Tactical Alert

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Central Station. The Detective’s Room. There are two sheriff’s detectives from their sex crimes unit in the room with our arrestee, and those guys are definitely not happy with him! They weren’t happy with being dragged out here in the first place, though they were happy to hear that the son of a bitch got caught. I don’t speak Spanish, but I speak fluent bullshit and bullshit is the same in any language. I can tell he’s giving them nothing but bullshit. They brought copies of the crime reports and this asshole is toast. Both women – or should I say woman and girl – identified him by name. They knew him. That plus the physical evidence makes both cases a slam-dunk. At least, it’s a slam-dunk as long as some idiot prosecutor doesn’t decide he’s just a poor misunderstood victim of circumstance and institutional racism. Unfortunately, that’s a very real possibility in today’s political climate.

Officer Woodward is about to explode. He’s back there watching through the one-way glass and he wants to go in there and beat the living shit out of the guy. That’s understandable. The guy is just lying his ass off and everyone knows it, but the detectives seem to think that if they keep talking to him, he’ll finally break down and admit the truth. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a detective and I don’t know shit about interrogating people, but considering the fact that this guy has already been to prison and he’s facing charges that will not only get him locked up for life, but will probably get him killed in some horrible fashion once he’s back inside, I don’t see why he’d ever admit to anything. There’s no benefit for him. They won’t reduce the charges and it’s not like they can keep in in solitary confinement for life. Protective custody? That’s just a bad joke. Remember what happened to Edwin in our Chinatown case? Yeah, he wasn’t very protected, was he? Ask anyone who works corrections: the assholes can get to you in protective custody. They do it all the time. So this guy knows his only hope is to shut up, don’t give up anything, and pray that a lawyer can get him off on a technicality. In short, he’s not going to talk.

Time to find Harper and get back out in the field. I saw him in the Report Writing Room a few minutes ago. I guess he didn’t feel like watching our arrestee lie his ass off. Then again, there’s a basketball game on and some of the guys are in there watching it. I never got into basketball, but we’ve got some major fans on the department. One good thing: Harper doesn’t like to gamble, so I don’t have to worry that he’s got any money on the game. We’ve got some major gamblers on the job. I’m talking about guys who probably should see a therapist about it. I’m glad I never caught that bug and neither did Harper.

There he is. Hang on! He’s talking to Acevedo and they’re looking at a phone! Red alert! We’ve got a critical situation here!

“Harper! What are you two looking at?”

Caught you! Look at his face! He knows he’s busted!

“Nothing. Just a picture of Acevedo’s girlfriend.”

Uh-huh! Most women have to worry about their husbands watching porn, and Acevedo’s girlfriend definitely qualifies as porn. But I know those two. I know exactly what they were looking at!

“Let me see that phone! Ha! I knew it! It’s a motorcycle!”

An old junker of a motorcycle! Just the kind that Harper could buy for a song and spend the next six months fixing up in our garage!


“You’re not getting one! Wipe that shit from your brain! I am not having you turn our garage into a greasy wreck again! It took forever to clean it up after you built that Super Bee!”

“And look how it turned out!”

Fair enough. It’s beautiful and it runs like a dream and it’s probably worth a small fortune now. He’ll probably win some trophies when he enteres it in some local car contests, but that’s not the point!

“We still have grease stains on the floor because of that thing! And how many times did I find car parts soaking in God knows what in our sink? No more! Besides, you’re a father now. Those things are too dangerous. Do you know how many motor cops we’ve lost to crashes?”

“Dani, they ride every day in congested traffic. This would just be a weekend thing. And I could get parts for it for next to nothing.”

“And you’d be scrubbing them in our kitchen and chrome plating them in the garage and exposing our little girl to toxic chemicals! Not happening!”

And he gives Acevedo that “Don’t worry, dude. I’ll talk to her” look! He’ll be picking out his funeral suit if I see him and Acevedo dragging some hunk of junk into our garage!

“I mean it, mister! Keep it up and you two are not allowed to play together anymore! I have spoken! So let it be written, so let it be done!”

Hang on! We’ve got Vinell racing in here! What happened?

“Guys! They just had someone try to shoot up the station in Lafayette Division! They’ve got a perimeter for the suspect!”

Jesus Christ! That’s no coincidence! This has got to be related to the shooting in Woodlawn!

“Was anyone hurt?”

He’s out of breath. This must be some massively serious shit!

“Vinell, I said…”

“I don’t know. It only just happened. Somebody walked in the front door and started shooting. I don’t know if they hit anyone. They’ve got units set up in a two-block radius from the station and they just called for a K9 unit. Lieutenant Hagan’s got the radio tuned to Lafayette frequency. They’re trying to piece it together.”

We need to hear this! Jesus, this has got to get the department to move on this thing! We need to let the whole city know this shit has to stop! There’s Lieutenant Hagan and Sergeant Gellar. I can hear the radio going crazy! People are talking over each other. Calm down, guys! If you don’t have any relevant information, shut up and listen for someone who does!

“Sir, what’s the situation? Was anybody hit?”

“Unknown. No one’s called for EMS, so that’s a good sign. The suspect took off in a car and crashed about three blocks from the station. They’ve got a perimeter up. I’m not sure if they’re looking for one or two suspects. Some units are saying it was just the shooter and others are saying there was a getaway driver. The K9’s en route.”

