By Mikey, Retired LAPD
It was 1993 and I was working Rampart morning watch patrol as a field supervisor. I had a lot of fun there. One particular shift at about 0100 in the morning an “officer needs help” call went out at 6th Street and Bixel. On the LAPD, calls go this way in order of severity: “Back up,” means ‘no need to rush but get there ASAP.’ An officer “Requesting assistance,” means ‘get here quicker than ASAP.’ “HELP,” yeah, send everyone and everything instantly, or sooner.
When I arrive at 6th and Bixel there is a suspect in custody, injured and an officer injured. The suspect claims that the officers hit him in the head with their flashlights. If the claim were true, it would be an out of policy use of force. The officers said that the suspect had been in an altercation prior to their arrival. When they discovered him bleeding from a head injury, he became combative and attacked one of the officers causing her injuries. I could find no witnesses and there were no surveillance cameras at or near the location.
The next night I went back to the location at about the same time to see if I could find any potential witnesses–someone who may have left to avoid involvement from the prior evenings incident. There, on a bus bench, I found a homeless man and his dog. Mike and his dog Queenie had been there the night before and had seen the incident. Mike said he had seen the suspect fighting with two other men and one of the men struck the suspect in the head with a long object. The suspect fell to the ground and the two men fled. Shortly after that the officers arrived. Mike said the man attacked the officer. He said the officers used physical force only. From his bus bench, his view was unobstructed with good lighting.
I bought Mike and Queenie breakfast, gave him my business card and completed a follow up report to the use of force. A week later, toward end of watch, 0800, I was called to the station where I found Mike sitting in the lobby. He had been crying and told me that he had been arrested for public intoxication and Queenie had been shipped off to the dog pound. The folks at the pound informed Mike that he needed $56.00 to bail out Queenie or no more Queenie. The pound was closed so I bought Mike some breakfast as we waited for the pound to open up.
We got there shortly after it had opened. To my surprise there were a lot of folks there, mainly gang-type folks. A vice unit had taken down a pit bull fighting ring and these folks were there to bail out their dogs.
I was still in uniform, so I had everybody’s attention as Mike and I made our way up to the counter. I informed the desk guy why Mike and I were there and that we had Queenie’s bail money. Mike was handed some paperwork and as he was filling out the information he asks me what address he should use. I told him to use the station’s address. About this time, I noticed several of the pit bull guys paying attention to what Mike and I were doing.
One of them asked, “Dude, are you helping him to get his dog?”
I said yes and I swear, the guy, dressed down like a gangster was holding back tears.
Now the attention was totally on us. “Dude that is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.”
Then the murmurs of approval began. I really hadn’t thought about what I was doing; only that Mike had come through for my officers and now he needed help. We got Queenie, gave and received some warm good byes and headed home.
Never saw the two again and I wonder what happened to them. As street coppers, we see and deal with the best and the worst of what the city has to offer. We compartmentalize events, good things and things we don’t want to remember but from time to time do. I’ve been retired 10 years now but once in a while I feel an emotion, before I remember the event.
Review Ed and Hal’s stories and mine. Our most pronounced memories are of our time in the field, on the streets in the cruiser, Ed’s “radio car.” Once the torch is passed that is all that is passed–not the memories.
Those are ours to keep, the good and the bad.