Sunday, July 24, 2011

Fight Club

One of my most memorable calls occurred a few years ago in July.  It was a hot humid night (by hot I mean at midnight it was still 100 degrees).  I was already tired of sweating for the day because my shift started at 5:00PM, but as cruel as Mother Nature and fate are, I was going to be standing outside for several more hours.

I was dispatched primary officer to a call in my beat.  It came out as a family fight (domestic violence) call of a man and a woman arguing with stuff being thrown around the apartment.  I zipped on over to this little jewel of an apartment complex (sarcasm).  It’s a dumpy little pair of 4 plexes in the north central end of my beat.  I pull up and parked outside the complex so I can sneak in to see what’s up.  I had kind of a funky feeling so I pulled my car half up the curb and blocked the sidewalk and turned my rear red and blue lights so other units including the air unit could find me quick if things went south.   As I approach the building that the dispatched unit is located in I heard screaming.  I noticed the apartment is on the second story so I tip toed my 215 lbs up the rickety dilapidated stairway.  As I get to the top I give them a little bounce just to test it in case I have to fight someone on the stairway.  Well, I notice the railing is weak and would not support me.  Note to self, “don’t fight on the porch or stairway”. 

I make it to the landing at the top of the stairs and just as I do it sounds like a man and woman are screaming like the world is ending.  All of a sudden a can of frozen concentrate juice (Welches grape flavor) comes flying though the already broken plate glass window.  Now I need to explain that in a situation like this where it is believed to be a domestic violence situation our policy is to dispatch two officers and not make contact without your backup in a violent situation unless it is necessary to save a life.  So just as the juice can hits the ground on the porch I see that Nick, my back up, is pulling into the drive way of the complex.  He is about 40 feet away “close enough” my mind clicks I draw my duty weapon and point it towards the door and yell loudly, “Police, open the door NOW and come out with your hands up!”  The response I got was “F-you, I am GOD!”  I thought to myself, “Well, that is not what I expected for a response, the F-you part was normal but the God complex, this is new, this could be interesting”.  By this time Nick is next to me asking me what he said.  He heard it but was as surprised by it as I was.  I yelled back “Be that as it may, you need to come out NOW with your hands up”.  He responded “Your not the police, I created the police, I AM GOD!” and something came flying though the window.  Nick got on the radio and 10-3’d the channel by saying “Yeah, uh.. We got a 918 guy here going.. Ah… 918 all over the place.”  918 was our radio code for a crazy person.  Ten-three on the channel means the channel is secure for our traffic on that call only.  All other normal traffic goes to another channel for routine traffic like lower priority calls etc.  (We later switched to an “event” channel once things stabilized a bit that gives the channel back to the officers of the district for so they are not crowded up on the other channel.) When the channel is 10-3 it is generally considered to be the same thing as a “913” which means get me some back up code 3 (Lights and sirens).  So now I can hear sirens in the distance heading our way.  Part of it is nobody likes to leave their buddies in a dangerous situation and part of it is nobody wants to miss out on the fun.  Clearly, we must be having more fun than them, our call got the hot tone BEEEEEEEEEP.  Either way, lots of units will show up to join in. 

Nick and I positioned ourselves on each side of the window.  More stuff came flying through the window at us.  Nick covered me using his gun as I used my collapsible baton to lift the mini blinds to see inside.  The male subject kept pacing back and forth in and out of sight.  I told Nick to step back.  I used my baton to break down the rest of the glass and the mini blinds so we could see what was going on.  I am yelling commands for him to come to me with his hands up.  I am asking if there is anyone else in the apartment.   I am getting unintelligible blabber from the subject inside.  At one point he is standing in front of the fridge drinking milk “trailer parkin it” (drinking from the jug).  I’m trying to calm him down and he winds up and throws the gallon jug at us.  I duck back behind the wall and Nick takes off running like a school girl, like the guy just threw a fragmentation grenade at us.  I bust up laughing at Nick and he realizes how silly his actions just were so we are both cracking up as two more officer come running up the stairway wondering what was so funny.  All of a sudden dude comes back out from the hallway, naked (of course) yelling and screaming and throwing more food and stuff at us.  I’m thinking great, “here we go again.  Next he is trying to get us to shoot him.”  It seems to be the common theme when dudes get naked they try to get us to shoot them.  I don’t know what it is about naked dudes but it never fails. After a few minutes he came out of the back room with a huge carving knife with an 11 inch blade and yelled how he was God and he was going to end the world on September 4th he was screaming at us to shoot him.  In my mind I’m saying “wow, how original, you want us to shoot you”.  But I kept talking to him calmly.  At some point he threw the knife at the offices on the balcony across the way.   He missed because the knife hit the railing and deflected another direction.  Well that changes things from being crazy breaking your own stuff to aggravated assault.  By this time the crisis team from the mental health hospital had arrived and the one at the top of the stairs with me just about pooped his pants as the knife went flying by our heads.  Up the that point he had been telling me that they did not have enough information to do the committal paper work.  Well he ran down the stairs and said they were going to fill it out, which they did.  He later told me they never get to see the actual acts of people freaking out because they normally get called after we have the people tased and handcuffed.  But the subjects’ sister had called them before we did.  He thought it was “Awesome”. 

After a few more hours the SWAT team had to go in and get him to get the mental help he needed.  Plus they got to use four canisters of tear gas.  Four Flash bangs (stun grenades) and two stinger grenades and tasered him three times before he was taken into custody.  I went and saw him at the hospital after it was all over.  I asked him how he was doing.  He was clearly medicated.  In a calm very subdued voice and with a slight grin, “I’m doing pretty good, how are you?”  I smiled and said, “I’m good, and you look much better than the last time I saw you.”  He laid his head back down “I’m feeling pretty good right now”. Then he closed his eyes and I went to the hospital cafeteria to get eat my lunch at 0500 AM (12 hours into my shift 10 hour shift)

Because I was primary I “owned” the call so I had to document everything that had been done over the last seven hours and what was done with the subject.  In the end it was him alone in the apartment and he was just kicking his own a$$.  It was an amazing sight to see him argue with himself then fight himself.  I guess that’s what happens when you have meth, weed and booze in your system.    There was a lot to detail since the city had deployed lots of resources and there was a lot of property damage.  I wrote the report until 10:00 AM

I have seen the subject on several different occasions and when he is on his meds (Doctor prescribed not self prescribed) he is pleasant and calm.  On a later occasion he told me that he was having a “spiritual experience and did not know how to handle it”.  I told him I thought it was a drug induced psychosis; his response was “well, yeah, it was that too.”  The problem with this kid is when he uses street drugs he gets violent and acts out and it gets labeled as having “mental problems” but in reality it is a drug and alcohol and mental illness problem.  When he gets off his meds and “self medicates” that when things go wrong.  Regardless, it made for a memorable night.

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