“How many officers work the front desk at Lafayette Division?”

“Two or three. But that doesn’t mean there weren’t more officers up there when the gunman opened fire.”

“Did anyone return fire?”

“Unknown. Nobody’s said anything about it.”

I hate this “unknown” shit! I can’t stand not knowing if anyone’s been shot! Somebody say something already! Let everyone know what’s going on! Half the department is probably listening in on this right now! We need answers!

“I take it this is some kind of retaliation thing?”

“I’m not jumping to conclusions and neither should you. Right now, all we can do is wait and see.”

I know, but I can’t stand it! We could have two or three dead officers over there right now! An attack on the station? Why haven’t they declared a tac alert? We know all about attacks on police stations at this division. I can still remember the flash and the blast from when the bomb went off in our lobby. What the hell are they waiting for?

“All units, this is a tactical alert broadcast. South Bureau is on tactical alert due to an unusual occurrence in Lafayette Division. All units, this is a tactical alert broadcast. South Bureau is on tactical alert due to an unusual occurrence in Lafayette Division.”

There it goes. At least that will free up more officers to respond to the scene.

“What do you want us to do, sir? We could go down there and help them out.”

“I can’t authorize you to leave the division, but if they don’t wrap this up pretty quickly, I’ll call Captain Mayones and get permission to send everyone I can spare. Good enough?”

No, but it’s the best we’re going to get.

“Good enough, sir. Keep us posted. Come on, Harper. Let’s get back out there.”

“Lynott! I don’t want to do a location check and find your car in Lafayette Division! Is that understood?”

“Roger that, sir.”

“I’ll keep you posted. That’s the best I can do right now. Get back out there and stand by for radio calls. Avalon will be sending units to that perimeter, so you might end up handling some calls in their division.”

Oh, wonderful! I barely know my way around the major streets down there. Time to break out the maps again. I don’t know why I’m worried. They got the perimeter up in a hurry. They’ll catch him. Or them; whichever. They might even end up shooting the son of a bitch. Jesus, what the hell is happening to this city? Are we all determined to go down in flames? Because that’s exactly what’s going to happen at this rate and no one seems to want to stop it. All of this because a patrol unit shot a psycho with a knife? That’s nothing unusual, so why the hell is everybody determined to make it the cause of the apocalypse? Why do the assholes want to start a war in their own backyard? Has the whole city gone insane? Or am I the crazy one and I just can’t see beyond the surface? God, I wish I knew. One thing is for certain: at this rate, I’ll definitely go insane if this shit doesn’t stop. I can feel it.

Out on patrol, three hours later. They got them. Both of them: the gunman and the driver of the getaway car. Two gangbangers from Westside 66th Street. The K9 found them in a garage, hiding behind a car. One of them gave up right away and the dog took a chunk out of the other one. They’re both in custody. No one over at Lafayette got hit. The gunman walked in and yelled something about payback and opened fire. His insistence on the dramatic entry gave the desk officers time to dive for cover. No one managed to fire back, so the whole thing got wrapped up without any officers firing their weapons. The only one who got any payback was the dog. All in all, a good outcome under the circumstances. But it just goes to show how bad this shit is going to be when our guys walk out without and indictment. If the idiot fringe is this mad right now, then imagine how they’re going to react when the powers that be claim that the shooting was justified? It’s going to be a royal fucking mess.

Well, I’m trying not to dwell on it. On a more domestic note, Harper’s dropped a few hints that he really wants to buy that motorcycle. Boys and their toys! What is it with them? Why do all of their hobbies have to be so expensive and make a total mess? Don’t they have any simple hobbies that don’t involve an industrial cleanup afterward? When my dad decided to build a deck in our backyard, we were buried in wood shavings for months! My mom had to lock his guns away in order to keep from using one of them to kill him. I just remember brushing the wood dust from my hair a lot. It was everywhere. Harper’s junk projects don’t literally get in my hair, but they’re filthy, noisy, and massively inconvenient. I am done waking up at eight in the morning to the sound of a metal grinder after a long shift! He’s not getting that thing! Besides, as soon as my mom found out that he had a motorcycle, she’d fly out here and kill him. She’d probably kill me for letting him have it, too. No, I’ll have to direct his attention elsewhere. Fortunately, I have just the thing to accomplish that. My favorite lingerie shop had a sale and I picked up a few highly intriguing pieces that I’ve yet to try out on him. Some of them are guaranteed to put him in the right frame of mind. They sure as hell did it for me when I tried them on. That’ll definitely keep his mind on the more important things in life, which is exactly where it belongs.

We didn’t get any calls in Avalon Division, which was a good thing. They’ve got some strange streets on the east side of the division that are hard to get around on. They’ve also got the biggest industrial district in the city down around 58th Street. The homeless haul their stolen junk down there on foot, if you can believe it. And the recyclers down there are so corrupt that some of our skid row residents have the audacity to call it the Den of Thieves. Holy pot calling the kettle black, Batman! Anyway, I’m glad we didn’t have to go down there and I’m glad they got the situation in Lafayette Division settled without any bloodshed. We got lucky tonight. We didn’t last night, and who knows what’s going to happen tomorrow night? We’re really living day to day with this shit. It’s nerve-wracking to say the least.

