Lots of crap lately about cops shooting people with/without cause. People who have never been there, keep telling everyone how it should happen. What you don’t hear about are the moments when a gun isn’t fired.
The first occurred while I was working on Hotel Street. There was a building fire with lots of people gawking and looking around.
One guy, for an unknown reason, caught my interest. I may have subconsciously spotted the way he carried his shoulders and that gave away the fact he was wearing a shoulder holster. If I remember, it was a Bianchi vertical “Dirty Harry” type holster.
I followed him around for a few minutes and he realized I was following him and tried to duck around a corner.
As I turned the corner his right hand was under his left arm, under the jacket. He was drawing the gun to ambush me.
In those days I was fast, very fast. In the moment it took me to understand what he was doing, he was stopped with his hand on the gun butt. I took a stand and made as smooth and fast a draw as I ever did.
But in the moment, his hand is frozen on the gun butt, his jacket is open and I can see the gun and holster, I am in a solid Weaver stance and the muzzle of my gun is centered on his chest, my finger is on my revolver’s trigger. This young man is 8 pounds away from dying. There is no way he can complete his draw before I fire. If he moves, I’ll shoot.
He turns a little and in the light I see the protruding ring cap I know is on a Crossman pellet revolver. I know it’s not a real gun. I take my finger off the trigger as he continues his draw, pulls the pellet gun from the holster throwing it into the alley beside him.
When the pellet gun cleared the holster, I could have fired and no one would have blamed me. It looked like a real gun. But because of the vest, I took an extra heartbeat, saw it wasn’t real, and didn’t have to shoot.
Turned out, he was trying to get rid of it before I stopped him. He almost got stopped permanently.
The second incident was only a few weeks later. On south King, just Ewa of the entry to Straub, was a skating rink,a roller skating rink. Roller/Disco skating was making a big come back.
Across the street were a little drive-in restaurant and an empty lot.
These had been some kind of altercation inside that had spilled into the street and parking lot. Units were dispatched to the scene until things could calm down.
Much the same sequence. One guy, with a coat walking around talking to no one, caught my attention. Watching him I caught the big telltale print in the small of his back. Really a poor place to carry a weapon unless you know what you’re doing. But it looks really cool in the movies.
I had just called for back-up when I realize he’s trying to avoid me and keeps looking at me as he walks toward a vehicle. Again, I see his hand go under the jacket and time stops.
My gun clears the holster, I have a good 2 handed Weaver, barrel centered on his chest, finger on the trigger, a deep breath, and again I see the CO2 end cap on the gun butt, same type of pellet gun.
I do remember screaming “No” to this one. He stopped in mid draw, and just let it fall to the ground.
But as it did, he yanked open the driver’s side vehicle door, jumped in, in what appeared to be an attempt to run away.
It never occurred to me he might have a “real gun” in the car. I knew he’d dropped a pellet gun and was trying to get away.
I speed dropped my revolver back into the holster while running up to the car. He was putting the key in the ignition when I got an arm around his neck and dragged him out the driver’s side window.
My back-up pulled in the lot in time to see me drag this guy out of his car, through the driver’s window, by his neck. I then choked him out (and I mean out) threw him on the ground, and cuffed him.
When he came to, he started crying and saying it wasn’t real and he wasn’t going to shoot anyone.
I keep screaming at him because I was angry, because he almost made me kill him. I was a raving madman; I was so angry. He almost made me kill him, because he wanted to be a “tough guy”.
The funny end to both of these stories, neither guy was charged with anything.I could have easily killed either one, but didn’t. Back then, the 70’s, there were no laws against carrying a pellet gun like it were a real gun, so they walked.