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A Detective's Story: Tawana Brawley an Open Case

Below are two excerpts from the 1998 interview with Graham Weatherspoon, Det. NYPD, Ret. Detective Weatherspoon had followed the case in detail and laid it out with all of the known facts in our award-winning  “Evidence Concealed, Now Revealed” issue telling the Tawana Brawley story.

OTP: What do you know about Tawana Brawley’s life before November, 1987?
GW: I did not know her personally, but I’ve been told she was an excellent student, a cheerleader at her high school where she got eighties and nineties in class, an honor student, a member of a church who sang in the choir, and was a regular, everyday young lady.
She lived in the same area as Steven Pagones, an area that was predominately white, and was evidently used to living well. Her parents were both working, and making a good income. Ralph King, her stepfather, worked for the Shortline Bus Company. There was and there still is, a close bond between them. One of her aunts worked for the State of New York.

OTP: When Ms. Brawley was found, what was her condition?
GW: The Slocum-Willem Ambulance Service, was called by the officer on the scene. Upon their arrival she was found in a garbage bag, clutching the bag up under her chin. The paramedic stated that her eyes were closed and he attempted to get a response from her. He broke an ammonia capsule and fanned it under her nostrils but got no response. Upon further examination they noticed a cotton-like substance in her nostrils as well as in her ears. That material was extracted from those canals. He broke another capsule and placed it under her nose and got a slight movement of her head, not the usual jerk of the head that you would get from inhaling ammonia. This gave an indication that she was far from conscious. Her pupils were dilated. There was no response to light. There are a number of things which could induce such a condition.

OTP: Can you fake dilated pupils?
GW: No, you can’t fake dilation of the pupils. That’s an involuntary response of the eye. The iris of the eye will shut down when exposed to great light. That is why when you come out of a movie theater in the day, your eyes hurt when the light hits before the iris shuts down. This did not happen here. Her pupils were wide open and they did not respond to any light. I’m not a medical expert, but there are only two reasons that I know of that would cause this condition. You would have to be heavily drugged or in a state of shock. It was later determined after doing toxicology on Tawana, that there were no drugs in her system which could have induced such a condition relative to the pupil of the eye failing to constrict, so it had to be as a result of some kind of shock. On a scale of zero to fifteen, with zero being flat-line dead, the paramedics at the scene rated Tawana at three. Her condition was serious.”

Tawana Told What Happened
The person who conducted the interview was the white male detective from the sheriff’s office. He did an excellent job in his interview. His interview consisted of ten or eleven pages of questions and answers. One of the things people say is that Tawana never spoke. Tawana spoke in the hospital, and then she spoke to the people there at the house.


OTP: What did she say?
GW: She repeated her statement that five or six white men had attacked her. She was walking home, she got off the Shortline bus, and was walking up the road, it’s a very dark road, a car pulled up, a man got out, showed a badge, it was a police officer, and he grabbed her. She tried to get away; he punched her in the back of the head and threw her in the backseat of the car. There was one other man whose face she didn’t see who was driving the car. She was driven to another location where there were more men. She said that these men raped her repeatedly over a period of time. She was also found to have urine in her mouth at the time that she was found. It’s in the medical reports. It was later determined that she had chlamydia, which is another sexually transmitted disease, which comes as a result of penile penetration. There was a second sexually transmitted disease she had as well. In the medical reports, there is notation of the condition of her pubic area. There was a collection of blood around her pubic area from the constant pounding. As a matter of fact, the doctor who examined her wrote down “Sexual assault” as a possible cause of her condition.

For the entire interview and to learn more about the Tawana Brawley case, go to and search for:  Tawana Brawley

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