“Hey, Dani? Did you see they raised the price of gas at that station near us to $4.25 a gallon?”

Oh, here we go!

“And a motorcycle would be so much more fuel efficient! Forget it! Besides, I saw that monster you were looking at! How big is that engine? A hundred cubic inches?”

“One hundred and seven. But it’s still a lot more…”

“Lethal! You crack up on that thing and Emily is going to grow up without a father! I didn’t make you get rid of the Super Bee when she was born, but I’m drawing the line at this! Besides, I dated a guy who had a Harley! You could hear that thing from two blocks away! Your hot rod is bad enough! You said you were going to change the exhaust on that thing to bring it down a few hundred decibels and it still sounds as loud as a tank!”

“Dani, I can get that bike dirt cheap! Acevedo’s got a line on it! I could have that thing up and running in no time! It’s not a total restoration like the car was. It just needs a little work, that’s all.”

“But it won’t stop there, will it? No, you’ll have to have all the chrome and the custom paint job and all the crap that’ll sink our discretionary budget for a year! I know you, Harper! You’re a hopeless gearhead! You’ll insist on turning that thing into a showpiece and the next thing you know, I’ll be chasing you across the lawn with a baseball bat for waking me up at the crack of dawn with that metal grinder! The answer is no!”

There! I put my foot down! I made my stand and that’s that! And in a couple of days, I’m going to find that fucking thing in our garage, leaking oil and spiders crawling all over it just like the last time! I know he’s going to buy it! I just know it! And when he does, he’s a dead man!

“You know, Dani? You’d look really hot on it. You could get yourself a black leather riding outfit. I’d really like to see you in that.”

And I’d look like a dominatrix, which sort of has an appeal to me. It might spice things up in the bedroom; not that they’re not already plenty spicy. But the answer is still no! I can get the outfit without him getting the bike. I’m sure he’ll enjoy peeling a skin-tight pair of leather riding pants off of me. I’m pretty sure I’ll enjoy it, too. I’ve never been fucked while wearing a biker jacket and nothing else. It sounds like fun. In fact, I should start looking around for one. It’ll help him forget about the motorcycle for a while.

“Eight Central to dispatch, we’re following a code thirty-seven vehicle westbound on 11th Street, approaching Palomar. Black Honda four-door, license 8SIG329. Requesting backup and an air unit.”

So much for the dominatrix fantasy! Time to go to work! That’s a stolen vehicle. We’re on 9th Street and Palomar is three blocks west of here. We can be there in a flash.

“Sixteen Central to dispatch, show us responding code two high. We’re on 9th Street heading toward Palomar. We’ll meet Eight Central there. Hit it, Harper!”

“Hang on!”

Out for a joyride or headed for some alley to strip the thing, no doubt. As usual, we need to keep them from getting onto the freeway or else we’ll have a high-speed pursuit. Now I’m really glad it stopped raining. I’m running the plate. I want to see where that thing was reported stolen. And the winner is…Eastside Division! Right next door. All right, coming up on Palomar…there! There they are! There’s only one guy in the car. That’s a little unusual. One guy isn’t going to strip a car by himself and what’s the fun of a joyride if you don’t share it with your idiot friends?

“Sixteen Central, we’re at 9th and Palomar with Eight Central. Be advised, we see only one occupant in the suspect’s vehicle. Rosen, we’ll pull in right behind you and when we do, you light them up.”

“Roger that, Sixteen. Be advised, this guy’s been thrashing his head around and yelling to himself. He’s pretty mad about something.”

Yeah, he’s mad about being in a stolen car with the police right behind him! That tends to piss off most car thieves. All right, we’re making the turn. We’re behind Eight Central. Light them up, guys!

“Eight Central, we’re lighting this guy up northbound Palomar, south of 8th Street. Sixteen Central is our backup.”

And there goes the lightbar! So the question is, will this guy pull over, take off like a bat out of hell, or bail out of the vehicle and run through the alleys? We’re about to find out. Hey, would you look at that? He’s pulling over! He’s even signaling the turn! We may have a guy who actually saw the light! Literally!

“What do you think, Harper?”

“A law-abiding car thief?”

Yeah, it doesn’t make any sense to me, either. Car thieves don’t just surrender quietly. Not when the freeway onramp is four blocks up and a few locks over from here. Let’s see what we’ve got. God, please don’t let it be a psycho! Just let him surrender and nobody gets hurt! Go! Out of the car! Guns drawn and prone him out! Rosen’s already giving him the orders, so we’re just backup.

“Driver! Shut it off and throw the keys out the window! Come out of the car with your hands up!”

What have we here? That guy definitely doesn’t look hardcore. He looks like an average white guy, maybe thirty. This is our car thief on skid row? What’s wrong with this picture? I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it: this guy is fucking furious! Oh, this is not good! This is starting to give me a flashback to the Reid shooting! No fucking way! This is not happening to me again!

“Sixteen Central, we need a supervisor here code three! We’ve got a male white suspect who’s going major 415 on us! We don’t know what his problem is, but we need a sergeant here now!”

“Sixteen Central, roger. Sixty Central is en route to your location. ETA is about twenty seconds.”

