A Rookie’s Last Lesson

It’s 2 AM as I rolled the blacked out patrol car down the alley and parked. A crisp fog hung in the air and silver globes surrounded the streetlights. This morning was as damp and dark as it had ever been. The time had come for this Last Lesson with my rookie.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This Recruit Deputy had ridden under my wing for two months after months with other Field Training Officers. He had passed all the tests and was as close to being a full grown Police Officer as I could make him. Tomorrow I would set him free – He would be on solo patrol for the first time in his life.

I had taught him how to walk into a room with command presence – where everyone instantly knew who was in charge. I taught him how to speak with the voice of ten men, filled with brimstone and determination. How to look into a man’s eyes. Lessons in how to shoot, how to stand, what to watch.

DSC_0001

Lessons in cover and concealment, law and order, threats and dangers.

I taught him that we are always Men of Honor – we don’t lie – That the People give us the power to arrest and kill them – we, at the very least, owe them an obligation of Truth.

I sat on the fender of the cruiser and lit a cigarette as the recruit stood nearby.

I begin, “Cub pay attention because this will be one of the most important lessons I can offer you. We don’t Quit – We fight through our fear and pain. Sometimes you may not see a clear path to victory but know you cannot lose. Enter every battle with a Warrior’s Mind.”

A car turns down the alley away from us.

I continue, “You have to swear an Oath to me right now. If the worst should happen, should your heart be blasted out the back of your chest you still have about 4 seconds of life left. Kill the mother fucker that killed you. Draw your gun, fight to your end, never quit.” I take a long draw on my Marlboro as I collect my next thought.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“We all die alone unless we die together.”

The young Brother then swore his Oath to me. We hugged in the fog, in the dark, in the honor of his promise.

DSC_0011-2

PS: I have been reminded to remind you that I write in the voice of who I was on that day. I am a time traveler but I can only travel back into my own time…

© 2017, Michael Fulcher. All rights reserved.

The Price We Pay

DSC_0232

“I am what they trained me to be. I am what they wanted me to be.”

As I looked up I see my PTSD doc had tears in her eyes. I had just finished telling her of one of my scars. She asked for it so I told her what it is like to hold a dead child in your hands and curse the sky.

“Michael do you know what it means to be in a state of Hyper-arousal or Hyper- vigilance?”

“You mean me having my head on a swivel? I was trained to be a human recorder. To see which hand the gun is in, to witness the wounds, to remember everything and be able to testify to the Truth of it all later. I put that shit in my long term memory banks. The military calls it Situational Awareness. I had to live in this state to survive in the World they asked me to bring Peace to. I haven’t found the “OFF” switch. I honed this skill that you now use to identify my PTSD. That’s pretty fucked up.”

Second card 078

A long pause followed in which she offered no answer. Her question caused me to drifted into my past…

I was on patrol in the dark with another rookie at my side. This one wasn’t getting it. I had worked with him on his skills of observation for the past week. He had the eyes of a civilian and I wanted him to have animal eyes, to see everything. I decided to teach him a lesson. I waited for him to pick a car and make a traffic stop.

We approached the suspect vehicle in the customary manner, the rookie made contact with the driver and I covered him from the rear fender. I noted three occupants besides the driver. We retreat to the patrol car to run checks on the driver.

Second card 271

The lesson begins…

“Rookie don’t even think of looking up. If you do I swear I’ll make you walk back to the station house. Do you understand me?”

A quiet “Yes Sir” comes out of the rookie.

“Let us imaging another scenario, I just got blasted in the chest by one of the passengers and I’m laying in the ditch with a sucking chest wound. Now let’s imagine that the suspect vehicle has fled the scene. You’re in the ditch with me holding my cigarette pack against my wound and you have your radio in the other hand. Let me hear your broadcast to get me help and to catch those that harmed me – GO!”

Second card 519

The rookie fumbled – this is what he didn’t know. He had no idea where we were, the color or model of the car, the number of occupants, no part of the license plate. He was clueless.

“What are you gonna do rookie – I need an ambulance?”

“I’m gonna run up to that house and ask for their address.”

“That’s great but who is gonna keep pressure on my sucking chest wound? Are you gonna let me die?”

More stumbling by the rookie. I sensed the great dump of stress I had caused for him. His heart was racing as if these things had really happened.

“Rookie this is serious work we do. Get your head in the game or get out before you get someone killed.”

We kicked the stop without issuing any tickets.

Second card 583

After this lesson this rookie did have his head on a swivel. He began to notice everything. He became what I wanted him to be and is still a very successful Police Officer.

I suddenly realized that maybe even now he was visiting his PTSD doc and telling them how he became hyper-vigilant and how he came to live in a state of hyper-arousal.

I felt a twang of guilt for having created another like me…

078

© 2016, Michael Fulcher. All rights reserved.

Trojan Horse Operation

Trojan Horse Operation – Ypsilanti Township – When I was Lion Strong

DSC_0115

What I’m about to tell you happened at the peak of the Blood and Crip gang war. Street corner crack cocaine trafficking had reached it’s Zenith and many corners were occupied by a crack cocaine dealer (in the open) and a gunman (hidden). Drug trafficking turf have been claimed and paid for in blood and gangs claimed ownership of their corners. Crack cocaine was the newest national epidemic and the zombies of the night moved among us, robbed us, killed us.

My Brothers and I fought them back in the dark while you slept.

This is the story of one operation.

DSC00822

The bosses had decided on a new plan of attack, a Trojan horse operation. About 20 of us signed up for this overtime operation but to be honest I would have worked the detail for free. I loved this stuff – These assignments were always exciting, dangerous and unpredictable. We all met at Station #2 for a briefing but we all knew what we were in for. We were to be dropped into a “target rich environment” and expected to run down the rabbits.

We broke into partners for protection. Three partner crews were in marked patrol cars and assigned to the outer perimeter, two partner crews were in unmarked surveillance cars and assigned Scout responsibilities. I was one of the remaining ten, veterans of operations like these, Tucked in the Truck. We were the jump out crew and were to stay hidden until the time was right.

No one was to run off without cover and the buddy system assured that. Each of us was clad in armor and dangling flex cuffs hung from our ballistic vests. The time had come for a last press check of weapons, magazines, flashlights, handcuffs and a thumbs up to your partner.

As I mount up my adrenaline begins to build and my focus becomes more  acute. I felt more than human – I was a part of this team – we had plans – we had targets. Muscle memory flashes it’s bright light, I tingle with anticipation of the night. In the moment I know I love this. We were ready.

DSC00199

We ten pack tightly side by side into the rear of a U-Haul moving truck. The floor was wooden and splintered as we tried to sit without stings. One of the surveillance units made a pass down Calder street and by our intended jump out location near the edge of a city park. “Be advised there are more than a dozens gang members on the corner and they seem twitchy – They gave us the stink eye,” the Scout advised.

The undercover officer begins to drive us and the truck to the park.

