Friday, June 27, 2008

Rookie Mistake

The Day I Thought I Was Going To Die
Rated E--Explicit/graphic

Well this is another one of those "while I was on patrol" stories, but again it was one of while on the morning shift. Funny I can't remember what day of the week it was but I know it was a weekend so that narrows it down to either Saturday or Sunday. And for some reason I believe it was Saturday. It was fairly early on that morning. Our shift started at 0600 and we were on the streets by 6:30. I had zone five, that was the poor part of town, I had trained in that zone, and was familiar with it. So I was patrolling my zone which was a pretty good size one. Far as area, it was probably one of the largest. Several square miles, but I loved it. The area I patrolled was called the Ville. I don't know why it was called that, had been called that long as I can remember and as long as others remembered. But we can't call it that now. It is offensive, and we have to call it Southern Heights. I still don't know what it means, but even the people who lived there called it that. There were some really good people that lived in the Ville, some very old people for it was an old part of our town. But it had seen its better days, was getting pretty run down, with lots of drugs, and violence occurring. Low income apartments had been built in that area and now were pretty much shut down. They were old and dilapidated. Yes, it had seen better days in that part of town, now seedy characters lived there, and then the really nice people that could not afford to leave their residence which they had called home for years.

I was a Rookie. I had not been out on my own for very long. I knew the "rules", I had gone through the academy, I had made good grades. I was even pretty text book smart! Hey, I even had a college degree to boot. But that just didn't seem to matter this day. For I had Rookie-itis. I think it might be the same thing as "buck fever" for deer hunters. You get caught up in the moment it seems. Today I got "that" call. A burglary in progress. Two men had broken into a house down in the Ville, way down in the Ville and I was going to go. But someone else beat me there. That figures. And the bad guys had already left. But they had a description of the vehicle and direction of travel. I knew that area pretty well and I knew there were not too many ways in and or out. So I started going to where I thought I might catch up with them. The other officer starts calling out the description of the vehicle. A newer model white pickup occupied by two white males. Zoom, they went right past me. Man I slammed on the brakes, whipped around and started after them. I radioed headquarters stating I had the suspected spotted. Ok,this is a felony. They broke into an occupied dwelling house, burglary 1st degree, felony. I know how to do a felony traffic stop, I KNOW HOW TO DO IT. And you are suppose to have two cars to do it. Wait for backup, that is what you do. So just follow them till backup can get there. But we are going fast, I am not thinking very clearly, what do I do??? I turned on my lights and sirens. The driver of the vehicle pulls over. I have my car pulled behind him, offset a little to the left, I get out of my car and tell the driver to step out with his hands up. I have my .357 drawn and pointed right at him. The driver steps out and walks towards me with his hands up. He takes about three, four steps and then all the sudden the passenger jumps out of the truck. I yell at him to stop! Get back into the truck! He starts walking towards me. I order him back into the truck now. He looks right at me, his eyes are that piercing look, the look of I don't care what you say. His hands, that is what you watch, they slap towards his chest as he yells, what are you going to do? Shoot me? Well shoot me Bitch! Go ahead, kill me, what's wrong Bitch, can't you shoot me. Now I have to tell you, I WAS SCARED. The eyes, the body language, the verbal language, I knew I was not in a good position and there were two of them. I glanced at the driver, I told him "Don't you move!" He said, "I won't". I yelled at the passenger again, "Stop!, Get back in the truck now." He kept walking towards me, he kept yelling at me, "Shoot me, go ahead, shoot me @#$@!$. As he walked towards me I thought....I have about two choices, either I will have to shoot him, or I will have to get out of there. What that means is to get myself out of the kill zone. I got back into my car with the door still opened, put the car in reverse and backed up. I was still in my doorway, drawn down on the suspect when my backup arrived. Rick pulled in behind me and jumps out of his car. He runs up to my car and I quickly tell him what is going on, and now all the sudden the passenger acts like nothing is wrong. His whole attitude has changed, his talk, his demeanor, everything. Rick tells the driver to get his hands on the truck and don't move them or he will shoot his ass. (sorry! you all) and the driver looks at him and says "yes sir, I won't move!" We then approach the passenger who is starting to act a little froggy, Rick holsters his gun and grabs the guy. I holster mine and the next thing I know Rick has the guy in like a bear hug, spins him around and I yell, "take him down Rick!" Like I must be a cheer leader or something, how stupid! and Rick and the guy just fall straight down. Rick on top. I remember that sound to this day. Rick is a pretty good size guy and the passenger was not THAT big. Bigger than me, but not nearly as big as Rick. And I remember the sound of that guy's breath leaving his body. Ooossshhhh, all his air has been knocked out of him. We grab the guys hands and handcuff him quickly, and then yank him to his feet. We put him the car and then arrest the driver as well. As you have probably figured the passenger was pretty drunk, the driver not, but still caught up in the situation which is not good for him! And of course I got a talkin' to by Rick. I kind of got yelled at like, what the @#$@ are you doing not waiting for backup? Don't you know how to do a felony traffic stop? Yes sir I do. Then why didn't you do it? I don't know, I was afraid he was going to get away from me I guess. Next time you better do it right. Yes sir.