Thank God! This guy is mad enough to chew iron and spit rust! What the hell is his problem? Please tell me he’s not dusted! I can’t handle another duster! Not two nights in one week! And Rosen definitely isn’t getting anywhere with this guy!

“Driver! Step out of the car with your hands in the air! Do it now!”

And here comes the air unit! There goes the floodlight! Come on, guy! You’re caught! There’s nowhere to go! Just give it up! Don’t do this shit!

“Fuck you! Leave me the fuck alone! This is my car!”

Uh, stealing it doesn’t make it yours, pal! Fuck! He’s not coming out! Stupid motherfucker! What the fuck is your problem? You pulled over nicely enough! Now just get out of the car and surrender! Here come the rest of our units! I hope to God one of them is the Sarge!

“Lynott! What the hell is going on with that guy?”

Ask and ye shall receive! Sergeant Hendrickson! Good! He can help rip this guy out of the car if need be!

“I don’t know, Sarge. The guy pulled over right away, but now he won’t get out of the car. He’s screaming that it’s his car. It’s definitely in the system as stolen from Eastside Division.”

“Is he drunk? Stoned?”

“I don’t know. He doesn’t even look like someone who should be in this neighborhood. I’ve got to tell you, I was getting a bad flashback.”

“Don’t worry, Lynott. This isn’t the Reid shooting. No one’s going to shoot this guy.”

“Yeah, but you may have to rip him out of the car. He won’t get out.”

And that look on his face? Right there with you, Sarge!

“Sarge, I think you’d better take over the instructions. Maybe he’ll listen to you?”

And there he goes! I can’t believe this idiot still hasn’t come out of the car. He can’t be that stupid. That car is full of places to hide a weapon. Fidgeting around in the car is the most likely way to get yourself shot. Once he’s out of the car, unless he rushes us or keeps one hand behind his back like he’s got a weapon, he’s not going to get shot. Tased? Pepper sprayed? Whacked with a nightstick? Kicked in the ass? Possibly. But he’s not going to get shot.

“Listen up, you in the car! My name is Sergeant Jack Hendrickson! You are driving a stolen vehicle! You are under arrest! Come out of the car with your hands in the air and you won’t get hurt! There is nothing to discuss! You are coming with us right now! Get out of the car or we’ll remove you by force!”

Son of a bitch! It worked! He’s getting out of the car! God, he’s a skinny little shit! He’s not much taller than me, either! What is it with the whole Napoleon syndrome? The little guys get pissed off or drunk and they turn into Mister Hyde every goddamned time!

“This is my fucking car! I paid for it! It’s fucking mine! I have the right to drive it any fucking time I want!”

Oh, hell! I know what this is! He bought that car for his girlfriend and they broke up and she said she’s keeping it! Yeah, I saw this a couple of times in Morningside Division. It’s basically a domestic dispute, but as long as her name is on the registration and his isn’t, then it’s legally her car. We have to arrest him. It sucks, but there it is.

“Buddy, that car is reported stolen! We have to do this by the numbers! Just drop to your knees and put your hands behind your head! No one wants to hurt you! Let’s just get through this, all right? Come on! Make it easy on yourself!”

Expecting rational thinking from a guy who just got screwed over by his girlfriend? I think the Sarge has been out of the relationship game for too long. For a guy whose wife just dumped him, you’d think he’d understand this sort of thing. Oh, fuck! Our jilted idiot is getting back in the car! Wrong move, idiot! This moron is trying to get his ass kicked! Look around you, you idiot! There’s six police units and a sergeant here! You’re not going anywhere except to jail!


“I see him! I’ve had it with this fucking idiot!”

He’s headed right for the car! I don’t think that guy’s got a weapon in there, but he could still do a lot of damage with that car!

“Hey! Moron! I told you to get the hell out of that car! You’re under arrest! Get your ass back out here or I’m going to bust the window and drag your ass out through it!”

“You have no right to arrest me! This is my fucking car! I’m taking it home! Fuck you!”

And here comes the nightstick! And there goes the window!

“Get out of that fucking car! You are a stupid son of a bitch!”

We’d better get in there before the Sarge rips that guy in half!


“Let’s go!”

Oh, too late! Sergeant Hendrickson just ripped the idiot out through the window! And the guy’s trying to fight! He’s insane! The Sarge is twice his size! He’ll break him in half! Run! Get over there! We have to save that fucking idiot from himself!

“Police brutality! Police brutality! Let go of me! Let me go, you fuck!”

“Knock it off before I choke your ass out!”

“You’re threatening me! I feel threatened! I don’t feel safe! Somebody help me! Get him off me!”

Oh, my God! He’s a goddamned snowflake! “I don’t feel safe!” It’s like their secret code! God, I hate these fucking pussies! They’re fucking pains in the ass! Grab him! Grab his legs! Don’t let him kick anybody!

“Calm down! You’re just making it worse!”

“I don’t feel safe! You’re threatening me! You have to let me go! Let me go! I don’t feel safe here!”

“You’re going to get your ass kicked if you keep this shit up! Calm down!”

“You threatened me! She threatened me! You all heard it! She’s threatening me! I do not feel safe! I do not feel safe!”