The bosses had decided to double roll the dice. Not only were 10 cops about to be air dropped on an active drug street corner but they wanted a cocaine buy to go with it. The Undercover officer was to drive up and buy crack and we would bail out after the deal went down.

One of the Cops in the back of the truck starts flashing his light against his newest piece of gear, a glow in the dark POLICE jacket. “What the fuck are you doing Bill” I ask. He says “I don’t want any of you fuckers shooting me in all the confusion were about to create.” I laughed but couldn’t argue with his logic.

Someone ripped a two note fart, more laughter and threats followed.

DSC00254

“ONE MILE” the driver calls out.

The Undercover Officer begins to give a description of a possible suspect as the truck rolls to a stop “I can’t see his cover man” and then he went quiet. A hushed deadly silence overtook all of us in the rear of the truck. Any tiny movement or noise could endanger not only the Undercover Officer but the whole operation.

We wait and listen.

U/C: Hey Gee you straight?

Dope Man: Yea Cuz what you need?

U/C: How about two twenties?

Dope Man: Let me see the cash.

20 seconds pass…

U/C: Good deal (Our signal to bail and catch whatever ran)

The rear door of the moving truck flies open and all of us hit the ground at once. I was instantly reminded of some wild rodeo except made for Cops. One of my Brothers let go with a war cry at the top of his lungs.

I recognized a half a dozen gang members when I jumped from the truck. All I could see were assholes and elbows as they ran towards the park entrance. Many of them were already career criminals and If they were caught they were looking at decades in prison.

The work begins…

The U/C had giving a good description of the crack cocaine dealer and I had him in my sights from the time my feet hit the ground. I ran after him into the darkness – he was my single target – my partner with me. This thug was ours, we cut him from the pack hoping someone else had the hidden gunman – this thug’s cover.

I trusted my Pack – I trusted my partner – I trusted my skill – I trusted my Heart

The calm clear eyed animal within me chased down this Thug. All sounds stopped as I closed the distance and slammed him to the ground. After a short struggle the cuffs were on. He was a stunned animal, he was my prey.

I hear my own heartbeats first as I re-entered the World.

DSC_0337

We take the crack dealer back up to one of the waiting marked patrol units which now flooded the area. From one of the cars I could hear the theme song from the Cops show playing. “Bad boys bad boys what you gonna do, what you gonna do when they come for you.” Most of  the other Thugs were captured and a couple of stolen handguns were recovered. I notice a neighbor give us a thumbs up from behind his curtains. I appreciate the intensity of my life.

It was a good night. A lot of thugs went to jail and no Cops got hurt and I made overtime. What more do you want?

DSC00006

© 2016, Michael Fulcher. All rights reserved.

The Execution of Mary Hulbert

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Circuit Court Judge would say that this was the most heinous” crime in his 30 years of judicial experience.

The snow was sideways on that day, the Sun invisible to me. The wind screamed of horror and places not to be. Terror had claimed another victim, a child of just thirteen.

I was the newest Detective having been promoted just a couple of months earlier to work minor crimes. My caseload consisted of burglaries, larcenies, check cases, pawn shop investigations and the like. All of the Detectives worked out of the main station. I was surrounded by the Salty Dogs and Sperm Whales of the department. Grayed, grizzled and often grumpy most of them had worked major cases for decades. I had earned my way into the Detective Bureau but I was a cub among bears.

Dispatch called upstairs and told the Sergeant a child’s body had been found in a wooded area by a couple of rabbit hunters. One of the hunters would say, “In the thickets, I saw something, looked whitish. The closer I got, the more it looked like a body. It looked like someone dressed up a dummy, maybe trying to scare us.” At first I thought it was a mannequin, “I knew a mannequin didn’t have a belly button. The body was frozen and waxy looking with snow on the eyes. I took my gun and touched her side thinking to hear the knock of plastic, I didn’t. Then I touched her fingers and they bent back.””

He tried to stay with the body but got frightened and ran after his buddy and towards his car. They drove to a nearby preschool and called the Sheriff’s office.

A scramble to find the Truth begins.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Sergeant tells me to stay put and to start checking missing person(s) reports as everyone else bolts for the door. All of the Detectives descended on the crime scene which was an open area away from the city, some might call it the beginning of the country.” Large blocks of trees crossed by farmer’s fields, everything bordered by dirt roads in one mile squares, 640 acres between. Majestic oak trees stood between fence and furrow, with field stones cleared over a hundred years.

It didn’t take long to discover an adjoining jurisdiction had a report of a missing 13 year old girl and the description matched what the Detectives were calling in from the scene. The victim had suffered multiple wounds to her body and we were all but certain it was Mary. The clothing and physical description matched. The pieces began to fit.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mary Ann Hulbert was last seen with Steven Stamper and Christopher Machacek, both 16 years of age. A neighbor drove Mary to the entrance of the trailer park where Stamper and Machacek were waiting for her. Mary had confided to the neighbor that she thought she was pregnant by Machacek and she was going to talk to him about it. She fiddled nervously with a screwdriver in her pocket and said she had it “just to make sure” she didn’t get hurt, it was her protection. The neighbor watched Mary get in the Bronco with Stamper and Machacek and ride into her Nightmare, never to be seen alive again.

I knew Stamper and Machacek from my time in uniform patrol or street work. I’d contacted them often on traffic stops and during minor criminal investigations. I considered them low-level punks with attitudes. I knew where everybody lived and who they associated with, I knew their Grandmothers and neighbors. I relayed what I’d discovered and knew to the Detective Sergeant.

Next the principal Detective, the Sergeant and I responded to the homes of Stamper and Machacek. We told them we were investigating the disappearance of Mary and asked for their assistance in finding her and if they would come down to the Station. They both agreed and traveled to the station in their cars with family members. At this point Stamper and Machacek were considered witnesses. When they moved from witness to suspect would become a key legal issue and nearly cost us the case.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Interviews

One of the reasons I was promoted to Detective was my ability to obtain confessions during the interview process. I worked hard to learn effective interview techniques and obtained many confessions.

Here is quick rookie lesson. When I went to someone’s house to interview them as a suspect I would look for something to connect to them with. If I saw bowling trophies on the mantle I would ask, “Did you ever bowl a 300?”” If there was an old beat up car in the backyard I’d ask, ““Man is that a 57′ – I wish I could find a sweet ride like that.”” The problem with this is you have to know something about what you’re talking about. If I asked the bowler if he ever bowled a 400 game he would think me an idiot, rightfully so. Take time to make yourself human before asking the hard questions. Shake their hand and look them in the eye. Call the Doctor by his first name, call the janitor “Sir”.”

Lesson over, back to the past.

DSC_0152

I don’t know what the Sergeant was thinking but he assigned me to interview Stamper and Machacek with the senior Detective. Maybe he saw it as a training opportunity, maybe it was because I was good at getting to the Truth. For whatever reason I was thrust into the biggest case of my career, the weight of it nearly crushed me. A Life was lost, others changed, never the same.

Stamper and Machacek were interviewed separately and in the presence of their legal guardians. All of their statements were tape recorded.

