By Hal Collier
Did you ever have one of those incidents where one minute you were calm and actually got to finish a cup of coffee while it was still hot and the next minute is the exact opposite?
My night is going smoothly and I’m hoping to coast for a few more hours and then go home and enjoy my next three days off. We’d just put another bad guy in jail and finished our arrest report. The sun will be coming up in a few hours, my favorite time of the day. It’s about 4:00 a.m. as I drive out of the Hollywood Police Station parking lot. I turn north on Wilcox and head toward Hollywood Boulevard. The Boulevard has been deserted for at least an hour. The bars and clubs have closed, the drunks have found their cars and the predators of the weak have given up and gone home.
Or so I thought.
I just crossed Selma Avenue when I notice a strange light lying in the middle of Wilcox. I drive up to the light. It’s a metal flashlight. Just like the kind most cops use! In a millisecond chaos erupts.
A citizen drives up to us and asks me, “Are you looking for that cop who was in a fight?”
“What cop?” There goes that coasting to EOW (End of Watch)!
I ask the citizen, “Where did he go?”
He replies, “I don’t know, I lost sight of him when I turned around.”
Ok, I’ve got a lost cop who probably needs help. I pick up the police radio to broad cast “Officers needs help!”
Suddenly I hear a shot. Oh shit, this is turning real bad in a hurry. My heart has jumped into my throat and my mind is racing.
Now in the middle of a big city with lots of buildings, it’s often hard to tell from where a sound is coming. I’m guessing it’s from the street west of me. I speed around to the next street and turn south. I don’t see anything at first. I slow down and hear a voice yell, “Over here!”
There’s a cop sitting on the ground in a parking lot. He’s pointing to another individual lying on the ground in front of the Chesterfield Hotel. That individual has been shot! I get on my radio and soon the entire division has thrown out their coffee and joined us, including the Watch Commander. An ambulance responds and treats the individual for a gunshot wound and my cop for a contusion to his head.
Not only are we not going to coast to EOW but we’re not going to get off on time, and my three days off are going to be cut short by at least a day. It’s overtime but my pillow is going to miss me!
Here’s what happened: The cop was a Hollywood sergeant just driving down Hollywood Boulevard. He heard what he thought was glass breaking. He pulled to the curb to investigate.
A Drag Queen named, Otha, had just smashed the display window to Playmates, a famous Hollywood Boulevard lingerie shop. I guess he was doing a little early shopping. This was in the 70’s and the only police radio was in the car. If you were out of the car and needed help, you had to run back to the car radio or fight for your life. My sergeant confronted Otha and the fight was on. Otha gained control of the sergeant’s flashlight and hit the sergeant in the head. The sergeant was dazed but not about to give up the fight.
The two combatants ran westbound through the parking lot. Otha climbed over a four-foot chain link fence next to the Chesterfield Hotel. The sergeant was starting to feel the effects of the blow to his head. Fearing he might pass out and lose his weapon to Otha, the sergeant fired one shot. The bullet hit the chain link fence and split into two fragments. Both fragments hit Otha.
The sergeant survived, as well as Otha, except that Otha went to jail after being treated for two wounds from one gunshot. Me, I had trouble sleeping that day. I kept waking up, it sometimes takes a long time for the adrenalin to leave your body and let you coast.