Jesus fucking Christ! You’re fighting with five police officers! Of course you don’t feel safe! You’re not safe! You’re an inch away from getting a nightstick shoved up your ass!

“Ruiz! Cuff his ass! Hey, moron! Do you see this? This is pepper spray! Do you want a face full of this shit? Knock it off!”

“She’s threatening me! She’s threatening to spray me! You can’t do that! I don’t have a weapon! You can’t threaten me with that! She’s going to kill me! She’s trying to kill me!”

Is he for real? What a fucking piece of shit pussy! It’s pepper spray, you idiot! It doesn’t kill people! It’ll burn your eyes and make snot run out of your nose, but that’s it! But if I strangle your whiny little ass, that’ll definitely kill you!

“Shut up and grow a pair, will you? You’re under arrest for driving a stolen vehicle! Any bullshit you have to say, you can tell it to the judge! Now, get a hold of yourself before I bitch slap the living shit out of you! Fucking snowflake!”

Well, what do you know? That actually got him to shut up! He looks downright indignant. Hey, indignant I can handle. Whining like a little bitch is another matter.

“You people are all a bunch of fascists! You have no right to detain me! I haven’t done anything wrong! This is harassment! I’m going to sue all of you!”

“Go right ahead. Look, this car is in the system as stolen. It shows it was taken in Eastside Division this afternoon. That makes it a stolen car as far as we’re concerned. We don’t have any choice but to arrest you unless you’re the registered owner. I don’t suppose you’re the registered owner?”

“The car is registered to my ex-girlfriend! I paid for it! It’s mine!

See what I mean? Did I call it or what?

“Not according to the law. If she’s the registered owner and she reported it stolen, then you’re pretty much screwed.”

And naturally, he didn’t want to hear that. Jesus, he’s getting even angrier now! What the hell does he want us to do? Our hands are tied. We have to enforce the law. There’s no law enforcement discretion with a felony charge. Commit a felony, go to jail. It’s as simple as that.

“You people are a bunch of fucking murderers! Like that mentally challenged man in the Woodlawn Division? Yeah, you just love to murder people of color!”

Why is it that the most vociferous bullshit about police racism seems to come from middle class white people? I mean, look at this little weasel! I can guarantee he’s never been profiled in his life – unless you count being an asshole and a pussy as a racial profile, and then it’s spot-on!

“You need to stop watching PBS! It’s rotting your brain! Let’s go! You’re going to jail! You can make a phone call from there once you’re booked for car theft.”

“I’m not telling you my name! I’m not telling you anything! I have the right to remain silent! I’m not saying another word!”

“Gee, is that a promise? Guys, put him in our car. We’ll take him back to the station for you while you handle the impound.”

Oh, he didn’t like that one bit!

“Impound? You can’t impound my car! I’m legally parked!”

So much for not saying another word!

“It’s a recovered stolen vehicle. We have to impound it for the Auto detectives. After that, it’ll be released to the registered owner.”

“It’s my fucking car, bitch!”

“Right now, it’s the city’s. After that, it’s your ex-girlfriend’s. Let that be a lesson to you: don’t register the car in her name unless you’re sure you’ll be together forever. Otherwise, shit like this happens.”

And away he goes, kicking and screaming! God, do we have to listen to his bullshit all the way back to the station? They really need to rescind that regulation against gagging prisoners. Especially these fucking soy boys! Sergeant Gellar said everybody screamed bloody murder when they passed it, but we’ve been stuck with it ever since. It fucking sucks!

Police Headquarters. Records and Identification Division. We’re here with that idiot arrestee, trying to find out who he is. True to his word, he wouldn’t tell us his name and he didn’t have a shred of ID on him. Remind me to ask for an additional charge of driving without a license in his possession. So how did we get stuck with this asshole? Because he’s such a fucking soy boy that we had to get him out of the station before Lieutenant Hagan killed him! And believe me, it was damned close! Lieutenant Hagan was actually asking if anyone had a blackjack on them and no, he wasn’t kidding! He was ready to beat the guy to death! For a little shithead who swore to remain silent, this guy hasn’t shut up since we got him back to the station!

As I’m sure you all know from having followed my exploits since I got to Central Division, Records and Identification, or R&I as it’s known, handles all matters pertaining to fingerprint files. If this guy’s got a record, a check of his fingerprints should tell us who he is. We can also identify him if he’s been fingerprinted for any licenses or if he was ever in the military, but those take a lot longer. Since he’s such an asshole, I’m guessing he’s been arrested at least once in his life before tonight. Probably at some tree-hugger protest or as a wanna-be member of ANTIFA or something like that. I’m guessing he’s never done any time, though. A guy like this wouldn’t live long enough to eat his first meal. The other convicts would kill him before then. We had to threaten to throw him in the felony big tank just to get him to let us take his fingerprints. The desk sergeant slamming a nightstick on the table helped a lot, too. I’m telling you, this guy pisses off everybody he sees! It’s a wonder he’s still alive!

And here comes the technician waving a card. Hooray! They found out who he is. I’m curious to see what his record looks like. I’d turn a cartwheel right here in the hall if they discovered he had a felony warrant.

“Officers, I’m Frank Monroe. I’m the Nightwatch fingerprint tech. Here’s your guy. You were right: he’s got a record. Not much, but he’s been arrested twice.”