They both told a story of picking Mary up and later dropping her off near her school. There were enough inconsistencies in the telling that the hairs on my neck began to stand. Their main story was rock solid but the little details were screwed up. They both gave the exact location where Mary had been dropped off but when I asked which way she walked away one said she went left, the other said right. When I asked where she sat in the Bronco –one said the front the other said the back. Slowly they were moving from witnesses to suspects but they stuck to their lie.

DSC_0178

At some point the senior Detective made a major mistake, which he would compound later. He said to Machacek, “There is no way I can let you go home tonight”.” Defense Attorneys would argue this statement was an indication Machacek was under arrest and should have been immediately transported to the juvenile detention center which was required by Michigan Law.

We weren’t getting any closer to the Truth and I decided to gamble. I told Machacek that Stamper was at the station and being questioned by other Detectives and watched the blood drain from his face. Stamper was the weaker of the two and Machacek knew he could fold at any moment. I told him their stories better match up and they would be compared to find the Truth. The artery on the side on his neck bulged.

Machacek requested a tape recorder saying he was going to tell us what happened to Mary. I think he caved in to panic and decided to tell his lies first. He was again advised of his Miranda Rights.

Machacek said that he and Stamper drove Mary to the wooded area.”We went back in the field and Stamper told her to take off her clothes, and so she was fighting for a little while and then Stamper hit her so she took off her clothes and he put a blindfold on her.”” He said Stamper shot Mary six or seven times with a .22 caliber rifle and then reloaded. Mary tried to run away and that was when Stamper shot her dead. “She was making noises and stuff and I was tripping out”,” Machacek ended by saying he had helped Stamper conceal Mary’s body by dragging her by the feet into some nearby bushes. On the way home Stamper said, “I never killed nobody before”.” “”He was praying and stuff saying– I hope God forgives me””, Machacek said. They drove to Stamper’s house where they cleaned the Bronco and the rifles. An agreement was made to tell the lie about dropping Mary off at the entrance to her school if anyone asked. Next they fixed themselves a meal of hoagie sandwiches and root beer floats and said in front of witnesses, “We should wash our hands after what we just did.””

The following day, New Year’s Eve, they partied with friends.

One down.

DSC_0005

I entered the interview room where Stamper and his legal guardian were. I advised him of his Miranda Rights and he indicated he understood them.

““Bad news Steve, Chris just gave you up on a taped statement. He said that you are the one that shot Mary”.” I sat the black leather cassette tape player between us. I savored the moment, the tension, I turned over four kings – I played part of the tape. Stamper told me to “load a fresh tape”” because he was going to tell his side of the story.

Perfect.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Stamper’s statement unfolded with greater detail that Machacek’s.

Mary called Machacek and told him she was pregnant and that he was the father. Stamper and Machacek drove to Mary’s neighborhood to pick her up. On the way they stopped by Stamper’s house and picked up two .22 caliber rifles and ammunition. One of the rifles was a recent Christmas gift from his grandmother. They drove to the front of Mary’s trailer park where she had agreed to meet them.

Stamper said they did not want to kill Mary but were trying to induce a miscarriage. Their plan was to shoot guns at her and scare her enough to cause a miscarriage. He drove her to the isolated wooded area north of Ypsilanti and not too far from her home.

Once there Machacek told Mary to strip off her clothes while they were all still in the Bronco. “You heard them, take them off”” Stamper told Mary. ““Then she was getting lippy with Chris. I told her to shut up. She was sitting there with a screwdriver in her hand, playing around. I said – Why don’t you quit playing around and pointed my finger at her. She slapped my finger. I slapped her.””

Stamper said he blindfolded Mary with an ACE bandage and, “She was laughing the whole time, thinking it was all just a joke”, he said.

She was told to get out of the Bronco, wearing only her bra and panties. She stood with her back against the tree as they told her, clutching a stuffed toy dog to her chest she had picked up when getting out of the Bronco. Mary said her fear was they would leave her alone in the field, a worse fear was yet to be realized. She began to cry out her last moments of life.

Stamper said Machacek “snapped” and fired about 20 rounds at Mary.” Stamper could hear Mary moaning after the first burst of fire. He asked Machacek “What are you doing?”” Machacek then fired the fatal bullet. Stamper said “Shes dead”.” He (Machacek) said “”I know she is dead”” it really didn’t seem to bother him”. Stamper said he took his hat off and “asked the Lord’s forgiveness for this”. Stamper denied ever firing his gun at Mary and said he only fired into the ground at Machacek’s insistence. Afterwards he helped Machacek hide Mary’s body under a bush and they drove back to his house.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Autopsy

I met Mary for the first and last time the following day. She was on the autopsy table, more child than girl, a porcelain doll –- lifeless and still – just 13 years old. To see her reminded me of a gangster’s death, her body riddled with bullet holes. She had been shot from the front and back, in her left collar-bone, left shoulder, chest, armpit, navel and hip bone. One deformed bullet remained in her body and the rest were through and through shots. I touched my body in the same places as her wounds and try to imagine the pain, the fear, the end. I had to know what happened, it was my sworn duty.

The pathologist testified Mary could have survived every wound with the exception of one, The fatal bullet that passed through her side and into her heart and lungs.

She wore a small gold ring with a heart-shaped stone on her tiny finger. This would be something her mother could clutch to her chest during the dark nights to come. Something to kiss, something to hold, something to cry over. A silent witness to a life taken, a testament to innocence stolen, a memory of Mary.

As I touched Mary’s hand I made a promise to her. “Mary, I will do my best to find Justice for you and hold those that did this responsible.” I spoke the words into the still air over her body.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Court

Seems like this would be a fairly straight forward case, right? WRONG, it was FUBAR from the beginning.

The senior Detective, the one assigned the case, compounded the “There is no way I can let you go home tonight”” statement to Machacek by telling the person responsible for transcribing the tape to leave that part out. A small mistake became a potential attempted conspiracy to obstruct Justice. The Sheriff relieved him of his investigative duties and demoted him to civilian. This would be his last criminal investigation.

At that time Michigan Law required a petition before a Juvenile Court Judge to obtain permission to try a juvenile as an adult. The senior Detective was having his Miranda Rights read to him in the Judge’s chambers before he could testify. He was under threat of criminal charges because of things he had said and done. The Detective Sergeant moved into the primary or lead investigator seat, sitting next to the Prosecutor. There was only one problem with that is he didn’t know shit about the confessions, the critical part of this case.

The time line and details of the unfolding investigation had to come through my testimony. When and how Stamper and Machacek moved from witness to suspect became important, especially in light of the “Ain’t nobody going home” statement.”

A Walker hearing was scheduled before a Juvenile Court Judge. This would be an evidentiary hearing to determine if the defendant’s statements were voluntary. If Machacek and Stamper’s statements were thrown out the whole case could be lost under the Fruit of the Poisonous Tree doctrine (even though everybody knew they were guilty). They knew and revealed things only the killer(s) could know.

