I began working for a large agency in a metro area in 1999. In May of 2008, I was working the day watch at our busiest and most urban precinct. While my partner and I were sitting together in a parking lot, we were dispatched to a domestic dispute called in by a passerby on a cell phone. The female complainant said that a male and female were “fighting” in the roadway.
While we were on the way there the call was updated and the complainant said the female had told her that the male had a gun. We arrived in the area within three minutes of the call and found that the roadway was clear, but we saw a female matching the description given by the complainant walking through a nearby gas station parking lot.
My partner was in front of me as we pulled onto the side street that ran beside the gas station and a large, very seedy, weekly stay motel. As we pulled to a stop and started to get out of our cars, the woman saw us and began walking towards us. We both then noticed the male at the other end of the gas station on the opposite side of the road. He saw us and immediately began running in the other direction and went into the motel parking lot.
I’ve often heard that it’s easy to tell the difference between a rookie and a veteran in a foot chase. The rookie runs after the perp and the veteran runs back to his car. Well, both of us being veterans we both jumped back into our cars and were able to catch up to the man pretty quickly as he ran across the parking lot. We cornered him in the back of the motel as he ran up the stairs.
We had to leave our cars behind and chased him up the stairs to the third floor and down the third floor hallway, about 50 yards, and up another flight of stairs, then run about 50 more yards down the top floor. My partner was a member of our SWAT team and was in better shape than I. Even with 30 pounds of gun belt and body armor he had been able to stay pretty close to the man while climbing the stairs and in the straightaway on the top floor, he had closed the gap to about 10 to 15 feet behind the perp, while I had fallen back to about 20 feet behind.
I think the perp finally realized he wasn’t going to be able to outrun us and he stopped and spun around to fight just as my partner dove to tackle him. The perp threw a wild punch that just happened to catch my partner right on the chin as he was diving through the air. I saw my partner’s head snap backwards and he sagged towards the ground. His lower lip was severely lacerated and instantly began bleeding profusely; it would ultimately require over 30 stitches.
Ninety percent of the people out there, cops included, would have lost consciousness after taking a punch like that. My partner, however, studies martial arts and has the kind of don’t-give-up mindset we all need. He later told me he could see the blackness closing in around him as he slipped towards unconsciousness. However, he was able to keep his arms around the perp’s waist and hold onto him. It took no more than a second for me to catch up after the punch, but we were in a very narrow hallway so I slowed down to try to get around him so I could tackle the perp. As I did this I saw the perp’s right hand coming out from behind his back, holding a stainless steel automatic pistol. I slammed on the brakes and drew my S&W M3913.
In 2001, I had been involved in a shooting and the familiar tunnel vision and feeling of time slowing down kicked in again. I began bringing my gun up to eye level, my finger had already found the trigger and was beginning to squeeze it, I had already made the decision that I was going to fire. As my sights started to come into the lower portion of my field of view I realized that my partner had also seen the gun. He began kicking at the perp and was trying to stand up and push him over the railing and down into the parking lot. This threw off the perp’s motion just enough that his gun hand dropped back slightly.
I was afraid that my partner would manage to stand up just as I fired so I stepped up and put my hand on his back and pushed my gun around him so I could shoot the perp without worrying about hitting my partner. Apparently, the perp realized he was about to die, either by being shot or by falling into the parking lot, so he threw his gun over the railing. Years of training kicked in and I instantly de-escalated, holstered my gun, and grabbed the perp around the shoulders and took him to the ground. We had to fight with the perp for what seemed like forever to get him into cuffs, but it was really less than a minute.
We learned later that the perp had a very extensive and violent criminal history and had even served time in prison for his involvement in a murder. Once again our criminal justice system had failed us and nearly gotten law-abiding people killed. A violent felon who should have still been in prison was out walking the streets. We also found that the woman he had been arguing with was his wife. Just before we arrived he had fired a shot into the ground at her feet then pointed his gun at her face and told her that the next bullet was going into her head.
A few months later at a probable cause hearing I saw that the perp’s wife was sitting in the courtroom. I assumed that, as is usual, she was there to support her husband. However, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that she was there to make sure this time he stayed in jail. She even came up to me after the judge upheld the decision to deny bond and said that she believed my partner and I had saved her life that day. To me that meant a lot more than the commendation I received from the department. My partner and I have talked about it and thought about that day a lot. I don’t think there is anything we could have done differently, other than not chase the guy, which wasn’t an option. The fact that we were both at least in good enough physical condition to keep up with the man, and my partner’s refusal to give up after receiving such a violent injury, saved the day.
— JG, Internet