mediation.  I responded that I would be glad for the opportunity, and -- on several occasions -- asked her to call me to talk things over.

The Mediator never called me back, despite me leaving several voice mail messages and sending numerous emails trying to speak with her.

I sent the HOA's Vice President a note, explaining the magnitude of the barking problem, the impact it was having on me, and the neighborly way in which I had asked the neighbors for help in resolving the issue.

The HOA Vice President wrote back, saying that the HOA wasn't going to take any steps to resolve the issue, “since there are so many folks with dogs,” and “they all know that our own dogs are prone to bark at times, and do not wish to be hypocrites.”

Nobody would ever just speak to me about the problem, no matter how often I asked to meet.

Nobody stopped by to see the unfortunate proximity of my home and bedroom to where the dogs spent most of their waking hours, or to understand that there was no escape, within my home, from the intrusion of the barking, and that the barking wasn't just a brief and occasional issue, but would go on hour after hour, day after day.

After a while, I wrote back to the HOA Vice President, pleading with him to reconsider, to understand the circumstances involved, that the problem wasn't occasional and annoying, but inescapable, chronic, and taking a devastating toll on my health.  

I offered to meet with the Board, anywhere, and at any time, to go over the particulars and make my case.

The HOA Vice President didn’t respond.

I reached out to him one last time, asking for the contact information for the entire Board of Directors.

The HOA Vice President then responded with a shocking list of reasons why he didn’t like me, personally, and explaining how close his friendship was with the dog-owning neighbors.  It was just a scathing and vicious personal attack.

While the HOA Vice President had only met me, personally, once, and briefly, he went on and on, for several paragraphs, about all of the things that he thought were wrong with me, none of which were true, and none of which had anything to do with the actual problem.

Rather than explore the truth of the barking situation, the HOA Vice President and his neighbors began looking into me, personally, looking for ways to demonize me, rather than address the barking issue, itself.

And, still, not a soul would meet with me or talk to me.

The HOA Vice President closed by telling me to leave him and everybody else in the neighborhood alone, and made it clear that -- while I had done everything in my power to keep this issue confined to only the people in a position to do anything about it -- it had become a neighborhood-wide issue, and that “the majority of the neighborhood” had turned on me.

I scheduled a Mediation date with the neighbors, despite never having had a chance to talk with the Mediator, directly.  

When the Mediation date came, my wife and I were there.  Nobody else was.

Apparently, the Mediator had canceled the Mediation, but never told me.

Seeing no further “friendly” options, and being too sick to consider moving, I consulted an attorney, and asked her to try to convince the neighbors to curb the dogs’ barking.

The neighbors refused, eventually threatening to sue me for “harassment.”d
By this point, my health was a mess.  I was virtually unable to get outside, and had been battling exhaustion for the better part of a year.  Now, the dog owners were threatening to sue me.  I was being treated with multiple antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals, steroids, and monthly IV infusions of Immune Globulin.

Nothing was working.  The medical bills were piling up.  My health was just crumbling.

In the spring of 2010, more than a year into life with chronic barking, I was now battling insomnia, struggling for any sleep that I could get.  

Unable to sleep in the custom contact lenses that I had to wear, I had to leave them out for days at a time, to allow me to nap when I could.  

This led to a string of sight-threatening corneal problems that forced me to make a nearly impossible drive to Boston, to be treated, for six weeks, at a specialty eye center, there -- a period that I describe as "a lot like torture."  Eight hours a day, five days a week, of enduring excruciating eye pain, in an effort to fit me with new lenses.

I asked my attorney what I should do.  

She suggested that my wife and I file lawsuits against the neighbors for Private Nuisance, and against the HOA Vice President and the Homeowners’ Association for Failure to Enforce Covenants, Breach of Duty of Care, Breach of Duty of Good Faith, and Breach of Contract.

As part of the lawsuit, I learned that the dog-owning neighbors, the HOA Vice President, and our  neighborhood friends had banded together to stop me , spread false and vicious rumors about me, and do everything in their power to side with their friends, the dog-owners. 

