As I’ve said before, during my days publishing small town newspapers I always enjoyed a good relationship with the local law enforcement community. At least for the most part. There was one exception that I will talk about some other time. Sometimes this resulted in some wild adventures.
I was doing a ride along with a deputy from the Sheriff’s Department in Grays Harbor County, Washington, once when a chase came over the radio. We were on State Highway 109, about six miles from Ocean Shores, and the license plate of the fleeing vehicle came back to a man with an address in that town. It sounded like he was heading our way, and as they got closer, the deputy I was with parked on the shoulder of the road and told me to get out of the car and stand well off to the side while he deployed stop sticks. If you are not familiar with stop sticks, they are a linked device that is thrown across the road with something akin to nails in them that are designed to perforate a fleeing vehicle’s tires.
A mile behind us, the Ocean Shores Police Department had blocked the road to oncoming traffic. Sure enough, within just a couple of minutes, we could hear the sound of sirens, and they were getting closer. As the vehicle, a beat up old Ford station wagon as I recall, approached, the deputy I was with deployed the stop sticks and managed to perforate three of the four tires. The car sped on for a short distance, maybe 25 yards or so, but then he lost control and spun out.
What happened next, I can only describe as being a pure example of dumb crooks. I don’t know if he was disoriented or what, but the driver of the car jumped out, and instead of running off into the thick forest on either side road, he ran towards the approaching deputies’ vehicles. So much so that it wasn’t until they stopped near us and starting jumping out that he finally took to the woods, almost running me over.
If you have never been in that part of the Pacific Northwest, at the foot of the Olympic Peninsula, the forest is incredibly dense. If Bigfoot really does exist, there is a reason he lives there and has never been caught. Deputies searched for the man, even brought out a K-9 out, be he was long gone. No problem, they went to his house and arrested him there a few hours later.
The deputy took a statement from me since I was on the scene, and a few months later, when the man went to trial, I was subpoenaed to appear. The prosecutor made his case, talking about how the defendant had been seen leaving a tavern in Hoquiam, and how he was seen staggering across the parking lot to his car. About how a Hoquiam police officer had tried to stop him and he had fled, and then sheriff’s deputies joined in the chase. The prosecutor talked about how he had endangered other traffic, sometimes driving on the left side of the road, forcing oncoming cars to get onto the narrow shoulder to avoid a collision. Then he talked about the deployment of the stop sticks, his flight into the woods, and his subsequent arrest. The different deputies involved in the case gave their testimony, and when I was asked to come to the witness stand, I testified to what I had seen.
After the prosecution rested, it was the defense’s turn. The gentleman insisted that he had only had two drinks and wasn’t intoxicated and that he had no idea the police were chasing him for twenty miles. He never almost ran other cars off the road, and there were no stop sticks. He had been driving at a normal speed when suddenly his tires all went flat, so he got out of the car and walked home. He did not run away, and he never saw any of the police and their vehicles, and that was it. As far as he was concerned, none of it had ever happened.
On cross-examination, the prosecutor asked him if he didn’t remember seeing all those police cars behind.
No, he didn’t, because it never happened.
He didn’t remember jumping out of his car and escaping into the woods?
No, that never happened.
He didn’t remember all the police officers shouting for him to stop and put his hands in the air?
No, he didn’t, because it never happened.
Then all of those police officers who had testified about what he had done were lying?
Yes, they were.
Then the prosecutor asked, “So, all of these officers perjured themselves and risked their careers and possible jail time just to frame you?
“Any cop who says I was there is lying,” the guy said. “It was dark, and the only one close enough to see me was that guy,” he said, pointing at me “and he ain’t no cop. I know the law. Only a cop can testify against me in a criminal case. Civilians can only testify in civil cases. That’s why they call them civil cases.”
Everybody in the courtroom started laughing, even the defense attorney. When the judge finally got control of the courtroom again, the case drew to a close, and the judge found the defendant guilty of all of the charges against him.
“This ain’t fair,” he said. “How can you do that when none of those cops saw me?”
I guess the judge couldn’t help it because he asked, “Are you really that dumb?”
Apparently, he was. Go figure.
Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Dog’s Run, my mystery set in a small Ohio town in 1951. I have 33 mystery novels out, as well as 10 nonfiction books, and I have to say that Dog’s Run is my favorite. It’s a gritty tale that is loosely based upon an actual crime that took place in that part of the country when my father was a young police officer there, and I warn you in advance that there’s some rough language, but it’s appropriate to the time and place. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.
Thought For The Day – Never test how deep the water is with both feet.