Most days, Stacy Jaquith is left listless by pain killers, unable to drive and socked by wince-inducing pain if she tries to sit up. Other days for the former Pacifica police officer are even worse.
"I don't wake up. I sleep through the whole day," said Jaquith, 37, of Kings Beach (Placer County). "I wake up, and it's night time, and I hurt so bad."
The damage to her body stems from the day her law enforcement career -- which included a nearly 2½-year stint fighting modern-day slavery in India -- ended in an instant. On April 29, 2010 she pulled over a Palo Alto man who didn't want to be stopped. He ended up driving way with Jaquith clutching his arm, dragging her down Highway 1 a short distance before she let go and slammed to a stop on the pavement. He served less than a year in jail, but Jaquith's painful back injury has continued to dominate her life despite several surgeries.
Since getting hurt, Jaquith says she's accumulated about $118,000 in debt due to her injury, which has left her asking for a little bit of the help she used to give others. An online collection is taking donations, and her former colleagues in Pacifica hope to help her.
"Our goal is to assist a fellow officer if it is needed," Pacifica police Detective Cpl. Bill Glasgo said. "She was a very good police officer."
Just before joining Pacifica's department in April 2009 Jaquith had been a trainer and investigator with a nonprofit called International Justice Mission, which fights abuses worldwide, including human trafficking. She spent about 2½ years in India teaching investigators and working with local police to raid operations where people spent decades trying to work themselves out of indentured servitude.
Jaquith recalled one of the men the mission helped rescue, who had been born into work at a rice milling plant, and his discovery of life outside forced labor. One day the man, Tangavelu, went out for ice cream with Jaquith and some colleagues -- it was the first time he'd tasted it.
"He thought it was great," she said. "He had no idea what it was."
This experience, plus about a decade working as a deputy in the Sacramento County Sheriff's Office, got her the job in Pacifica when she decided to return to the United States. It was about a year later when she pulled over Kieran McCarty, 53, on what would be her last day on the job.
McCarty had a suspended driver's license, and Jaquith was preparing to have his car towed. But as she was doing so, he started the car to drive away and she instinctively grabbed his arm.
She held on for several seconds before letting go and crash-landing hard on her side. But her adrenaline was pumping so she jumped into her car and gave chase. Minutes later McCarty's car broke down and he was arrested, though he would later avoid prison.
When he was sentenced in January 2011 San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Barbara Mallach gave him three years probation and credit for the 267 days he'd spent in jail, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said. McCarty was believed to be suffering from mental illness.
Within an hour of McCarty's arrest, Jaquith was on her way to the hospital in the worst pain she'd ever felt. The agony had not gone away nearly 1½ years later, when doctors gave her the crushing diagnosis: she might never work as a police officer again. The back injury left her unable to even get to the post office or go shopping alone, and she continues to shuffle along with the help of a walker.
Meanwhile the expenses keep piling up. Some medicines and treatments are covered through workers' compensation while others aren't, Jaquith said. But the situation became dire in February when an appellate court decision changed state law, cutting off her only source of income, disability checks.
She said she had already been forced to burn through savings, max out her credit cards and go to friends for thousands in loans. Jaquith has undergone several surgeries to fix the damage in her back and takes a potent cocktail of prescription drugs to deal with the pain.
But lately there is room for some optimism. Her medical retirement payments have kicked in, though she says it's about 55 to 60 percent of what she made as an officer. She declined to disclose her salary when she last worked, but according to the city of Pacifica's salary scale, it would have been $82,700 to $99,100 a year.
She also recently took part in a program at Stanford Hospital, intended to help her live better despite the pain. Jaquith is also in outpatient care in Palo Alto, with the goal of being able to again do the little things she once took for granted.
"It's giving me a bit of hope," Jaquith said. "I'm hoping that by the time I leave I'll be able to drive again and go to the store and get my own mail. But we'll see. We'll see what happens."
People can donate online at www.gofundme.com/Support-Officer-Jaquith or send a check to Officer Stacy Jaquith, Account No. 1383205 at S.F. Police Credit Union, P.O. Box 22219, San Francisco, CA 94122. Contact Joshua Melvin at 650-348-4335, and follow him at Twitter.com/melvinreport.