Friday, March 16, 2007


I have mentioned in earlier posts that I have been involved in a few noteworthy incidents. I would like to tell you about an incident that occurred early in 2006 while working in Rancho Cordova. I must preface that a call like the one I am about to describe does not occur every day; in fact officers can go their whole career without being involved in something like this. I will warn you that this may be a bit graphic for some.

It was a little after 2:00AM and there was not much going on in Rancho Cordova. A two man unit was dispatched to a call of an assault in progress at a local apartment. The call said that a neighbor could hear 2 to 3 people fighting and a female yelling for help. I was in the area and asked to be placed on the call. Apparently, there was another unit close as well and asked to be put on the call. (Mind you, it is not common for four officers to be on a call, but I sure was glad that there were four of us there later)

We all arrived at the apartment complex at about the same time. We parked along the south side of the apartments. As a precaution, I decided to grab my taser out of the car and put it on. (The taser is a great tool, but it tends to be a bit bulky to wear all of the time) None of us knew exactly where the apartment was in the complex, so we started walking northbound along the side of the complex.

As we were walking, we got an update that there was a related call that came in that indicated that somebody had possibly been stabbed in the apartment and that there was blood on the ground. Now, this does not necessarily alarm us yet, as we have all been to calls of “someone stabbed” and seen baby daddy stuck with a fork. We still had no idea of what was yet to come.

As we walked along the apartment complex, we observed a black female a couple of buildings away. She was waving to us in a non-chalant manner saying, “Over here….” (Again, we didn’t rush over because our internal intensity meters were still on “low”) We walked up to the woman and immediately observed that she had blood running down both legs. (Intensity starts going up!) She points out a male victim that was lying along the top landing of the apartments’ outside stairs. The male was lying there motionless. (Intensity getting up there)

Immediately after seeing the victim on the stair landing, we observed a black male come out of the top left apartment. He had two kitchen knives in his hand. (Intensity peaking) One of us threw the female victim to a safe location, then we all drew our handguns and placed the male suspect at gunpoint. We were all yelling, “Put down the knives! Put down the knives!”

The male leaned over the male victim on the landing, turned his head towards us, looked at us with a blank stare, and then started stabbing the victim on the landing. (Intensity has now gone off the scale!)

One of my partners and I were at the base of the stairs, pointing our guns at the suspect up and to the left. My partner was to my left. My other two partners were behind us. I remember that it took us a second for all of it to sink in. I know that I could not believe what I was seeing. The word “Surreal” is the best word I can think of to describe it. You should note that law enforcement is typically a “reactionary” entity. 98% of the time, we arrive on scene and the suspect has usually left the scene, or has at least stopped whatever crime he was committing. We, typically, are there to take the offender to jail, write the reports of what happened, and then forward that report to detectives to investigate.

The suspect stopped stabbing the victim and began a “sawing” motion with the knife near the victim’s neck. I said something to the effect of, “He’s cutting him.” We had no choice but to use deadly force to try to save the victim’s life. Almost simultaneously, my partner to the left of me and I began firing shots from our handguns. I fired four shots and my partner fired five. I remember seeing the suspect in the doorway, then all of the sudden, gone.

Not knowing if there were additional victims still in the apartment, we quickly decided we needed to follow the suspect into the apartment. We headed up the stairs, not knowing what to expect. As we got to the top of the stairs, we observed the suspect kneeling right inside the doorway of the apartment. He was leaning back on his legs and was still grasping the knives in his hands. (At this point, we still had justification to use lethal force again. If he had made any sort of movement towards us or the victim, we would have had to.)

We decided to step down the force and try to get the suspect to drop the knives by using a taser. I re-holstered my handgun and pulled my taser from its holster. I fired the taser at the suspect. The two taser darts hit the suspect and began to incapacitate the suspect. (The taser uses two small darts tethered with to the taser unit with very thin wire to administer a non-lethal dose of electricity to incapacitate a suspect). The taser did its job and incapacitated the suspect, although he did not drop the knives. It took four to five additional activations of the taser to finally make the suspect drop one of the knives. One of my partners ended up kicking the other knife from his other hand as he was incapacitated by the taser.

By this time, we could see that he had been hit by some of the rounds fired from our handguns. He was bleeding profusely and appeared to go unconscious as we finally secured him in handcuffs. We cleared the rest of the apartment without locating any additional victims or suspects. We advised dispatch to send in the fire department who had been staging nearby to enter the scene to tend to the victims’ and suspect’s injuries.

Fire arrived and tended to both victims and the suspect. The female at the bottom of the stairs was transported to the hospital with multiple punctures to her legs. The victim at the top of the stairs was pronounced deceased at the scene from injuries due to the numerous knife wounds and loss of blood. The suspect was pronounced deceased at the scene from two gunshot wounds.

I originally hesitated to describe this incident in this forum. There are times that law enforcement responds to incidents and deal with circumstances that the general public quite frankly does not want to know about. It can be different to read about an incident like this in the newspaper as opposed to reading it and knowing an officer that was involved.

I can tell you that I prepared myself early in my career that an incident such as this could force me to make the decision to take another person’s life in defense of another’s, or possibly my own. That preparation, along with the amazing support I have (see previous post), made it much easier to get through this incident without any issues. The way I see it, the suspect did not give us any other option, and we did what we had to do to save the victim’s life.

On March 8th, 2007, the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department awarded me with the “Silver Star” for outstanding performance and conspicuous bravery in the line of duty. My partner who also fired his handgun also received a “Silver Star”. My two other partners received a “Bronze Star” for outstanding performance and bravery in the line of duty. Although I do not do this job to see what awards I can win, it is nice to be acknowledged as a contributing member of the department. I would like to thank my wife, Tracy, my brother, Joel, and my mother for joining me on a very nice day for the awards ceremony.