Fruit of the Poison Tree Doctrine

This doctrine holds that evidence gathered with the assistance of illegally obtained information must be excluded from trial. Thus, if an illegal interrogation leads to the discovery of physical evidence, both the interrogation and the physical evidence may be excluded, the interrogation because of the exclusionary rule, and the physical evidence because it is the fruit of the illegal interrogation.

This is the ultimate Cop penalty, the black flag and is used to punish bad Cop behavior. The pressure was on and I felt it like no other time in my career. There was a real possibility these cold-blooded killers could walk. I had to get my testimony right. I carried case files everywhere and memorized timelines, the when and where, the evidence, who said what. I paced the floor many sleepless nights anticipating questions the team of defense attorneys might ask the next morning.

The hearing before Judge Woods lasted for 7 weeks (not a typo – –7 fucking weeks of testimony – – a State record) and I testified for days on end. How many ways can the same questions be asked? My own testimony was thousands of pages long and the Court hired an extra person just to keep up with transcribing the testimony.

In the end, and with a stinging rebuke of the Senior Detective’s conduct, the cases against Machacek and Stamper were bound over to Circuit Court for trial. The Judge agreed that these juvenile defendants should be tried as adults and said they were “beyond rehabilitation” in the Juvenile Justice system.” She allowed Stamper’s statement to stand as evidence and threw out Machacek’s. The case moved forward.

Once in Circuit Court the same questions and legal arguments had to be answered. The voluntary nature of the statements was tested. Over and over I was questioned about when Stamper and Machacek were first considered suspects. All of this had to be answered before the real evidence could be presented. The guns and bullets, shell casings, photos of wounds and all the rest. The Circuit Court Judge allowed back in to evidence Machacek’s statement.

At the conclusion of the trials Machacek was found guilt of Murder in the First Degree and Stamper was found guilty of Murder in the Second Degree.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sentencing

In October of 1988, nearly 2 years after the murder of Mary, they were both sentenced. Michigan doesn’t have a death penalty and Machacek’s First Degree Murder conviction resulted in a mandatory life sentence without any possibility of parole. That’s Life, all day long Life, no getting out of prison Life. Stamper received a Life sentence with an eligibility for parole. Both were 18 years of age when sentenced.

United States Supreme Court Decision

In 2012 the US Supreme Court ruled that laws requiring youths convicted of murder to be sentenced to die in prison violate the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

“It is a great tragedy when a juvenile commits murder most of all for the innocent victims,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote. But also for the murderer, whose life has gone so wrong so early. And for society as well, which has lost one or more of its members to deliberate violence, and must harshly punish another.””

I disagree with Chief Justice Roberts.

This was one of the most cold-blooded, cruel acts I ever investigated. Stamper and Machacek conspired in the cold light of day to murder Mary. They collected the weapons and picked the place of her execution. They formed a firing squad and killed Mary to save themselves, that was their plan, to cover their asses.

I was in that interview room and carefully listened to the words of these killers. I believe the Truth lies between the statements and what was not said. Where half-truths dance with absolute lies a thread can be found. What follows is my considered opinion of what happened to Mary in her last moments of life.

In the woods Mary knew she was in danger and she fought for her life. She pulled out her weapon, the screwdriver, only to be disarmed by Stamper. They slapped her and forced her to strip naked for their amusement. They tortured her, they dehumanized her, they filled her with terror. Together they lead her to her place of death. They sentenced her to death by firing squad and carried out her execution, a cruel and lingering death filled with fear, agony and pain. I believe Machacek shot Mary and that Stamper did fire once into the ground, right through Mary’s side and into her heart. I wonder if he felt good for putting her out of her misery? He stood over her dead body and asked for forgiveness, for what?

I don’t believe Mary was laughing.

Stamper and Machacek should die in prison and I will do everything within my power to make that so.

Even now, I prepare for the day when either come up for parole. I gather old reports, news articles, talk to partners of my past. I stay in contact with Mary’s Mother. I twist bone and pick scab – I open another clay jar. I try to remember it all. I will be ready.

I made a promise…

DSC_0046

© 2015 – 2016, Michael Fulcher. All rights reserved.

Warrior Love

DSC_1961

I’m single again, for the 21st time, and I think it’s all the fault of what I experienced in my past. Let me speak of why.

We’ve all been told at some point in our lives, “I’ve got your back” by someone who was important to us. I lived a life where this was a very real thing and not just words. I experienced what it meant for someone to “Have my back” more than once and sometimes when lives depended on the outcome.

DSC_2084

Eight of us gather in the darkness planning our raid. To bust down another door – to yell out orders and force submission – to serve a Search Warrant and do our job – this is why we get paid the big bucks but to tell the truth I’d have done it for free. Decisions were made about where to take the injured, just in case. A well choreographed dance was about to take place. Surprise and threatened violence waits on both sides of the crack house door.

“A block out” the driver yells out. Time to focus, to see everything, to have the eyes of a hawk. Time to be brave, to lose the sense of self and feel part of the team. Time to think of nothing but what is about to happen. Time to control the chaos that we are about to create.

DSC_3005

Someone slides the van door open while we travel down the dark street. A blast of frozen air slaps my face into further awareness. I am alive and ready for what’s to come. Sometimes having PTSD is a good thing and in moments like this I was calm and ready. The Fight or Flight response was built into me and I was ready for this fight. I had been here before, many times. For some reason unknown to me the more dangerous and desperate things became the calmer I was able to be, a reversed response. This served me well throughout my Law Enforcement career.

This was a possible bad one. The informant who set up the deal, by buying cocaine from one of the Perps, knew little other than, “These were some bad motherfuckers outta Detroit and everybody’s gotta gun, maybe a AK-47 too.” The informant didn’t know the layout of the house or where anybody might be when we entered.

DSC_0261

“Sheriff’s Department – Search Warrant – Open the Door!”

We fall in line behind the man with the ram who is about to destroy the door, everyone in their assigned place. My hand on the shoulder of my Brother in front of me. I Loved that moment of anticipation, commitment and bonding.

We were about to be forged in the fire once again.

The door and jamb is splintered and we enter with steely determination. I am one of the first through the door and begin my search for the bad guys. I find one and begin to take him to the floor for cuffing when the fight breaks out. I can still remember fighting this thug and looking up to see my Brother covering me, standing over me, gun in hand ordering the other thugs back.

In my life I’ve know what it means when someone has my back in a real way and I haven’t experienced it since I left Police work. I search for a woman that would love me like this and in the same moment know I’ll never find her…

Warrior Love

DSC_2293

 

 

© 2015 – 2016, Michael Fulcher. All rights reserved.

Rookies can be Dangerous – Part I

DSC_3376

I was an FTO or Field Training Officer for most of the time I spent in Uniform Patrol. I’m more proud of that than a lot of my later accomplishments. I tried hard to train good Police Officers and to shit-can bad ones. I worked to instill in them Valor and Honor and Truth, to test them. To teach them to survive, to be Brave, and to always Win. I taught them to be Warriors and Keepers of the Peace. I was tough but fair, critical. In the same moment I was their Mentor, Big Brother or Father.

