Officer Alex contemplates a tragic death and an inevitable reaction
Hours had passed since the sun cast even a hint of pinkish light across the East Chattanooga sky. We aren’t moving a muscle and we’re sweating. Summertime in the ‘Noog at its finest.
I lifted a hand to facilitate the smoking process and the half inch of ash that had accumulated at the end of the cancer stick underscored the length of time we’d stood there as if on “pause,” staring transfixed over the crime scene we’d been working.
There was brass all over the street to accent the blood in various pools and it didn’t all match the type that was still sifting out of the recently christened corpse on the liquor store parking lot, and investigators were already there working the event backwards to trace it to its source.
A standard procedure, but on occasion it takes longer to wrap your brain around a large scale crime scene than it does to perform investigative time travel, and since some of the shell casings on the scene were our own this was definitely one of “those” kind of scenes.
The shit had gone down here in truly spectacular fashion, I thought to myself, when a long overdue breeze knocked the ash from its perch, and I flipped the remaining cigarette into a nearby storm drain like any good a-hole would without a thought.
While there was still a trace of light in the sky, a few of my co-workers had interrupted a fight on the street called in by passersby who also reported seeing a gun. (They were right.)
In the process of stopping an altercation we didn’t start, rather than shooting at one another as they had originally intended (or at least considered—I mean, they’d packed everything but a lunch for such an event) they ran and decided to shoot at us, instead.
Now we’re not trigger happy folks by any means, but we are trained folks and that really comes into play at times like these. All that said, though? That’s not what I’m really talking about this week; the crime itself, I mean.
When I was talking about drinking in the crime scene, you may have thought it was to perhaps accommodate the spiritual enormity of a life wasted and a family in mourning. Of what sequence of events lead our young gunslinger to his current final chapter. Of the senseless tragedy of the thing. And to an extent you’d be right—but what I (we) were really thinking of was how we as individuals and as a profession were going to be blamed for what happened tonight, and at least to us that made less sense than this death itself.
The man with the gun who was the subject of a fellow citizens 911 call was the one going cold on the sidewalk, as opposed to the cop who swore an oath to protect people from guys like these (and by “these” I mean “criminals” of course).
But what was probably going to be said? It would be said that this man was executed by police officers “because of their fascist policies and history of abuse.” That the young man died because he was scared of police, and that is their fault, and his choice to bear a firearm in an argument in a street with a rival gang member and then to later shoot at cops for breaking such up was irrelevant.
But if it has been an officer down instead? Well, when police officers are killed…it’s also “because of their fascist policies and history of abuse” that actually puts them at fault for their own deaths. Even the President hints at this during police memorials, right?
We’re going to have to stop reading from an activist-penned script one of these days and actually address the problem, my fellow Americans, or we’re going to run out of young men or run out of cops, and neither of those are happy endings to these particular stories.
I was about to finally leave the scene when I pulled out another smoke, stared at it a second…then crumpled it up and the whole pack along with it. It was a habit that needed to be broken.
Let’s crumple up that script next, and for the same reasons. Deal?
When officer Alexander D. Teach is not patrolling our fair city on the heels of the criminal element, he spends his spare time volunteering for the Boehm Birth Defects Center.