Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Justice with a sad ending

Back in the day when I was assigned to my previous department's patrol division, I chose to work the weekend graveyard shift from 6:30 pm to 7:00 am.  The station house was small, typically with 3 patrol deputies working the Town at night.

It just so happened that our patrol supervisor, a sergeant called in sick on a Sunday night. Lucky me being the senior patrol deputy, I was designated the patrol supervisor for the night. Technically that left 2 patrol deputies for the entire Town.

Graveyard on Sunday night is typically "quiet".  We cops don't like the word "quiet".  We like to use the words, uneventful, manageable, calm, etc., and if you couldn't remember those words, it could be referred to as the "Q word".

Sound superstitious?  Yes, absolutely!  We'd joke around with the other deputies saying things such as, "It sure is 'quiet' in beat 3 tonight."

If the "Q word" was spoken we'd be expecting the "shit to hit the fan" sometime during our shift.  As typical of my beat partners, it was the usual banter, "Hey 2 Wheel, (with laughter mixed in) I hope things go smoothly and 'quiet' for you as the patrol supervisor tonight." 

My reply was, "yeah, but your asses will be taking the 'paper' so I can properly supervise you clowns."  

Sunday night progressed typically, not very many calls for service with plenty of time to finish reports from the busy Friday and Saturday nights.  Oh and plenty of time for coffee, the life's blood of an older generation of graveyard cops.  It seems the newer generation prefers those high doses of caffeinated drinks which tastes like soda.  Thank god Chevron is open 24 hours, and has hot coffee on!

About 4:00 am I hear one of my beat partners get dispatched to a 911 hang-up call.  This is a pretty common call, usually dialed in by some ones fax machine, someone trying to dial India, or telephone line problems due to the rain.

I start to head towards the address to back up my brother deputy.  I arrived on scene first and followed our usual tactical approach.  Needless to say as I was able to see toward the front door, which was open, I saw one man lying on top of another with blood all over the foyer.

By then the victim's wife is on the phone to dispatch saying her husband had been shot three times and was able to wrestle the suspect to the ground.  I received this info from dispatch just as the victim said, "I'm dying."

I told the victim, Mr. X to lay back off of the suspect as I handcuffed him.  I then directed Mrs. X to apply pressure to the bullet wound to his neck.  I will never forget her sobbing as she gently cradled Mr. X's head in her lap and repeatedly told him "I love you, I love you."

Business wasn't finished.  I had one of the other deputies request an ambulance code 3 and to stay with Mr. and Mrs. X.  Myself and my trusted beat partner then "cleared" (check for additional suspects and victims) the house.  We found their sons still fast asleep despite the commotion that obviously went on.

Mr. POS (Piece of Shit) still lay on his stomach in his own blood.  POS was bleeding from the back of his head.  I kneeled down to Mr. X and told him his sons were alright.  I also knelt down to listen to any dying declaration that Mr. X might say as to what had happened.

The Fire guys arrived.  The great thing was that Mr. POS's injuries were so severe they took him out via air ambulance and Mr. X out via ground ambulance.  

It turned out that Mr. POS was an employee of Mr. X and ran the company when Mr. X was out of town.  Mr. POS had embezzled a lot of money from the business and Mr. X was looking into the reason the books didn't balance.

I was later able to listen to the dispatch tape.  You could hear the commotion going on in the background as Mrs. X said someone was in their house, followed by her screams and gunshots. At one point the phone was dropped and as Mr. X wrestled the gun and Mr. POS to the ground, you could hear Mr. X telling Mrs. X to "shoot him", but during their struggle the gun actually came apart.

Mr. X told his wife "grab a wine bottle".  She obviously did as Mr. X was telling her "hit him!" You could hear the sound of the wine bottle making some nice contact with the back of Mr. POS's head.  The back of his head looked like cherry pie filling.

Later, our Detective Sergeant called me into his office and showed me the call as typed in by a dispatcher (call history).  I was shocked to see that a lot of very important information was not broadcast to those of us responding.

Some of that important information were neighbors calling in a fight at the front porch, gunshots being heard, screaming, you know the little things us cops would greatly appreciate to know as we roll up onto the scene.  Unfortunately the dispatcher was "papered" for not broadcasting the incoming updated information.

I'm thankful that I didn't become complacent in my tactics and became a victim myself had Mr. POS been successful in murdering Mr. X.

Mr. X had a true fight or flight response.  He was going to fight to the death to protect his wife and children.  I think he and Mrs. X did a great job.  The only better ending  would have been if Mr. X had killed Mr. POS.

Mr. POS has been a guest of the California State Prison System on us taxpayers and will continue to be a guest for a long time.

The true tragedy to this story is about a year later I answered a call on the court where Mr. X lives.  After clearing the call, I bumped into Mr. X.  The fact that he even recognized me from his family's horrific night was astonishing.  He wanted to thank me, I told him he was the true hero that night.

Mr. X went on to tell me how that night had changed him.  He sadly told me that he and his wife were currently in divorce proceedings and the house was up for sale.  I asked if they had tried the counseling route.  He told me that they had not.  I reminded him that the events of that night were absolutely traumatic for him and his family.  I told him it was not uncommon for people to fall victim to post traumatic stress disorder, even us cops can and do experience this.

Being a victim twice over..... Protecting your family with the thought that you had lost your life doing so, and then losing you family due to the difficulty in coping with the aftermath of emotions.

I truly hope that Mr. and Mrs. X were able to save their marriage.  

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