Sometimes I was their Ending…

DSC_1281

8:30 a.m.

We’re just out of the Barn and for a change the Midnight shift left us no complaints or radio runs waiting. I grabbed a coffee from the corner Seven Eleven store and jump back into the passenger seat of the cruiser. I tell the rookie to head North.

A heavy drizzle, more like a dense fog, had draped over the neighborhood of tightly packed two story cracker box houses. I peer between the houses, into the backyards on the next block, looking for trouble. Glowing halos surround street lights like silver moons. At the wheel of the black and white Chevrolet Caprice was my newest rookie. I still hadn’t managed to remember his first name. Cub would have to do for now.

DSC_0001

I had told the rookie to turn down this side street because of some recent home break-ins. It was early enough that the good citizens had left for work and the bad ones were left behind, with me and the Cub, in the gray haze.

I look down the street and see a car trying to short block (avoid contact with) us. He made the turn suddenly and without signalling. It all seemed spooky and weird for the time and place.

“Cub, catch up to that deuce and a quarter before it gets to Ecorse Road if you don’t mind.”

And he did. I think, I really mean this, that many recruits had never driven a V8 engine in their lives. Squealing tires and screeching brakes lurch us towards the target vehicle. We come up behind it right before Ecorse Road, a perfect place for the traffic stop.

DSC_0009

“Light him up Cub but I’m crossing over and making primary contact.”

I made first contact with the driver and smelled his fear and tension downwind, I shit you not. He already had his hands on the wheel, more weirdness.

“Let me see your driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance.”

“Deputy my license is suspended and I don’t have it on me.” Good enough for me to place him under arrest, for the moment. I could release him later with a misdemeanor citation if I wanted to. I needed time to figure out what’s going on and me and the Cub and the nervous dude will all be safer if nervous dude is cuffed and stuffed in the back of the cruiser, at least for the time being.

DSC_0186

I order the driver from the vehicle, patted him down, cuffed him and placed him in the rear of the cruiser. Once that was done I told the Recruit this:

“Cub, something ain’t right here. I want you to search the car. Find me something and find some ID. This might be our break in guy. Get to work.”

I get back in the passenger seat, slide the Plexiglas partition window open, and read the driver his rights. He waives his rights and answers some preliminary  questions. He said that he was lost and was trying to find his way home in the fog (buzz). I ask his name “James Smith, no middle name” (buzz). I asked his date of birth, twice about a minute apart. Neither answer was the same (buzz). When I asked how old he was the answer didn’t match either date of birth he had given (buzz).

DSC_0041

While I’m having fun being the human polygraph machine and figuring out how many lies one little nervous dude could tell the rookie comes up to the door, twiddling his thumbs. I crack the window and asked him “You didn’t find nothing in the car and no ID?” He answered that he didn’t find “anything of evidentiary value.”

“Search it again.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I went back to questioning the driver and he continued to lie. He had finally agreed on what his name and date of birth was but couldn’t remember his home address (buzz). I asked what his Zodiac sign was for the date of birth he finally picked, he guessed wrong (buzz).

The rookie comes back to the window. “Nothing Boss. Couldn’t find nothing.”

“Search it again.”

Because this guy had lied so much and raised so much suspicion within me I made a rare decision. I placed him under arrest for the driving while license suspended (misdemeanor violation) and would take him to the jail just to get a better ID. I’d have to deal with a possibly pissed off Sergeant in the County jail for bringing in a traffic offender but  I needed some photos and prints and time to investigate this guy further.

The rookie comes back from his third search of the same vehicle empty handed. I had him fill out the impound sheet and make the wrecker request to tow the car to the impound lot.

The wrecker driver, who I’d known for years makes the scene. “Hey Deputy Mike, How have you been?”

“Just pissing in the wind Tom, just pissing in the wind.” We laugh and he offers up his Beechnut chew pouch. I declined.

The rookie, me and the nervous dude start towards the County Jail, some fifteen minutes drive away from our location. The nervous dude lied all the way.

https://i2.wp.com/ratman.smugmug.com/photos/i-QZFrVn2/0/L/i-QZFrVn2-L.jpg?w=660&ssl=1

“Frank 20 copy – J&J’s Towing is requesting that Deputy Fulcher call them Immediately” came over the main police radio.

BUZZZ – More strangeness.

My best informants were Hookers (they see everything – their lives depend on it), Cab Drivers, Wrecker drivers, Trash-Men, Pizza delivery guys (they work the same streets for different reasons but it’s the same streets), and strippers, (well I love strippers – I find them to be strong women – warrior like – and they know lots). A lot of my cases were made with the help of these people. I took real bad people off the streets because of them. Cases wouldn’t have been made without their help.

Tom, the wrecker driver, was one of these people. Maybe contact would be a better description of our relationship. I didn’t pay him anything or get him out of tickets. He just called me when he saw things, he was a good citizen and he trusted me with the information.

DSC_0198

I had one of the first flip open Motorola Cellular phones and had J&J’s Towing dialed in already.

“Hey Tom, whats up?”

“Deputy Mike have you made it to the jail yet?”

“Not yet Tom, why?”

“Well you better just turn around and come back to the impound lot, trust me it’s important.” And I did trust Tom, I told the rookie to drive us to the impound lot.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

When we got there the Buick was still hanging from the tow straps of the wrecker. Tom walked up and motioned me towards the rear and pointed behind the driver’s seat, at the foot well.  Right there was the biggest and shiniest .44 Magnum six inch barreled handgun I had ever laid eyes on. How could or did the rookie miss this monster? It must have slipped out when the vehicle was towed but shit. My head was spinning – I was a hard task master when it came to Officer Safety. I patrolled the darkest parts of the worst neighborhoods I could find. I looked for trouble, it was my job. Officer Safety skills were a must.

Tom walked away as I whistled up my recruit. “Cub we got problems, real fucking problems.” I motioned him to look behind the driver’s seat. “You’re gonna write the report that explains all of this. Why Tom is now in our chain of evidence. Why you missed this weapon. I almost let this guy go back to his car and that gun.”

“But Cub we got more trouble than that. I want your promise to me right now, right here – your oath – that if any of your dumb ass shit gets me killed…,” – I took the time to poke him in the chest, hard, each time I said YOU – “That YOU tell my kids that it was YOU and not me that fucked up and got me killed. YOU gotta make this promise to me now or I can’t keep training YOU.”

A weak and feeble “I promise” escaped his clenched teeth.

The very next day the Recruit came in and pulled his own pin, he quit.

DSC_0067

© 2015, Michael Fulcher. All rights reserved.