Let’s see who the winner is. Dane Harmon Dupree. Arrested for disturbing the peace two years ago and battery a year later. Yeah, I can believe it. And if he was convicted of battery, then he’s on probation. Unfortunately, this printout doesn’t say if he was convicted. Too bad. I’d ask for a probation violation if we could be sure. Who knows? He might actually have to do the time that was suspended. Hey, I can still hope.

“Dane Harmon Dupree! It seems you’ve got a record.”

And now he’s all disappointed because we found out his name. Gee, what a shame!

“So what? I still didn’t do anything wrong! You had no right to arrest me!”

“I think we explained that one already. You really need to patch things up with your girlfriend. Harper, call the station and tell them who our arrestee is. And tell Ruiz and Rosen to get over here and take charge of this! How long does it take to complete an impound report anyway?”

“I’ll tell them to light a fire under it. I’ll be right back.”

Yeah, giggling all the way! He knows this guy makes me want to scream, and for some reason, he thinks that’s funny! Prepare for a punch in the balls when we get out of here, mister!

“As for you, Dane? The jailers will be up here in a minute to take you to a cell. Just sit tight. This won’t take long.”

Not that he can go anywhere. He’s chained to the bench. I wonder when it’s going to sink in that this is some serious shit and he’s in big trouble? If his ex-girlfriend pushes this thing, he’ll be facing a felony charge. That’s no chickenshit battery charge, and that prior arrest on his record could make things pretty ugly for him. He could do eighteen months of real time and end up on parole. Good God! Imagine if he got assigned to Officer Woodward! He’d shit twice and die on the spot!

Hang on! Red alert! I see Harper talking to Nick! He’s a friend of Goren’s and he works here at headquarters. They share a passion for computer shit. He’s also a total gearhead, just like Harper. He does a thriving business buying and selling parts for old muscle cars like that Super Bee of his. I need to shut this down code three! Nate’s a good salesman and Harper’s got a weak spot for that crap. He’ll end up buying a new engine for that thing that costs more than a new car! Remember that engine the guys were all ogling that cost forty-five grand? Yeah, Nick can get you one and have it delivered right to your door for the right price. Not in this or any universe known to man or God, Harper!

“You two had better not be closing a deal for any car parts! Harper! You’re not buying anything!”

“Relax, Dani. This is job-related. Nick’s working the audio-visual lab. You won’t believe what he’s been working on.”

I hope he’s not going to tell me it involves some smoking hot blonde girl dressed as a cheerleader who fucks the head coach. No, Nick wouldn’t be that stupid. And yes, ever since the advent of the internet, there’ve been dozens of cops and civilians who’ve been investigated for watching porn on department computers. Don’t ask me how they could be so stupid.

“All right, I’ll bite: what’s he been working on?”

“The unedited body camera footage from the Woodlawn shooting. He says we can see it if we want.”

Seriously? I thought that video was still top secret. But if he’s going to let us take a look at it, then I’m not going to pass up the chance. I’ve been dying to see it. I want to know if there’s anything there that would cause a problem.

“Hel, yes, I want to see it! Lead the way!”

This can’t possibly be authorized. He’s doing us a favor and he could get in big trouble if anyone finds out. But it’s late and this floor is practically deserted, so we should be able to watch it without anybody knowing about it. There’s the AV lab. You know, I don’t think I’ve ever been in there. Most officers don’t have any reason to visit the place.

So what have we got in here? Lots of computers and what looks like old VCRs. That figures. Since there’s only one computer that looks like it’s turned on, I’m guessing that’s Nick’s station.

“Nick, are you going to get in trouble for showing us this?”

“To tell you the truth, I’ve been afraid because almost nobody’s seen this shit yet. I don’t know why they’re sitting on it. We got an order from some Deputy Chief to say nothing about it. Do you know how many times we’ve had an order come down from a Deputy Chief? Zero, unless you count that one. This whole thing is creeping a lot of us out. You’d think we were working on the original Zapruder film.”

“The what?”

“The home movie of the Kennedy assassination. Don’t tell me you never heard of it.”

Hey, I’m not the history buff! That’s Harper’s department. All right, let’s see this thing. There were two officers, but they were both facing the suspect the entire time, so one camera shouldn’t have captured anything that the other one didn’t.

“This is from Officer Hunt. He was the driver officer.”

And that’s him getting out of the car. There’s the suspect, standing on the sidewalk. Damn, he really is big! He’s got some serious muscles on him! I don’t see a knife, though. He’s definitely got a cellphone in his right hand, but he’s not talking on it. He looks like he’s talking to himself. More like arguing with himself, actually.

“Hey, buddy! Can I talk to you for a minute? We got a call about somebody causing a disturbance.”

Nice and low-key. No problems there. Hang on! The suspect’s turning on them and he’s bringing his fists up! He looks pretty mean!

“Come on, dude! Don’t be that way! Just stand down! We only want to talk to you, I promise! What’s going on? Is there a problem here? We can check it out if there is.”

Keeping it low-key, trying to prevent an escalation. Exactly what he’s supposed to do. I can hear his partner on the radio in the background. He says they found the suspect and they’re requesting an additional unit to respond. Smart. That guy looks like he could wrestle a bear and win. The suspect’s not putting his hands down. He’s definitely in a fighting stance.”

