Ironically it all begins at the end of a traffic stop. I was outside a vehicle that was being towed from my last day shift traffic stop in my assigned inner city district. The driver, who was angry, was cited and released for operating an (improper plate) unregistered and uninsured vehicle on a public road, a vehicle he stated he didn’t know who it belonged to or where it came from. The driver had a valid license and was clear LEIN and NCIC. The driver had peacefully left the scene on foot only to return just as I was preparing an impound vehicle inventory. The tow truck had not arrived yet.
The suspect driver was still angry and stated he would stop the impound as he opened the car door. The driver refused repeated verbal and visual commands to stop. I moved in between the suspect and the vehicle in order to prevent him from entering the vehicle. The suspect grabbed onto me and a struggle ensued as we landed on the hood of the car. I managed to produce my handcuffs and closed it on one of his hot sweaty wrist. The second proved harder as the fight continued. Suddenly out of the corner of my eye I thought I saw movement. I looked up and observed a large group of men, possibly 10-13 of them, running toward me yelling and waiving fists. Although I couldn’t understand them I knew it couldn’t be good. I used my lapel microphone to call for a garbled call for help. As a result I lost most of the control of the suspect I had won.
My cruiser sat silent and resolute just 2 car lengths away. I grabbed the suspect around the shoulders and worked our way backwards to the police car hoping to make it before the mob reached me. Within a few seconds I was surrounded on 3 sides with my back pressed against the cruisers driver’s side spot light. The suspect kicked and flailed his free elbow as the others began to hit me in the face and head with hands and fists. My legs burned from assailant side kick impacts.
I struggled to retain my weapon from what I perceived to be tugs and pulls on my duty belt but couldn’t see where or whom. Towering suspects in the back of the crowd appeared to cover me with hands hidden in their shirts or jackets acting as if holding concealed weapons – taunting for me to draw my weapon while the others in front attacked, unarmed. After a fierce exchange of blows with the crowd I began to lose my vision and dizziness began to numb my senses. I was losing control of my suspect and balance was fleeting. I realized that the outer edges of tunnel vision were robbing me of my sight and fear began to creep in. In desperation, I gave up my half cuffed prisoner in a failed attempt to escape. Simultaneously as a lucky elbow blow to my head knocked me backward and down to the street pavement. I felt no pain, only pressure from the kicking boots that landed against my face and head. I lifted myself with one hand in an attempt to continue to fight. I knew help will come, I cannot give up.
The last thing I remember before darkness took me is a muted laughter and the intense burning feeling of the rough pavement underneath my one skinned up knees and hand that feebly supported my body. I saw blood on my hands and tasted it in my mouth. I was unaware of the next kick to the head. Witnesses that watched entertained from their porches later stated my unconscious beating continued for a about 3 minutes or so before the first backup unit arrived. That was the extent of neighborhood support.
I regained consciousness with plain clothed officers hovering over me. Everything was attenuated and blurred as if shaken out of a deep sleep. I couldn’t hear well and I found it hard to focus my eyes. I looked down and there lay my handcuffs, a private message left by the mob it would seem. A staggering contradiction that would later shake the very foundation of truth in how we as police are conditioned and taught to think. (see The Staggering Contradiction, by Charles)
In the hospital, the concussion vexed my ability to clearly remember who I was. What I did manage to say made no sense. For example, I told them I was married, but in fact was not. My eyes and ears were beginning to swell shut. My heart rate raced at about 150 BPM for the next 24 hours, doctors unable to slow it down. The benefit of the numbness of shock was wearing off and pain took its place. The chaos and scramble of officers, nurses and doctors buzzed in and out like a bee hive asking questions I didn’t know. I felt I would suffocate and my chest was about to burst, I had to get out. It would take days for me to regain any clear sense of who I was and what had happened to me. Although I didn’t know it yet I would never be the same, not by my standard, certainly not the department or anyone else who knew me, including a fiance”.
This is only the beginning. Although the mechanism of the initial injury had ceased, the poison now had been released inside me yet to invade my mind and body. A seething infection that the department ignored, my friends avoided and my family couldn’t understand. There is more, much more, and I will finish it soon. I tell you this story so you know I speak through honest, personal experience and not just from education.
Although the story seems like it lasted a long time in reality it spanned only a couple of minutes.
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The path to freedom is paved with the courage to face our fear and acknowledge that it isn’t “us” that is or was the problem; it’s what happened to us. This is the first fundamental step toward our goal.