Trooper Manuel H. Fields – End of Watch August 27, 1994

Trooper Manuel H. Fields | Michigan State Police, Michigan
.
I was loaned out to the Michigan State Police to work undercover narcotics for three years. For most of that time Manny worked out of the same office but on a different Team. I was on the Crack Attack Team (CAT) and Manny was part of a team involved in long term investigations. His team went after the big fish and mine snagged the corner dealers.
.
[​IMG]
.
We often worked together if either team needed surveillance or raid entry help. We had been through many operations together, Manny and I. There was this one time when my team had made a controlled purchase of an ounce of cocaine and needed some help with the Search Warrant raid. The location was a long row of tenement housing on a large root farm. Some Hispanic non-English speaking Perps sold the dope to one of our paid informants.
.
DSC_3471
.
COP INFO: A Controlled Purchase works like this. You meet with and strip search the Informant. Next you supply the informant with prerecorded cash funds. Then you drive the Informant to the target location and watch as he enters. You have to maintain surveillance continually while the informant is “Up and In” the target location. When the Informant returns he hands you the dope. You then drive the Informant from the area and strip search him again. Through this process you can write an affidavit for a Search Warrant and testify before a Judge that money went in the target location and dope came out. This will get you a Search Warrant to enter the Target location. Glamorous ain’t it. Lesson over, back to the past.
.
DSC_3492
.
Manny’s self chosen undercover name was CB or Chocolate Bunny. I bump CB on the side channel of the Police radio to see if his team was available to help out on the raid. They were so we schedule a meet up not far from the farm. I do the pre-raid briefing and make the entry assignments and place CB right in line with me. We all loaded up, armed to the teeth, as Manny climbs into the Chevrolet Astro van with me. There are six of us and we all wear black raid entry gear. Shamu has the ram, Pepper is on shotgun and riding shotgun, Flash has the entry shield. We are shoulder to shoulder as the tension settles in and the jokes begin. The driver says, “One mile out.” I suddenly realize that the suspects might not understand our raid entry orders and ask, “Any of you fuckers speak Spanish?” Manny says “I got this.”
.
DSC_0022
.
I asked him if he was sure because I’d never heard him speak any Spanish in the years I’d known him. Manny nodded his head, “Rat, I got this.” So we roll up and bail out into the darkness. Shamu destroys the door with the ram and steps aside. The team enters and I see about half a dozen subjects in the first room. Manny yells out, “No Fumar Gracias Por Favor Triple Sec La Pinata.”
.
Well like I said I don’t speak Spanish but I was pretty sure that wasn’t “Get down before we shoot your ass.” I look over at Manny and he is laughing his head off. I look at the Perps and repeat, “No Fumar Gracias Por Favor Triple Sec La Pinata.”
.
They seem confused.
.
GrandCanyon-1011 001
.
Skip forward in time to…
.
The Last Goodbye
.
Manny was rotating back to road patrol and his years of undercover assignment was coming to an end. He would leave behind the deals and doors and Trojan Horse operations and would return to a life of uniformed patrol, traffic accidents and taking any complaint the radio dished out. He was in the office cleaning out his desk when I last saw him. Lucky for me I took the time to have a long conversation with CB. We laughed and remembered some of the best. There were several Remember when moments between us. We spoke openly and with Truth. Manny told me what it meant to him to be a Michigan State Trooper. I told him I already knew that.
.
My team was on the way out the door and I had to go. If I would have only known that was the last time I would see Manny. I hugged him goodbye and told him I loved him.
.
IMG_20110605_141630
.
Manny got killed not long after that night. He made a traffic stop on I-94 and was dealing with that when some 70 year old woman crossed the fog line and struck him. He died instantly next to his patrol car and she drove home. She would later claim that she thought she had struck a deer. Bitch shouldn’t have been driving.
.
The funeral and aftermath
.
I don’t go to Cop funerals unless I have to. I have been to three, all brothers. Manny’s funeral was an intense journey for me. All of the team members were in attendance at his grave side as the bagpiper played Amazing Grace. Tears streamed down my face as I stood at rigid attention. On a nearby hill a single figure stepped forward and played Taps. I can remember it all. Ancient rituals and the path to Valhalla fill my mind.
.
On the way home most of my team stopped into a roadside bar and grill which was filled with trucker types. It was one of those worn red paint joints with a huge wooden bar fumed with the aroma of beer. It was a good place for greasy burgers and cold beer.
.
An ugly darkness had overtaken us. Our emotions were raw and our nerves exposed. As I look back I think it was because we had all been through so much with CB and for him to get killed in such an unfair way, we had nobody to hate, he was only 34 years old for fuck’s sake. We drank too much, we were rude and loud and we spoiled for a fight with anyone. Within hours we were all kicked out of the bar.
.
Cops can be assholes like that.
.

© 2015, Michael Fulcher. All rights reserved.

Poster Boy

DSC_0141

Sometimes I’m asked what I miss about Law Enforcement.

I miss beating the dog shit out of a man that would beat his woman in front of his children. For much of my patrol time I averaged one domestic violence case a shift, most resulting in an arrest. Some involved a side trip to the ER to treat the bloodied, beaten recently arrested fuckwit. I always thought that if you wanted to fight the Police it should sting a little bit.

In the beginning of my career there were no Domestic Violence laws on the books. We could make an arrest only if we witnessed the assault or if the case could be classified as a felony.

I was taught how to provoke the perpetrator into taking a swing at the Police.

Another Christmas story…

Christmas was just around the corner and the streets were heating up. During the holiday more people would be at home getting drunk, depressed and despondent – soaked in cheap whiskey. Living in The land of Shadows.

As we gathered with our friends to watch this sunset I was most thankful to have discovered Carol. Happiness surrounds me.

I was riding solo patrol and was dispatched to a domestic violence call. The location was within a two story apartment complex built on the edge of a real ghetto. I had been to this apartment before on a similar call. This time a neighbor heard fighting inside the apartment and called 911.

When I arrive I could hear loud arguing coming from inside the apartment. I listened at the door for a moment. The Perp was accusing his woman of cheating on him. He was screaming how he was gonna kill somebody. When I’d heard enough I pounded on the door.

He answered all huffy, “What the fuck you want – nobody here called the Police” he said with a deep southern drawl. Before me was this white male, thin but muscled. He was wiry and wired for sound. He was trying to control his temper with little success as veins throbbed on his forehead mixed with beads of sweat.

“It don’t matter who called, I’m here now and I’m going to make sure everybody is all right.”

“The fuck you are, you ain’t coming in my house.”

I pushed him aside with one stiff arm and entered the apartment. That pissed him off more. I saw the woman sitting at the kitchen table with her head down and her hair covering most of her face.

An Update: Carol and I have traveled much together since we met last Spring. We have been to Ouray Colorado and the hot springs there twice, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Walnut Canyon, Petrified Forest, Zion, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Canyon de Chelly, Pecos monument, Jemez mountains and many other beautiful places

“You alright Ma’am?”

“I’m fine Deputy – I don’t need any help.”

I questioned her and she denied any assault had taken place and said they were only arguing. The whole time I was trying to talk with her he was yelling, “Don’t say nothing.”