That was pretty much it. Still to this day I second guess myself. Would I have been within my rights to have shot him? He was unarmed. This was before Pepper Spray and Tazer guns. But I truly fear that if he would have gotten close enough to me he would have grabbed me. He would have tried to take my gun. I KNOW this, I feel it, I felt that day I would have died if he would have gotten close enough to me. Was I a coward to get back into my car and back up? Was I coward to not have shot him? Let me tell you, police work is not for the weak. You have to make split second decisions, and then you get to spend your next 20 years thinking about the should of/could of's if you're lucky. That was a day of life experience. No textbook could have prepared me for that. It would have been nice if I would have done what I was taught, it was a Rookie Mistake. Thank you God for being there with me. That was a close one.


Putz said...

voice in the night kvegas 911 has disappeared from the blog scence, but i feel i have found a good replacement, i was a civil service commisioner in my early days, and we used to ask tough questions like: if you walked into an open, just broke into grocery store and saw the till open, and your partner walked over to the till and took a roll of postage stamps and put them in his pocket, what would you do? keep the partner ship viable or report him...

Mental P Mama said...

All I can say is thank goodness for our angels. That was a close one. You know, my husband is a retired police officer, and he has great stories as well. You all have my deepest regard for everything you do.

Michelle said...

WOW, I was so enthralled with your story. I so wanted to be a police officer. When I was on my first army tour I tested for the King County Sheriffs Office. I passed the written and the physical exam with flying colors. I was #86 on the list. There must have been hundreds testing. Alas, the list was only active for 2 years and then I moved on to other things. That was back in 1983. I was taking CJ classes at the local community college at the same time. Keep telling the stories so I can live vicariously through them.

So, based on the scenario that putz put out there...what would ya do?

Lisa J said...

In regards to Putz's question which is one that is often used in recruiting new officers....Of course the right answer is you would report him. Then they go on to grill you.."you would turn on your own partner for something so silly?" or "What? you don't think stealing something like postage stamps as no big deal? Then where is the line? What will you report?" Those are very hard answers. I have reported officers on failing to do their job/or violating the policies on some pretty serious things. But they were officers that were not good officers. I can honestly tell you, I have never been put in the position by my fellow officers whom I repected, valued and looked up to. I have very high morals, and I feel that most officers do to. I even made it perfectly clear if I ever stop you for DUI I will arrest you. I never came across that and I am glad, that would have been a really hard thing to do, but feel it is the right thing to do. Oh I am glad to be retired and moving on to my new stage of life.

Michelle said...

I think I would yell "Hey, what do you think you are doing? You wanna through it all away for a book of stamps?"

Debbie said...

Okay, this one is going to David too..he loves your stories, well I do to of course and sitting here thinking what would I have done and I have no friggin clue!! You have to actually be in that situation and oh God! had me on the edge of my seat the whole time!

I think getting in the car with gun pointed was a sure thing. You could still shoot him from there but you were protected. must have done right, well except the back up part cause you're still here today to tell the story!!

I'll say it again...I have so much damn respect for law enforcement and the job they do every day!!!!

Yeah Lisa!!