On Jan. 10 of this year (2012 for my luddite readers), something I found very interesting occurred: Someone pointed a gun at a cop and got shot in the neck for his trouble.
That’s not what caught my interest, mind you. My attention was focused on the fact that the cop wasn’t shot. What happened didn’t make me “happy”; what didn’t happen made me “happy,” Are you tracking? Let me explain.
Christopher Upshaw, 25, and his 22-year-old buddy, Javarres Williams, along with 20-year-old Jermichael Nicholson were allegedly committing a burglary at 4529 Hancock Road on an overcast Chattanooga morning when they were interrupted by a few of my co-workers. It’s believed that the home in question was also allegedly being used in the trafficking of drugs and money by competitors, hence Chris, Javarres and Jermichael’s interest. But all this alleging tends to bore me so I stick to what gets my attention first: The survival of a cop doing his job in spite of the criticism that is usually going to be forthcoming as a result; despite the idea that a Reasonable Civilization shouldn’t consider doing something so obnoxious.
I’m rehashing old news because just this last week, a similar scenario took place yet again in our fair city. On April 12, someone pointed a pistol at a cop, got shot for their trouble, and the cop didn’t get shot himself in the process.
Now, I’m normally much more sensitive to the public relations aspect of this career as anyone who knows me will tell you, but I have to make a confession about my job that may not necessarily be politically correct here: Despite years of being taught to the contrary by television, movies, and the Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, cops are most definitely not “supposed to be” shot. Like being spat upon, it is not a part of their jobs and they in fact hate it when it happens. So when they are shot, it makes me terribly unhappy. But when they’re not? “Boom.” It’s like a celebration. Make sense?
Officer Phillip Moser was doing his job: Responding to report of a burglary by a concerned neighbor. Bad guy emerges from the house, points a gun at the nice officer, and he walks away with a survivable wound from a .45 Hydrashock round. Moser walks away with some ringing-ass ears (let me tell you) and a shitload of anxiety over the armchair quarterbacks of the world because he did what he was trained to do.
On a cool Thursday night in April, the same scenario occurred at 1618 Gunbarrel Road at a medical office, of all places. A man trying not to get caught by police for something stupid elected to do so by foolishly brandishing a firearm at a cop. Lo and behold, we have another case of a flesh wound and some ringing-ass ears (that generally accompanies a shitload of self-doubt, don’t forget)—and Officer John Patterson walks away to fight crime another day.
I wrote this week’s column to salute the survival of these officers and to point out to the public that what’s not important is how “harmless” a little gambling is. If it were “safe,” the gamblers wouldn’t have been robbed on Rossville Boulevard in the past and they wouldn’t be carrying guns to play cards with tens of thousands of dollars. Do you think detractors will even make that connection?
Same as the drug house getting burglarized, criminal activity merits police inspection and the rest is dictated by how the offenders deal with the police doing so. You see, it’s not the cops’ fault those men got shot; it’s theirs. They pointed a gun and set the tone. Somehow, that fact seems to get lost—every time.
Despite being so simplistically correct (they point guns, cops shoot), the officer has to go home knowing that being “right” has nothing to do with being a white cop shooting a black 22-year-old. (Yes, I just wrote that.) Or that even with both the cop and suspect being white in the latter shooting, the cop has to wonder what’s going to come of shooting at a gambling operation with lawyers and doctors present. These are “money people” whose lawyers can make mincemeat of the truth … and here come the judgments.
It’s too much to think about and just another aspect of this job that can’t be won, so let’s keep it simple.
Two cops have walked away from these incidents at least physically unhurt, and that’s significant because as April 2, 2011, taught us so harshly, we know that doesn’t always happen. After all the armchair quarterbacking, self-doubt, and eventual exoneration, that really is all that matters.
Hang in there, guys. Thank God you’re still in the fight.
Alex Teach is a full-time police officer of nearly 20 years experience. The opinions expressed are his own. Follow him on Facebook at facebook.com/alex.teach.