She looked up and her hair fell away from her face. He had hit her so hard the flesh under her eye was split. Tears and blood mixed on a face that was once young and beautiful but now filled with howling pain. I was stung by it, Anger and Rage rose up within me.

I turned on the hillbilly that would hit a woman like this as he was ordering me out of his apartment. I got in his face and leaned in. I poked him in the chest, hard, with my finger. I whispered into his ear, “You are one punk Mother Fucker. If you’re so tough why don’t you leap – Leap little Froggy.”

And he did, he swung on me. This guy was a fighter, a striker.

The night stand when we travel. Carol is good back-up. She protects and defends me . I love her more because of it.

Its always hard to tell who is going to be a good fighter and who would roll up into a ball when punched. This little son of a bitch was a scrapper. I punched him as hard as I could right between the eyes and he just smiled. The fight was on as he punched back, I tasted blood.

First we crashed into and broke the kitchen table. I keyed my prep and called for back-up. Next we spilled into the living room and both of us fell to the floor, taking the coffee table with us. We stood up and went over again this time taking out the Christmas tree as we landed on top of the gift wrapped packages.

I was able to get behind him and apply my best technique, the choke hold.

DSC_2799

COP INFO: As a rookie I had been trained by older Deputies how to apply this choke hold. The objective was to pinch down on both Carotid Arteries and deny blood flow to the brain. This choke hold would later be outlawed by policy. I guess too many Perps died in it’s application. It saved my bacon more than once.

My career was over before the days of the Tasers. We were more “Hands On” back then.

Back to this fight…

DSC_0186

Well dear Brothers – I’ve got this man by the neck and have clamped down with all my force. He starts bucking like a bronco. My knuckles are bloody, my muscles tense. I ride him like a pony and keep the pressure on his neck. Finally he starts to do the funky chicken, legs flailing and eyes bulging – Brain letting go. This was my favorite part, pushing his face into the stinking carpet as he lapsed into unconsciousness. I hear echoes of my Warrior past – Distant Drums – I smell Smoke and Fire.

I’m having a great time and was just about to release the choke hold when I saw something that I’d remembered for the rest of my life.

DSC_0230

There, hunkered up under the last standing table, was a small shaking tearful boy about 6 years old. He resembled a dog shitting peach pits, twisted up into a ball. I held eye contact with him as I choked his father into submission and busted up his Christmas.

I can’t explain it now but I felt bad, like it was somehow my fault.

He became the Poster Boy in my mind for all future Domestic Violence calls. Whenever I’d be pissed off about having to do yet another DV case I would think of him.

The child that lived in violence.

DSC_0001

 

© 2015 – 2017, Michael Fulcher. All rights reserved.

The Italian Tourist

NOTE: I needed to tell the stories of PTSD and Medal of Valor before this one would make sense and you might better understand my actions.

“Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.” Sun Tzu – The Art of War

This happened so long ago that the Statue of Limitations has passed. Now I can tell of crossing paths with the Italian Tourist.

I had been living in Kodachrome State park for a season, the time had come to move on. I was moving to Otter Creek to be closer to the Pretender, the first women I chased and caught after the end of my marriage.  Later I may write of her – She was another intense experience and looked just like Lauren Becall.

It was during my time at Kodachrome that I slowly re-entered society, a better Michael. I was finding my happiness. I lived in an ancient motor home with my dogs. By day we built trails with pick and shovel. At night we visited with happy campers, travelers and people of different places. I grew stronger with all the physical work. I wrote in the mornings while drinking black coffee from a hand warming mug. I slept under stars so thick I couldn’t tell them from camp smoke. Red sands became bed – Black sky became covers – Night air became dreams.

Kodachrome is a magical place, a bowl basin awash in glorious desert colors. Shadows and rock are Witness to the passing Ages – I stood humbled by the Place – Grounded to the Earth – Right where I was supposed to be – Surrounded – Safe. Kodachrome and the people I met there were an important part of my Journey.

I loaded everything up, hooked the trailer to the motor home, and whistled up the dogs. The last thing I needed to do was ride into town to say my goodbyes to the locals and pick up a few road snacks. I mount my finely tuned German motorcycle and carved a way into town on a twisted purple road. I stood on my foot pegs and pumped my fist skyward in celebration of my Freedom. I felt unleashed, stronger.

I pulled up to the pumps and filled the tank on my motorcycle and decide to just leave it and run in the store for quick goodbyes and salty snacks. I dangle my helmet over the mirror, threw my jacket over the saddle, and walked into a crowded store.

I took up a position forth in the checkout line and found everything I needed right there. A commotion caught my attention, a ripple in the flow of the herd, something is wrong.

There he stood in all his glory – the Italian Tourist. The hairy legged, yellow plaid short wearing, five foot nothing – fat man that he was. He had hoisted a bag of Kingsford charcoal over his head while screaming, in broken English, at the cashier over the price. He was in a full rage, face red, veins throb, muscles tense, filled with anger – Ripe.

Mary, the sixteen year old cashier and daughter of the owner, cowered and burst out in tears. She leaned as far away from the threat as she could, her back against the calendar filled wall.

Shit was about to happen. Muscle memory and past training took over. Without thinking about it I advanced behind the Italian Tourist and caught his neck in the bend of my left arm. I pulled him off-balance and into my old favorite position. He was on his heels walking backwards more interested in his next breath than anything else. The charcoal drops to the ground. I throttled him more, making sure the fight was out of him, as we spill into the parking lot. His wife ran towards us from their rented motor home. I pushed him and he fell on his fat ass in a dusty pile.

“You better just Get!” I told him. I think he’d had enough of me and scurried away towards the wife and hopefully back to Italy, the land of cheap charcoal.

I really wasn’t too interested in having contact with the Police so I jump on my motorcycle and raced back to camp and was gone within the hour.

I never got to say my goodbyes.

© 2015, Michael Fulcher. All rights reserved.

Medal of Valor

Mayflower Motel

Pittsfield Township

County of Washtenaw

Oct 8, 1994 1445 hrs

 

This happened when I was back in uniform and working road patrol on a day shift. I had made my bones and was the Junkyard Dog of the Department. I was difficult to manage, rough looking, not easy to pet but nobody stole your shit while I was on duty. I often led the shift in quality arrests and investigations and trained the best rookies and because of that I got away with more than most. My mustache was always outside of the department guidelines. My boots resembles suede and were beyond needing a coat of Kiwi.

I worked hard. I was at peak performance and running on all cylinders. I knew my place within the department and took full advantage of all the bullshit I could get away with.

I frequently drifted outside the bounds of my designated patrol area to back-up Ypsilanti City PD or Pittsfield Township PD or for any fucking reason I felt like. I got a lot of unfounded citizen complaints and I was the subject of more than one lawsuit against the Department.

Back to this snowy fall day. The Police radio was quiet and I was listening to the Michigan vs Michigan State football game on AM radio. My patrol unit was wired up with my personal Police Scanner, which I used to keep track of anything going on in adjoining jurisdictions.