They were totally unconcerned about the truth, the barking, or the harm it had caused me.  They simply sided with their old friends, and against this new guy.

Rather than ever talk TO me, the neighbors spent an inordinate amount of time talking ABOUT me.

They had decided that -- since they had “seen [me] ride a bicycle, before,”that I must not be disabled.

As part of the lawsuit, I learned that the dog-owners and their friends had reached out to every member of the community, telling them a one-sided version of what had happened, (but neglecting to mention that I'm disabled and that the noise was hurting me) and saying that I was “trying to force them to get rid of their dogs,” rather than simply train them not to bark so much.

As part of the lawsuit, I learned that several neighbors often heard the neighbors' dogs bark.  

These neighbors lived quite far away from the dogs, relative to my house.  If these neighbors heard the barking from 150 feet away, why couldn't they imagine just how loud it must have been in my house, only a few feet away from the dogs ?

In another document, the situation had been presented as me “insisting that the animals are either removed or put down [killed].”

Nothing could have been further from the truth.

From the beginning, my wife and I loved the dogs.  In fact, I continued to venture outside in an effort to calm and quiet the dogs, even giving them treats from time to time – something the neighbors’ attorney deemed “suspicious” and ordered me to stop.

No.  I never had a problem with the dogs.  The problem was with the owners.

As part of the lawsuit, I learned that the dog-owners had been in lengthy back-and-forth correspondence with the City Mediator (who never returned my phone calls).  The Mediator was counseling the dog-owners on how THEY should handle the situation with THEIR ‘annoying neighbor.’  


To the Mediator, the dog owners, and the neighborhood, I was the annoying, dog-hating neighbor.

Again: the Mediator never got my side of the story, and never spoke with me.

As I later discovered, the Mediator already had a relationship with the dog-owners.

The Mediator soon left the City of Fort Collins.  Her department said that there was no file on my case.  Apparently, the Mediator had destroyed it before departing.

The lawsuit was stressful, painful, and extremely expensive for my wife and me.

Eventually, the Judge dismissed the lawsuit against the Homeowners’ Association, ruling that -- no matter how the HOA acted, what they did, what they did not do, or what laws may have been broken -- since it was up to the Homeowners’ Association whether or not they would enforce the dog barking Covenant -- the case was totally without merit.

The Judge never even considered the other legal Causes of Action.  I never got my day in court.

The Motion for Summary Judgment, then, was decided in favor of the HOA.  


The strategy of the HOA’s attorney was to "prove" that I wasn't disabled at all -- simply factually untrue.  They were given piles of medical records – requested from me – that more than substantiated everything I had said.

The Judge throwing out my case meant that -- in the eyes of the Judge -- there were no issues of law or fact that should be decided by a Judge or a jury.  In law, this is an extremely high bar.  There was no way a Motion for Summary Judgment should ever have been granted in our case.

Even the Judge-Mediator, with whom we met, in Denver (at a Court-ordered Mediation), said that there was no way this could happen.  She said that the case was chock full of issues of fact and law. 

I was denied my day in court.

The Judge then awarded the HOA $73,000 in legal fees, in addition to the nearly $100,000 in fees that I had already spent.

This $73,000 was payable to State Farm Insurance, the policyholder of the HOA's Officers and Directors' insurance.

This took my life’s savings, left me broke, and ... absolutely stunned.  

I was reeling.

Despondent, sick, and without hope of a fair trial, in the Court of this Judge, my wife and I settled with the dog-owners.  

We had spent everything we had, and my health was still going downhill.  

At this point, my only activities were trips to Denver, to be evaluated by Immunologists, Infectious Disease specialists, and Ear, Nose, and Throat specialists, and to get my monthly IV’s.

Eventually, the ENT recommended a sinus surgery to clear up the persistent sinus infection that hadn’t responded to aggressive multi-drug therapy.