I can never say enough about the department that I work for and the people that I work with. These are the things that keep me coming back to work every day.

Friday, February 2, 2007

The Law Enforcement Family

Being in Law Enforcement for the past seven years has given me a first hand appreciation of the "Family".

There are very few professions that require the worker to subject himself to the cream of society with the dangers that come with it, and be expected do so with a smile on his face. It takes a specific type of person to be able to do this for 30 years, and it takes a special family structure to maintain his sanity.

In what would be considered my "short" Law Enforcement career, I have been involved in several major incidents. When the time is right, I will describe some of them here. In each of these events, I knew in the back of my mind that I had an incredible amount of support to get through each of them.

My wife, Tracy, is the backbone of my support. I could not do what I do on a daily basis without her. She says that she often asked, "Arent you worried about your husband, working all night with all the crazies out there?" She has often told me that she sleeps soundly knowing that I have the training, experience, and drive to survive for the family, and that I will do everything in my power to come home every day. She has told me that if something unfortunate did happen to me, she knows that I am doing what I have been called to do. I enjoy what I do and I feel I do it well. Tracy... you have supported me from day one. I thank you and I Love You with all of my heart.

As a parent, I know that I would do anything to protect my kids from danger. It takes a strong parent to accept that their son goes out to find it. As others are running from threats, we are the ones running towards it, facing it head on. I know that my mother's heart skips a beat every time she wakes up to the morning news saying there was a major incident in Rancho Cordova. Every once in a while I will get a call in the morning with her saying, "I heard about what happened, and I just wanted to make sure you were OK." She has told me that she maintains by knowing only the details that she wants to know. I know that if I needed her support, I would get it in a heartbeat. Thank you mom.

My children are an incredible source of support. I see the pride in the faces of my 12 year old daughter Alex, 10 year old son Kyle, and 9 year old son Adam, when they see me in my uniform or driving my patrol car. I would like to think that them seeing me serve the community will drive them to be productive members of society. In fact, Adam has shown interest in following in my footsteps to become a deputy. I must be doing something right.

As introduced in my first post, my brother, Joel gives me a sounding board to voice anything, as long as it is in between my neice's nap times... lol. Thank you Joel for being there for me and being my best friend.

Finally, the last bit of "Family" that I have is the Law Enforcement family. I could fill a whole new post about this. People outside the profession rarely understand the community that encompasses it. I know that if I needed support, I would have ten members of the law enforcement community at my door without question.

I expect to retire a law enforcement officer as an old man. As I progress through my career, I know that I will count on my "Family" to share all of the good times and to support me through the tougher times. I appreciate each and every one of you.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Great Mocha Caper

I'm going to start this blog with a story that my family loves to hear.

I was working swing shift, which starts at 2:30 in the afternoon. It was during the holiday season and my brother, Joel, was with me as a ride along. The shift started pretty slow. I showed Joel the area I patrol for a while, then headed to the neighborhood Starbucks for my favorite coffee drink, a venti chocolate mocha with extra chocolate and whipped cream.

I parked the patrol car and we walked into the store. As we were walking in, I heard the dispatcher over my police radio, "54C5... 10-13, 10-20?" In english: my partner had just run a license plate and it came back as a stolen vehicle. I'm sure Joel thought there was something major going on because I stopped in my tracks. I forgot that he could not hear what I was hearing through my earpiece. My partner advised that the vehicle was unoccupied, in a parking lot a building away from us, and that he was going to watch it for a while to see if anybody got in it. We were clear to get our coffee.... for now.

We got up to the counter and ordered my venti chocolate mocha with extra chocolate and whipped cream, and an oatmeal cookie. Joel ordered his coffee, and we then waited for them at the designated "pick-up" counter. As we were waiting for our coffee, I turned to Joel and said, "uh oh". My partner had advised over the radio that there were suspects that had just got into the stolen car and that it was moving out of the parking lot.

I had a dilemma. Do I leave my venti chocolate mocha with extra chocolate and whipped cream to go chase a stolen car, or do I wait for my mocha and risk missing all of the fun? My dilemma ended when our coffees were miraculously placed on the designated "pick-up" counter. We grabbed our coffees and cookie, and I told Joel, "Let's go." We headed out of the store with a fast walk, and headed to my patrol car, trying not to spill any of my venti chocolate mocha with extra chocolate and whipped cream.

My partner advised that the stolen car had turned onto the street and was heading to pass right by us. As we were walking across the parking lot towards the patrol car, I hear over the radio in my earpiece, "Bittle, Bittle, Bittle... they are right there.... Bittle, Bittle, Bittle!!" I was in the middle of the parking lot with several cars. I had no idea which car he was talking about.

I pulled my service weapon and was looking around frantically, trying to figure out which car was the stolen one. I know Joel was a little concerned. Here was his brother, his Sig Sauer .40 caliber handgun in his right hand, and a venti chocolate mocha with extra chocolate and whipped cream and an oatmeal cookie in his left hand. Mind you, Joel still cannot hear anything that I am hearing in my ear. I think Joel took cover behind a nearby Volkswagen and watched the conclusion from there. I'm sure I was a sight to see.

I finally figured out which car my partner was talking about. I carefully put down my venti chocolate mocha with extra chocolate and whipped cream and oatmeal cookie on a parked car, then assisted my partners by detaining the suspects as they were exiting the car.

Scorecard: 2 supects in custody, 1 stolen car recovered, 1 unspilled venti chocolate mocha with extra chocolate and whipped cream, and 1 unmolested oatmeal cookie. My partners got a good laugh about it and have reminded me about this incident often.