Alex Teach Image
I pulled up on the parking lot of the Econo Lodge and I’ll be damned but if the guy the dispatcher described wasn’t just stumbling out of a first-floor room and entering the parking lot.
White male, shoulder-length brown hair, wearing an unbuttoned dark plaid shirt and jeans, with or without a very scared hooker. “Boom,” I said to myself. There was also mention he was armed with a black pistol.
Ah, “drugs.” He looked like he’d just finished watching a pit bull make it with a basketball (something I happen to know quite a bit about, actually) and the basketball handed it a $20 for its trouble. One eye was opened larger than the other and he wasn’t focusing on anything in front of him, but rather on a horrible image in his mind that he was still trying to process.
Oh, make no mistake—I wasn’t sure that’s what he’d seen (those kinds of hookers are actually difficult to find in this town), but that was “the look” all the same, and if I was 90 percent focused when I arrived on the scene, I edged it up to 100 percent when my left foot hit the ground from my now-open car door as I saw this.
“Show me your hands, sir, then let’s talk this out.” My gun came over the top of the door frame as I said these words. (It’s the second mouse that gets the cheese, after all, and I was NOT about to be the first mouse in this scenario.)
My words shook him from his fugue state. He looked up at me stupidly, and after a few seconds, he raised his hands over his head in compliance. “Good,” I thought, and as his shirt raised up to expose his midriff, by God, there was what appeared to be a black pistol in his waistband. (I was running at 125 percent now.)
“Hands up. Hands up, friend.” My eyes narrowed as I prepared to approach to close the distance; backup was a ways off (I love you, Brainerd) and I wasn’t looking to anger him (the “friend” bit was psychologically intentional), but I also wasn’t going to let him get the idea he could run while I stood behind a car door, leaving me wondering where the hell he was with a pistol…so moving toward him to take control it was. And before I took my first side-step around my car door, he said “Oh, is this about the gun? I’ll give it to you.”
“NO!” I yelled in the deepest voice I had. “Don’t touch it. Hands in the air. Do not move. Do NOT touch that gun.”
“It’s right here,” he said, and damn if he didn’t start to lower his hands to reach for it.
“STOP! Don’t move! Do NOT touch that gun!” I enunciated each word as if I were in a spelling bee. (150 percent now.)
“It’s OK, it’s right here, I’ll give it to you.” His hands continued to reach down, and now I started to apply pressure to the trigger.
“NO! DON’T TOUCH IT! DO NOT TOUCH THAT GUN!”
He just looked at me stupidly, head cocked to the side, and his left hand gripped the bottom of his untucked shirt to lift it higher as his right hand moved towards the gun…
The world around me ceased to exist beyond a four-foot perimeter of light around my customer; tunnel vision had kicked in, and all I saw in this universe was that man’s torso (HANDS!) and the sight posts of my duty weapon. The picture was changing though; I was confused until I realized I was seeing the hammer coming back, back, back…
The backdrop was good (no pedestrians, houses, nuns), the gun was clearly there, I had given multiple commands, and then of course there was his race (oh yes, I said it, because even black officers are racists when black suspects are shot, and you race-baiters out there can eat a specially prepared turd for causing cops to hesitate in life and death moments like these). The news broadcasts were running in my mind, and—OH, he’s finally reached the gun and is pulling it out of his waistline, here it goes, will I hear the shots, I wonder?
…And he drops it. Son of a bitch drops it.
The pistol clacks and skitters when it hits the pavement at his feet, and he again raises his hands about the time a second patrol car skids to a halt on the lot. It’s all over but the hyperventilation risk now.
Twelve seconds. That entire transaction took place in less than 12 seconds.
Life happens pretty quickly, you know? Ends that way, too, especially when you’re drunk and stupid. But not tonight.
(There’s a lesson in there, folks, but I won’t spoil it for you. Enjoy.)