While recovering from the surgery, and running a fever, one of the neighbors used his ATV to plow the sidewalks and driveways of the houses on either side of mine.  He plowed all of the snow onto my sidewalk, forcing me – in order to comply with Fort Collins law – to bundle up, perspiring, feverish, shivering, and – literally – with blood dripping out of my nose --and dig myself out of the mountains of snow the ATV-owning neighbor had left me.

I, again, called the Fort Collins Police Department, and begged them to intervene.  I told them that the pattern of behavior of the neighbors – against a medically-disabled man – was escalating.  I told the Police Officer that I was “medically disabled, in chronic pain, have an immune dysfunction, and have been battling serious health issues.”

She – literally – laughed out loud at me, and said that this was “the most ridiculous thing she had ever heard.”

I never recovered my health.  Neither could I make it to my next scheduled trip to the eye specialists in Boston.  

Those Boston trips cost me about $12,000, out of pocket, each time I have to go.  We just didn't have it, anymore.

Since the time that the Motion for Summary Judgment was decided, in favor of the HOA, I had to file multiple police reports against the HOA Vice President, who had begun to harass me on numerous occasions, while the next-door neighbor OF the HOA Vice President tried to run me off of the road, with his truck, and revved the engine of his motorcycle every single time he passed my house.  This same man “played chicken” with me on numerous occasions, as I left the neighborhood for doctors' appointments.

I was physically unable to move out of the neighborhood, to get my health back, or to pursue the outdoor activities that were so critical to both my eyes and the stability of my health.  

For months, I did nothing but be seen by medical specialists, all of whom were stumped about how to restore my health.

I later learned that the Judge is married to the sister of a residential and commercial property builder, who runs Homeowners Associations, and that the Judge’s daughter worked for the Judge’s brother-in-law, as a Property Manager of these Homeowners’ Associations.  

For me, it begged the question of whether or not the Judge should have recused himself, in this case, since it would raise the appearance of bias to many observers.

The Judge’s family made money, and his daughter made a living, by siding with the HOAs, NOT the residents.  I can only imagine the sort of one-sided conversation that took place around that dinner table, when they got together.  I was pretty shocked when I learned how tightly intertwined his life was with HOAs, and -- for the life of me -- couldn't understand why he didn't let another Judge preside over our case.  


But it certainly explains a lot.

The dog-owners finally moved from the neighborhood in the spring of 2011, but not before one of their two puppies -- only about three years old -- died 

It was the dog who barked much more than the other, and made me worry that the dogs were truly NOT okay. 

The dog died of an autoimmune disease. 

I don’t think the dogs ever were okay.  I think she was either sick, and barking because she was sick, or the stress of being left alone so much made her sick.  Either way, the dog died.  It was the worst kind of lose-lose situation, and simply didn't have to happen, in the first place.  


They lost a dog, and I lost everything.  And for what ?

My wife and I look back, in disbelief, at the whole saga.  

We moved to this neighborhood, in Fort Collins, for a better quality of life, and for the sense of community that this neighborhood promised.  We tried to do everything right, abide by the law, and be decent in asking the appropriate people and agencies for help, in a civil and reasonable way.  We still can’t believe this `happened to us.

Having spent nearly all of the winter of 2011-2012 living as a recluse -- leaving my house only for medical visits, I knew that, as spring came, II would have to tend to the landscaping of my property.  There was no way the HOA was going to cut me ANY slack.

But I could find no landscapers to return my call during the busiest part of their season.

Having avoided further threats, assaults, and abuse by the neighbors, by staying inside, it seemed I'd be able to stay inside no longer. 

It was clear that the authorities would do absolutely nothing to protect me from further harm.

For self-defense, I purchased a handgun, was trained in its use, and openly carried it on my property, while maintaining the yard -- perfectly legal in Fort Collins.

I’m not a gun guy. I've never owned a gun in my life.  But the escalating pattern of abuse and torment … against a disabled guy who simply tried to sleep in his home made it impossible for me to know just how far these individuals were willing to go.  And it became clear that the authorities weren't going to help me.  

