It was in the in the late hours of the night when most people are fast asleep in their warm quiet homes. I initially entered the quiet apartment complex looking for what the caller said would be her “ex boyfriend coming to get [her]”. I drove past the playground where little children would generally play during the midday flurry of activities. I didn’t see any children. I really didn’t expect anyone at all. It wasn’t until I approached a small grassy knoll at the end of the complex that I spotted the two dark personages silhouetted against the white fence.
They saw me approaching and immediately turned away as if some commanding officer ordered, “About face!” They quickly scurried behind the apartment building like a cockroach might scurry under the refrigerator after turning on the light.
The late hour, secluded corner, and sudden turn peaked my curiosity.
I jumped out of my patrol car and rounded the corner of the building expecting them to be huddled in the corner. I was surprised to see only one of them standing at the edge of the property where two vinyl fences met.
I saw an exceptionally large female standing in the corner looking like a rat trapped in the corner of its cage.
“Where did your friend go?” I asked the woman.
With a stupid look on her puffy round face she replied, “What friend?”
I figured her partner had scaled the fence and she was too dumb or stout to follow him over. I assumed the latter.
I gazed over the fence and saw the second subject walking down the sidewalk next to the normally bustling yet eerily quiet street. He seemed more anxious to avoid the police than his plump acquaintance. I felt that he needed my attention more that she did.
I scaled the fence and had to walk quickly to gain any ground as he continued at a brisk pace. As I closed the distance I asked him where he was going.
He turned toward me and I saw that he was a small, thin, tattooed man with what appeared to be a permanent scowl etched into his face, most likely from time spent in prison. His hatred for police quickly evident from his expression tone of voice as he told me he did nothing wrong. I saw that his stance was staggered and his fists were clinched as if he were ready for a fight. He wore a thick coat and large backpack.
The thick jacket, large backpack, his stance, his clinched fists and his overall body language screamed WEAPONS, DRUGS, FIGHT!!!
I kept my distance while maintaining my own bladed stance with my hands ready for anything. We stood there for a moment on the side of the normally busy street examining each other. I’m sure we looked like two UFC fighters at the beginning of a bout; the ones that reserve so much detestation for the other that they don’t touch gloves before trying to obliterate each other.
The standoff led me to immediately ask the suspect if he had weapons. He told me he did nothing wrong. I asked again. He told me he did nothing wrong. I had to mentally limber up because I wouldn’t have time before what I knew the next sequence of events would include; a chase, a fight, or a shooting (possibly all three).
I grabbed the radio strapped to my chest and said, “Start me a back.” I hadn’t quite released the button on my radio when, like a startled gazelle, he leaped into the street to flee. He must not have anticipated the curb being so high (4 inches) because he stumbled off and skidded across the road face first. He managed to get to his knees before I lowered my shoulder and smashed into his back. He sprawled out over the blacktop and I landed on top.
We were now lying in the middle of a four lane road and, while trying to gain control of him, I prayed we would be seen by any oncoming traffic.
I thought I had him under control before he spun around to face me. He suddenly reached around by back and pulled me down while his hands began sliding toward my belt.
One thought resonated in my mind; there is a gun brought to every fight I’m in, my own!
As his hands slid toward my gun belt the thought of his proximity to my gun was rampant. I was on my own, though I could hear the distant sirens getting closer, we were in the middle of a road, and I had to stop the threat. I had to change his course of action. I had to make me want to part of this fight!
My training kicked in; I pushed back with my left hand, balled up my fist, and came down on his left cheek with all I had, like a sledge hammer to drywall.
His eyes opened wide with surprise as I reared back and swung another wrecking ball at the side of his face. I vaguely remember his head bouncing off the blacktop with each blow.
He no longer wanted any part of the fight. He rolled over onto his stomach as he screamed, “Why are you hitting me?!” I did not take the time to explain that I was literally fighting for my life.
My efforts were successful. He forgot about wanting to wrestle or reach for my gun. He only wanted to get away.
I did not have a chance to bask in my success because he scrambled to his feet and broke loose from my grip.
I got up and chased him to the other side of the street and down the road. My badge and radio dropped the the ground as I chased him.
I was done fighting! I was done running!
I told him that if he did not stop he would be tasered. I didn't have to remind him of the seriousness of this threat because he immediately threw his hands in the air and dove into some bushes on the side of the road.
I gave him step by step instructions on how to back out of the bushes. I quickly slapped the cuffs on his wrists as my backup arrived.
It turns out that he was fresh out of prison and was selling drugs to get by. He was sent right back to prison where I'm sure his scowl will only be etched deeper.