“Sir! We don’t want any trouble! Just take it easy!”

“Fuck easy! Fuck that shit! You want a piece of me? You got what it takes?”

Challenging the officers to fight. Just like they said in their report. And that guy looks like a serious challenge to me! He’s moving his head from side to side. He’s sizing up the officers. Yeah, this guy is definitely looking for a fight! The passenger officer is on the radio again, upping the request to a backup. Exactly what he should do in that situation.

“Sir! Nobody wants to fight! We’re not going to fight you! We just want to know what’s going on! Just take it easy! We can work this out!”

“Fucking kill me! I want you to kill me! Come on! Kill me! Kill me!”

He’s coming after them! Fuck! That guy’s in a total rage! Is he dusted? Under the influence of some other drug? He clearly means to attack!

“Sir! Stand back! Stand back or you will be Tased! Stop where you are! I’m warning you! You’re going to be Tased!”

“Kill me! Fucking kill me! Kill me!”

“Taser! Taser! Taser!”

There goes the Taser! He’s hit! Square in the chest! He’s feeling it, but he’s not going down! And there he goes! He ripped the darts right out! Christ, now he’s really pissed! Where the hell is their backup? Where are the other units? Oh, shit! There’s the knife! He had it behind his back! Jesus Christ! Look at the size of that thing! And that shaking in the video is Officer Hunt drawing his gun!

“Stop! Drop the knife! Drop the knife! Do it! Drop the fucking knife!”

“Drop the knife! Sir, please! Drop the knife!”

“We don’t want to hurt you! Drop the knife!”

“Drop it! Put it down! Sir, please! Don’t do this! Drop the knife!”

He’s still coming! He’s almost on top of them! They’re backing up! This guy is a fucking psycho! Drop the knife, you idiot! You’re going to get yourself shot!

“You’re gonna die! Both of you! Kill me! Kill me, motherfucker! I’m gonna kill you both! Let’s see what you got! Come on!”

“Drop the knife! Drop it!”

“Drop the fucking knife!”

“You’re going to get shot! Drop the fucking knife!”

There goes the officer needs help call! I can hear Delmonico putting it out in the background! It looks like Hunt nearly lost his footing. He backed into something. I guess the stories were true: they were running out of room to back up.

“Kill me! I said kill me! Fucking shoot me! Shoot me! I want you to shoot me! Do it! Do it! Do it!”

Christ, he’s right on top of you! He can lunge from there and kill you! He’s charging! He’s charging at them! Open fire! Shoot! He’ll kill you! Fuck! There go the shots! A lot of them! He’s hit! He’s spinning around, but he’s still on his feet! He’s still got the knife! More shots! Now he’s down! He’s down and he’s not moving! He’s still holding the knife! Don’t approach! Wait for your backup! He might get up again! Holy shit! Those guys are lucky to be alive! He couldn’t have been more than five feet away when they opened fire! One more step and he would’ve shoved that knife right in your chest!

“Cease fire! Cease fire! Fuck! Why? Why did you do that? What the fuck were you thinking? We said drop the fucking knife! Why? Why did you do that?”

“Ease down, partner! Holster up and call it in! I’ll cover him! We need EMS! God damn it! He was out of his fucking mind!”

“Why? Why did you make us do that? Fuck! Why did you make us do that? Why didn’t you…why? Why didn’t you drop it? Fuck! We didn’t want to do that! Why did you make us do that?”

“He gave us no choice! Pat! He gave us no choice! We had to do it! He would’ve killed us! We gave him every chance! We had to do it!”

“Fuck! Thirty-Nine Woodlawn to dispatch, we need EMS and a supervisor at our location code three! Suspect down, multiple gunshot wounds! Get us units for a crime scene! Officers are accounted for, no injuries. Partner, secure that knife! Is he breathing? Get the…get the first-aid kit!”

“He’s gone, Pat. He’s history. It’s a fatal. Fuck! Son of a bitch! Why the fuck didn’t you drop it? This didn’t have to happen like this! Why did you do that? Why?”

And Nick stops the video. Why not? What more is there to see? Jesus Christ! I figured it was a good shooting, but that was practically a textbook case! They did everything right! What the fuck was wrong with that guy? Did you hear those officers? They’re practically traumatized because they had to shoot him! I’ve seen that before, but you never hear about it from the idiot fringe! Do you want to know what it feels like to be a cop and have to shoot somebody? There you go! In living color! Christ, they should show that video in the academy for the recruits! That was as clean a shooting as you’re ever likely to find!

“That’s it, guys. Officer Delmonico’s camera shows exactly the same thing, just from the right side instead of the left. I’m not a police officer, but I’d say that was a good shoot. That knife had a nine-inch blade with saw teeth on the back. Word around here is, it would’ve sliced right through their vests. And you saw how the Taser failed. He just ripped the darts right out of his chest and kept coming.”

“Do they know what set the guy off?”

“Robbery-Homicide said the guy’s family told them he wasn’t taking his medication. Without it, they said he gets violent sometimes. They don’t know where he got the knife. He’d been throwing things at a parked car and causing a scene, and that’s when the call went out: 415 man. Yeah, I’d say he was 415! He was 5150, too!”