I was never going to hurt anybody.  I simply had to protect myself from them … again … still.

I only stepped outside my house for the briefest of periods, and after ensuring nobody else was around near my end of the neighborhood.  And … when I did step outside … I openly and legally carried my gun.

In early June, having seen me carrying a handgun ON my property, the HOA Vice President -- hiding behind both the bushes and the side of his house, in his own yard, 155 feet away, and using an eight-power telephoto lens, (despite having told the Police that he was in his garage with his back to me) took a handful of pictures of me carrying the gun.  

He snapped a handful of pictures during the roughly five minutes I had dared to exit my house.  In all but one picture, I was looking down at the yard that I was maintaining.  In one picture, I looked straight ahead for a brief moment.  

A man with a gun was now looking up ... for a brief moment (seconds).

The pictures look a bit incriminating ... because ... the sequence seems to mysteriously stop with the photo where I was looking straight ahead for a brief moment.

The problem is ... the District Attorney told my criminal lawyer that the Fort Collins Police Department had "advised [the neighbor who took the pictures] that he could destroy some of the photographs."

Let me say that again.  The District Attorney told MY lawyer ... that the police told this neighbor (hiding in his bushes, totally invisible to me, and taking pictures with an eight-power telephoto lens) that he could destroy evidence.

The remaining pictures would surely have proved that I was unaware of the presence of anybody else, was simply tending to my lawn and watering my tree, and that I went back inside as quickly as I could.  

Fort Collins Police and SWAT team arrested me.  


There were probably 20 law enforcement officers, in full riot gear, all pointing guns at me.  There was an armored SWAT vehicle in the street, two doors down, and a sniper pointing a rifle at me from across the street.

This is the image that haunts my dreams, awakening me nearly every single night.

They jailed me and charged me with Felony Menacing. 

I was given a “Deferred Prosecution” that required – among other things – an evaluation by a forensic psychologist.  The psychologist concluded that I …

“responded appropriately to the emotional stress and turmoil created by the ongoing dispute by seeking out mental health counseling and his process of problem resolution was progressive and appropriate to the circumstances.  There was no indication that Mr. Brooks responded impulsively or irrationally during the dispute and, while frustrated by the circumstances and outcome of his case, he never verbalized retaliatory or vengeful thoughts against the opposing parties.”

The Court also imposed a Gag Order on me, preventing me from speaking publicly about the case. That Gag Order finally expired, and was dismissed, in September 2014.

Fort Collins has had more than its share of negative publicity, largely due to government malfeasance.  Apparently, this time, they could control the publicity and be sure nobody knew what they had done … at my expense.

They also imposed a Restraining Order ... on ME ... prohibiting me from having ANY contact with several of the neighbors.  Legally ... effectively ... I couldn't go back to my house ... even if I wanted to.

I moved away from Fort Collins, and into a long-term hotel in the Denver area.  We were forced to sell our house.

My wife and then separated.  

I am still pursuing solutions to the issues with my health.  All of my possessions are in Colorado storage spaces, my unprotected, chemically-burned eyes make it impossible for me to live in the State, unless I’m utterly stuck inside – the worst place in the world for me to be.

Since all of this happened, I have been seen by numerous corneal specialists, all of whom agree that I should not wear my life-saving lenses.  I can spend the weeks and the thousands of dollars to TRY to be fit again, but there’s no longer any guarantee that wearing the lenses won’t cause further harm to my eyes.

After talking with Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) attorneys, it became clear that my civil rights, as a disabled person, had been violated by the neighborhood, the Homeowners’ Association, and their property management company, when the Homeowners' Association denied me the "reasonable accommodation" needed to maintain my quality of life.

All I ever asked was that the dogs' barking be curbed.  That’s it.  Nothing more.

