One sunny day, I was issuing a citation on a busy highway. Naturally, I had my unit parked slightly out into traffic so I could approach the violator in safety. As I was explaining the ticket, a sixth sense told me to lean into the offender’s car. At that moment, I was struck on the shoulder by the right side mirror of a pickup truck speeding by. This was a trailer mirror mounted on a solid bar and fortunately for me, I was only hit by the swivel portion of the mirror causing it to break. The pickup continued speeding down the road and upon looking back, I could see it had to swerve into my safety zone to hit me.
I activated my emergency lights and gave chase, but lost sight of the pickup. After several miles, I doubled back and found the pickup abandoned in a restaurant parking lot. A check of its license plate revealed this pickup was stolen. Responding units conducted an area search and detained two suspicious males nearby. One had a sliver of mirror glass lodged in his right thumb. Because I hadn’t actually seen the driver, it was a thin case until our ID technician responded to the scene. He was able to lift latent fingerprints from the pickup and match them to the suspects we had detained. It also turned out that both males were intoxicated, so this case went from an assault on a peace officer to a DUI hit and run and GTA.
We identified who the passenger was by matching his blood to the blood left on the inside passenger door handle. The driver was put behind the wheel by his fingerprints on the shift lever and outside left rear view mirror. Neither suspect would give a statement.
Me personally, I think the driver did it on purpose. Both suspects displayed very negative attitudes towards law enforcement. If I had been hit by the mirror mounting bar instead of just the mirror, I wouldn’t be here today. I was lucky to just receive a nasty bruise. Establishing a safety zone by offsetting my unit was a major factor in saving my life. That sixth sense helps, but it pays to practice officer safety tactics too.