The Pittsfield PD channel crackled to life “All units prepare to copy. A white male subject just entered the Mayflower Motel and has taken a hostage at knife point. The subject has barricaded himself with the hostage in the kitchen area”.

I think to myself, “Damn that sounds juicy”, and begin to work towards the motel and out of my patrol area. I didn’t advise Dispatch of my intent to assist Pittsfield.

I arrive in the parking lot and see several Pittsfield Township marked units scattered around the buildings.

The Mayflower motel and lounge was a low series of buildings which included a dozen motel rooms densely packed together. In the center of the parking lot was the kitchen, restaurant and lounge parts of the business. The motel was once at a  crossroads for many people traveling from Detroit to Chicago but had been bypassed by other roads. Wounded by progress, it had begun it’s death spiral serving the occasional customer as profits diminished and the buildings called out for repair. For years it had been used more by illicit daytime lovers than passing travelers. Red Brick dashed dusty dreams where Love was made and lost.

Mayflower Motel postcard, Michigan Avenue at Carpenter Road, Ypsilanti, Michigan.

“Dispatch be advised I’ll be out at the Mayflower assisting Pittsfield Township”.

As soon as I stepped out of the cruiser I was in the middle of an unexpected shit storm. I approached the door that opened to the restaurant. Just outside the door were two uniformed Township Officers with their guns at the low ready.

I called out to the one I knew the best. “Hey Jim, I’m a negotiator want me to take a crack at this guy”? Without hesitation Jim says “Go for it Rat, He’s got her in the kitchen”. I asked what he was armed with and was told a knife.

As Pittsfield Officers were trying to lock down the perimeter I stepped through the door and into the dining area. Directly across from me was an open door to the kitchen. Just inside that door and at the base of an open steel cabinet I could see the Victim, Marylou Marker. She was sitting on the floor with the Perp right behind her. He had a knife pressed to the center of her chest and was telling her if she moved again he’d stab her in the heart. The Perp was using her body as a shield and only exposed a small portion of his head, one eye – one ear, directly behind Marylou’s head.

I was 20 feet away and considered attempting the shot, to hit the Perp in the forehead the next time he stuck his head out. I was one of the better shooters on the Department but thought it way too risky.

The Perp saw me and called out, “I want to talk to you!” He recognized me as a County Sheriff and thought I outranked the others. “Keep your hands where I can see them”, he said. Perfect I thought, this is just what I want. I start to slowly walk towards the Perp’s position. When I got within 10 feet he began screaming for me to get back. I didn’t back up but I couldn’t close the distance any more. There I stood in the kitchen doorway.

Again I can remember the finest details of what happened next.

Marylou, the hostage, was the mother of the business owner and was well into her 60’s. She had her hands crossed over her heart as the knife pressed against the back of her top hand. Her eyes were filled with fear and terror, all white and red and wide open staring at me. I was sure this was the worst moment of her life. There were injuries to her chest and hands from the constant pressure of the knife tip. The front of her blouse was covered in blood.

The Perp had picked up the knife when he entered the kitchen and took Marylou hostage. It was one of those cheap steak knives, flexible, serrated and slightly rounded at the tip with a black wooden handle. It had been used a thousand times before. It was about to be used for the last time.

“I want a helicopter, the State Police and Channel 7 news here right now.” Perfect, I begin to negotiate. Negotiations are about venting steam and passing time. Out of the corner of my eye I can see a SWAT officer in the kitchen but blocked from view of the Perp or Victim. He was trying to line up a shot. I expect to see the Perp’s head explode any second, Be Cool I think to myself. Pans rattled on the rack, the Perp tensed and began shouting “Get Back – Get Back.” He pressed the knife tip into the back of her crossed hands a little deeper. More blood seeped. More damage done. Closer to the Line.

I stood my ground and asked his name.  He lied and said James. I told him I was working with the bosses to get the helicopter and the news crew but it would take a little time. Marylou continued to stare into my eyes. I had to ignore her as even acknowledging her could only increase her perceived value to him.

“James you gotta be careful with the knife” I said. He wasn’t and continued to get more and more agitated with Marylou because she was trying to push the knife tip from the back of her hands. I can see she is getting more small injuries to her hands as he presses the tip deeper and the blade bent.

I knew I wasn’t getting through to this guy. I couldn’t keep him focused. During my approximate (10) minutes of negotiations I offered to exchange myself for the hostage. He considered but refused. He positioned himself to better be shielded by Marylou’s body. She grows more panicked and desperately fearful. I put my hand behind my back and made a gun signal to the perimeter Cops. I was telling them to shoot this guy if they could. I was signalling that I didn’t think I could save Marylou with words. It would take something more.

The Perp screamed at Marylou “If you don’t quit moving I’m gonna stab you right through your fucking heart.”

Everything I’m about to tell you happened in fractions of seconds.

The Perp stabbed Marylou twice through her hands as they were crossed over her heart, he was trying his best to stab her heart. She push the knife away and he sliced her open. Blood spurted.

I draw my service weapon and closed the distance between us. He sees me, gun in hand, and drops completely behind Marylou. I dive on the pile and ended astride the Perp’s legs and Marylou is gone.

He comes up, knife in hand, and stabs at my heart. I raise my left hand partially deflecting the knife thrust and get stabbed in the back of my hand. The knife skims off and contacts my bulletproof vest and bends. If he had picked a better weapon to begin with I might not be here today.

I could have shot him. I should have shot him.

My 9mm Glock was in my right hand. I brought it with full force into his left temple. I felt bone break and he slouched. I gave him another, just like the first, for good measure. He was bloody and unconscious, the threat was over. Mission accomplished.

I was bloody. The room was bloody. Other Cops hog tie and cuff the Perp. The bosses descend. Ambulances are called and Marylou is transported to the hospital with treatable wounds (She would live longer but always filled with fear. She would never be the same).

I grabbed a couple of paper towels and try to stop the bleeding from the back of my hand.

I can remember thinking how surreal everything seemed and that I should savor the moment.  Time was frozen as I wandered into the front bar lounge. I walked behind the bar and fixed myself a rum and coke and sat in one of the red swivel chairs. Someone drug the Perp by his ankles into the room with me. He was face down bleeding into the beer stained carpet. I quietly hear his gurgled breathing as he tried to find new airways through his newly broken nose.

“Fuck you” I say in his direction.

My First Lieutenant makes the scene and comes into the lounge area where the Perp is still unconscious and bleeding out on the floor. I have a drink and the Lieutenant examines my wound and starts to order up an ambulance for me.

“Fuck that LT. I haven’t taken an ambulance ride in my whole career and I sure as shit ain’t gonna start over this. If you want to order up an ambulance for somebody dickhead over there could probably use one.” I thumb towards the Perp.

The LT rolls the Perp over, says “OH Shit”, grabs his prep and starts ordering an ambulance for the guy that really needed one.

I laugh and finish my drink. I left a five on the bar.

Good Times.

 

 

 

 

© 2015, Michael Fulcher. All rights reserved.