It's also likely that the City, the County, and the various governmental agencies' refusal to act constituted a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Unfortunately, my attorney -- from the onset -- told me that there were no federal discrimination issues, in the case.  She was wrong.  If she had made a simple phone call, to see that my case WAS Federal, the case would have been heard outside of Fort Collins, and would have -- almost certainly -- yielded a different result.

Still unable to safely wear the life-saving custom lenses, I left the country, for Central America, in March 2013, on the theory that the extreme humidity of the region might help me stave off additional sight-threatening complications.  It did not work.

In August 2013, I returned to the States, to live with family members, and -- once again -- pursue a path back to the Boston clinic that could TRY, again, to make new lenses for me.  The trip is extremely expensive and extremely painful.  I tried to save money, and began working with a Pain Clinic, a Palliative Care Clinic, and a team of doctors, to get the pain under control, and -- hopefully -- allow me to make the Boston journey anew.

Unfortunately, on Christmas Day, I got sick.  Seriously sick.

After months of doctor visits and procedures, followed by a three-week long trip to the Mayo Clinic, I got a diagnosis of DRESS Syndrome – a life-threatening reaction to a prescription medication – in this case, most likely the anticonvulsant that was prescribed to try to manage my corneal nerve pain.

The Mayo Clinic recommended that I avoid any medication not deemed “absolutely essential,” leaving me with no custom lenses, and no options for treating the recurrent infections OR the chronic corneal nerve pain.

So ... now, I can't be inside (everything at near triggers that charley horse in the focusing muscles of my eyes), and I can't be outside (light, wind, cold, dust, heating, air conditioning ... all sear my eyes.  It's like having seriously chapped lips, or a sunburn -- in your eyes -- and not being able to put anything on them).

I can't treat the chronic neuropathic pain in my eyes, the recurrent infections (that I can no longer stave off), or ... the new addition ... the Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder that I acquired as a result OF this experience.

The local newspaper -- the Fort Collins Coloradoan -- won't cover my story.  They were only too happy to put my SWAT arrest on their front page, including a picture of me in the orange jail outfit.  They seem totally uninterested in publishing what REALLY happened.  

Color me surprised....

The cult of residents in that neighborhood, and the City of Fort Collins, Colorado … have truly taken everything away from me, a disabled man … who had never hurt a soul … and who wanted nothing more than to be able to sleep in his new house.

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Pictures to show you how close together the two houses were/are:




The yellow wall, toward the rear of the photo, is my bedroom.  This picture was from the listing, when the neighbors finally sold their house:



The view from above (Google Satellite) - our house on the left; dog owners' house on the right:





What it looks like to hide in the bushes ... 155 feet away ... taking photos with an eight-power (8X) telephoto lens, while the disabled guy (that you've been abusing and tormenting) takes three minutes to water his tree ... while openly and legally carrying a handgun on his person ... so you don't hurt him.  

Hurt him ... more:


And THIS ... was the view out our window of the precious sister-puppies.  Imagine when they were between the neighbors’ house and the fence line, running toward the street (as they often were, when ANYBODY passed by either of our houses), and barking ... and barking ... and barking:




UPDATES:

In September 2014, I began having dizziness and shortness of breath episodes, determined to be Atrial Fibrillation and Atrial Flutter.  Cardiology sent me to Electrophysiology (EP).  

The EP doc had previously seen two cases of DRESS Syndrome before, so ... while he deemed it critical that we get the arrhythmias under control, he didn't believe that either of the two options (antiarrhythmics + anticoagulants or heart surgery (bilateral cardiac RF ablation) PLUS anticoagulants) was safe.

So the heart trouble gets worse.  

I've had dozens of episodes of near-syncope (world goes gray/black, almost passing out).  I wonder if these people really DID kill me ......

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In January 2015, I was interviewed (for the full hour) by the On The Commons radio show -- a show about Homeowners Associations:

LINK - CLICK HERE

The audio podcast can be found here:

LINK - CLICK HERE

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Neil can be reached at Neil0502 [at] Yahoo [dot] com