5150 is the state’s health code designation for a dangerous mental patient, in case I never mentioned that. And after seeing that video, I have to agree: that guy was out of his mind. Those officers did what they had to do. So what the fuck is all of this bullshit controversy about? Why isn’t the department putting this shit out there? Most people would see that shit and this whole situation would diffuse in a heartbeat!

“It looked like Officer Hunt almost fell down right before they opened fire.”

“He nearly tripped over the concrete thing in the parking space. There was a wooden wall about eight feet high right behind it. That was as far as they could’ve gone back. Another few steps and they’d have been pressed up against the wall. You saw how the guy moved to the left when the officers confronted him? Some people around here are saying he was deliberately trying to corral them into that space so they couldn’t get away. If he was, it worked.”

I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who’s in total disbelief. Harper looks like he’s about to have a meltdown!

“Nick, why are they sitting on this? One look at that video would turn public opinion in our favor! What’s the holdup?”

“Search me. The policy is immediate release, so we were told to get the relevant portions ready for public distribution. I’ve seen the whole thing, right up to the time when the officers are taken away from the scene. There’s nothing on it that’s problematic. At most, there’s some rough language, but that’s it. One of the responding officers made a crack about mental patients, but it wasn’t a big deal. Nothing to get fired up about, anyway. Besides, it wasn’t one of the officers who shot the guy. No racial slurs, no taunts, nothing that would’ve escalated the situation. I don’t know why they’re not releasing it. I just know the order came straight from the Chief of Police. Not from his office, but straight from him. For whatever reason, he doesn’t want it out there. Don’t ask me why. If I were him, I’d have put this out the very next morning. I think it exonerates both officers. Now, I’m not a cop…”

You don’t need to be a police officer to see that was a totally justified shooting. They had a maniac charging at them with a knife big enough to impale the both of them at once. He was maybe five feet away and running. That one has reasonable and necessary written all over it!

“What’s the chief afraid of?”

“I don’t know. He’s not saying. Maybe he’s afraid it’ll wind up on YouTube?

Yeah, like that won’t happen anyway! What the fuck? Is he that worried about his reputation? I know he said he wanted to make positive changes when he was sworn in, but what the fuck is the point of concealing this? Release the goddamned videos! All of them! Not a few choice edits, but the whole damned thing! There’s nothing on that video that incriminates either officer! On the contrary! It totally exonerates them both! The chief should be proud of those guys! That was as professional as it gets!

“Do you know of anything that could be a problem with this shooting? Anything at all?”

“Well, there’s a rumor going around that at least one officer at the scene sent an off-color message about the suspect after the incident, but it wasn’t like the guy called him a nigger or anything like that. I heard it was something like “the psycho was as big as a gorilla” or something like that. But it didn’t come from the officers who fired the shots. They didn’t send any messages. Not even one for the whole shift.”

And if that’s true, then at most, it’s an internal disciplinary matter against the officer who sent it. Slap the offending officer with a five-day suspension for misuse of a department computer messaging system. That’s pretty standard. Actually, it’s on the harsh side of standard. But having people screaming about it being a bad shooting and racially motivated? Bullshit! There was nothing on that video that had a hint of racism or excessive force! What would you do if some maniac charged you with a knife like that? He obviously wasn’t listening to reason!

“Harper, you’re the tactical expert in the family. What do you think?”

“I think it was a good shooting from start to finish. It always looks bad to the layman when we shoot someone armed with a knife, but laymen don’t understand how dangerous those things are. Within twenty-one feet, a determined assailant can cover the ground and stab the officer before he can react and fire an aimed shot. And that guy was a hell of a lot closer than twenty-one feet. Another step and he’d have been about twenty-one inches away from them.”

A fact that they hammer into you at the academy in your tactics training. Every cop in the world knows it.

“I’d say that guy was pretty determined.”

“He was more than determined. Dani, it was a suicide by cop. You heard him. He was screaming at them to kill him. He said if they didn’t kill him, then he was going to kill both of them. What else could they do? The Taser didn’t work. The suspect was too close. They did what they had to do.”

Unfortunately, it seems some of our leaders don’t see it that way. Or they do, but they’re afraid of the people who don’t.

“What do we do now? Should we tell anyone?”

“What for? The department brass knows what’s on that video. They’ve seen it. There’s nothing we can do about it.”

As usual, he’s right. What difference does it make if we tell the people back at the station what we saw? The department brass already knows everything. If they’re not going to act on it, then what difference does it make how many lower-echelon people know about it? They can’t force the command staff to do anything about it any more than we can.

“All right. Thanks for the preview, Nick. If anyone asks, we were never here. Come on, Harper. We need to get back in the field.”

At least we know for sure what happened out there. The guy had a knife and he was pissed off and crazy and threatening to kill the officers. He charged at them and they had nowhere to go, so they opened fire and they killed him. It sucks, but that’s how these things go down sometimes. We all hate it, but it’s not something we can always avoid. Jesus Christ! This should’ve been over and done with already! It was a clean shooting; unfortunate, but clean. The officers used reasonable and necessary force to defend themselves from a lethal attack. End of story. Only in this case, it’s not the end. In fact, it might only be the beginning.

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