September 30, 2008
We keep fighting, the five of us.
Scotty tries to curl into a ball to protect the gun deep in his chest. We try to pull him open so we can get the gun. The magazine, loaded with 13 rounds, has popped out and disappeared, but still there is a round in the chamber.
I hold on as tightly as I can. If I let go, he’ll be able to turn and shoot. I imagine him climbing off his mother, shaking off his father and the girlfriend’s uncle as though they were pesky bugs. I imagine him leveling the gun and firing. I imagine that single round going not into my chest because he knows we wear vests, but elsewhere. Neck. Head. Face. Femoral artery.
So I hang on to his back, my hands on that gun. At one point, he starts banging his head backward, trying to head butt me. I tuck down tighter so he can’t get to me.
And I hang on.
And I’ll go longer than that if I need to. If stalemate is the best I can do until help arrives, then that’s what I’ll do.
Then, almost magically, the gun squirts out. It clatters along the floor and I’m not sure anyone realizes what’s happened. A second later, the girlfriend’s uncle snatches the gun up and runs outside. I don’t know until half an hour later he locked the gun in his truck and then came back to keep fighting.
At that moment, I don’t care. At that moment, with the Glock 21 danger gone, I have a new focus. Now I have to fight him like I’ve been trained. Now I have to get him into cuffs.
But now he can fight back.
I immediately tag him with the OC spray. The entire can. It has no effect, unable to cut through the PCP and booze haze. At one point, Scotty plays at eating the gel, and laughing, while I spray him.
I use the baton. A three foot chunk of metal. Against soft tissue – thighs and biceps and ass. I hit and hit and still he fights.
I punch and punch and still he fights.
I twist and yank and kick and gouge and still he fights.
And then, quietly and anticlimactically, he stops.
He stares at me, his face stained orange from the OC spray.
“I’m done, Trey.”
In the months after, the cops all talk about it again, but now they’re angry and righteous.
Scotty has been offered a deal.
If he pleads guilty, he’ll only have to suck down seven years.
That’s it. Seven years for two counts of domestic battery, one count of disarming a peace officer, one count of aggravated battery of a peace officer, and one count of resisting.
He’s eligible for better than 20 years.
He’s offered seven.
I’d spent quite a few hours talking with the victim’s advocate. Not because I considered myself a victim, though the advocate did, but because she let me rant and rave as long as I needed. I ranted about everything. I questioned whether or not law enforcement was for me. I wondered how I could have handled the call better…a different approach to the house? A different response in the house? More hands on deck before I even get to the house? (This question burned me because my partner had specifically asked if I wanted help and I’d said no.) More force? Less force? I hollered on and on about his mother, who had driven him to the girlfriend’s house. I squealed like stuck pig about my radio not working.
But mostly I ranted about the defenses Scotty’s attorney kept throwing up.
The first was involuntary intoxication. In other words, he didn’t know the cigarettes he smoked had been doused with either PCP or formaldehyde. Problem with that was he’d been smoking marijuana cigarettes and if you’re illegally intoxicating yourself, then you can’t really argue someone did something illegal to you.
Then there was general intoxication. He was so drunk he didn’t know what he was doing. The problem is that drunk ain’t no defense. In fact, in front of the right judge, it can be aggravation rather than mitigation.
Then there was what I like to think of as the ‘Good Samaritan’ defense. What happened, see, was that the officer, see, dropped his gun, and I – Scotty – was simply helping him pick it back up. See? Of course, that doesn’t answer why he fought for twelve minutes, including four or five minutes after he dropped the gun. Doesn’t explain why he didn’t just drop the gun on the floor when he realized what was happening.
Then there was the final defense in which he said he was too mentally unstable to appreciate or understand his actions. The problem here is that this county’s judicial system has been dealing with him for better than ten years. He’s not crazy, he’s a fucking idiot, and everyone knows it. It’s why his mother works so hard to blame someone else. Also, this defense stumbled after Scotty answered fairly complex legal questions perfectly when asked by the judge.
Then it was time for trial, which he was prepared to face until I went back to a retirement home, more than a year after the incident, and talked to some witnesses.
“He was drunk,” they all said. “And he was threatening people.”
September 30, 2008
Before the former girlfriend’s parent’s house, there is the retirement home. The former girlfriend works there and an angry Scotty needs to talk to her. He walks in, though it’s supposed to be a secure facility. He demands to see her, though she’s already fled because he’s called a number of times earlier and said he was coming for her. He wanders the halls until just before the local police show up. When they arrive, he’s gone. A couple of hours later, he arrives at the former girlfriend’s house.
After I get him cuffed, he offers a few more kicks but they’re half-hearted. His mother is on me immediately, telling me he’s only drunk, not stoned. Telling me he doesn’t need jail, he needs help. Telling me he thought I was going to kill him.
When I ask her how she knows all this, because I’ve been with him since the fight started and she’s not talked to him at all, she withdraws and spends the rest of the night staring at me with daggers.
My partner arrives. He takes custody of Scotty. Scotty says, “Trey, don’t let him take me, he hates me.”
Later, my partner tells me my response is, “I don’t give a fuck.”
I don’t remember. I remember very little of the after. I remember standing in front of my sergeant, my hands shaking and trying not to throw up on his boots and asking him over and over where my gun was and him continually pointing out it was in my holster.
I remember yelling at him that Scotty should be dead.
I remember him pulling me away from the house and telling me to quit talking and just breathe.
I remember one of the officers on scene, who I don’t know, finding the knife. It was a four inch paring knife, partially broken, and not even in the kitchen. Scotty had never touched it while I was at the house.
In other words, Scotty had never had deadly force while I’d been with him.
I remember laughing hysterically over that fucking knife. Staring at this tiny, little, broken, dull knife and realizing I’d almost killed a man because of it.
One Year Later
Finally, it’s all over. It’s a closed case so now I can write about it.
Scotty took a deal for ten years rather than go to trial.
I’m good with that. Should have been longer but could have been shorter so I’ll take the split.
I was in Indianapolis when I heard, attending a writers’ convention. In fact, I was with an investigator for the Florida Department of Investigations, both of us being tourists at the Indianapolis Speedway when I got a text message about Scotty’s sentence.
He’ll be inside for four of the ten years, which means out in three since he’s already done a year in county.
Seems like not very much time for what he did to those people but what do I know, I’m not an attorney or a judge. But I can promise this: when he’s free, he’ll get stoned and drunk again and he’ll hurt someone.
He’s had twenty five years of listening to his mother tell him his troubles are someone else’s fault, usually law enforcement. He knows nothing else and so lives his life under that guiding principle: that whatever he does is okay because if it goes south, it ain’t his fault.
He’s escalating. Not like a serial killer, but like a repeat loser with zero prospects in life. Every time law enforcement deals with him, he’s slightly more violent. On the street or in custody, it doesn’t matter. More violent. More violent.
It will continue this way until he kills himself or until someone else – cop or victim – kills him.
The question is how many people will he kill before he’s done and will Mama still say it was someone else’s fault?