So one day, I'm just tooling along through the neighborhoods when I see this white Ford Escort with a messed up left front fender pass me going the other way. The driver gives me that "Oh-shit-it's-the-police" look as we pass, so I know instantly that he's guilty of something even though I have no idea what it is. I bang a U-turn to begin following him with the hope that I can find a lawful reason to stop him, but he makes it easy for me by punching the gas and trying to jack-rabbit away.
Dude--you've got a Ford Escort and I've got a Crown Vic Police Interceptor. Come on...
I hit the lights and siren and of course he refuses to stop. I put the pursuit out on my radio, but no sooner do I get the words out than he skids to a stop in front of an apartment building and bails out. I slide to a stop and go out after him, but he gets to the building door ahead of me and runs inside. I'm slowed down a bit by my need to quick-peek the doorway and subsequent corners, and he gets up the stairs and into one of the apartments on the third floor before I can make it up there. I have no idea which unit he's in, and of course I can't expect any of his friends and neighbors to rat him out. OK, fine. But I still have his car downstairs. I go back down, and when my back-up arrives, I toss the car to find the name of the owner and discover a bag of weed in the center console. Turns out that the car is unregistered and the tags are expired and belong on another car. (Big shock in this neighborhood...) At least I got the guy's dope, and I'll impound the car, which means that someone is going to have to pony up some cash and ownership documents to get it back from the tow yard or forfeit the car altogether. Other than the fender and the typically filthy interior, it's not really a bad car.
So as I wait on the impound tow truck, knucklehead starts yelling at me out the window, taunting me for being slow. He quits laughing when I yell back that I'm taking his car.
A few minutes pass, and then a woman walks out of the building and tells me that the car's driver is her baby's daddy and that all of her tax documents are in the car and she needs those to get her tax refund. She wants to get them out. I tell her that I'm not letting her or anyone else take anything out of the car, but that if he wants to come down and surrender himself, I'll leave the car here instead of impounding it.
"Oh, he not gonna do that," she replies.
"Tough break," I say. "That's the only way I let this car or anything in it go."
She goes back inside. A minute later, he starts cussing me out of the window. Unfortunately I can't tell which window. Oh well. I take another look in the car and sure enough, there's an envelope inside with filled-out income tax forms and documents. At least I know who she is and her apartment number now. But I still don't know his name and I won't be able to get a warrant for her apartment with what I've got, especially since all the charges at this point are traffic violations.
I wait some more. Then a large woman walks up to me and tells me that the Escort is her son's car. She says that he's not a bad boy and that he's actually trying to do right and provide for his babies (I note the plural) and that he has a job that he was just coming back from. She says that he really needs the car and that he was just scared because his driver's license "might" be suspended (I'd be surprised if it wasn't) and she begs me to just leave him and the car be. I ask her what his name is and where he's at, and of course she says that she can't tell me that. I tell her to have a nice day and to let him know that he can get the car back from the impound yard if he shows up there with a valid registration and the towing and storage fees. I also wish like hell that this city would require a valid driver's license before releasing an impounded car like so many other cities do, but they don't and the hood rats all know it which is why many of these cars go through cycles of being impounded by the police and redeemed by the same owners who don't have drivers' licenses and probably never will. Once they get a few hundred dollars in fines, it's really not cost-effective to pay them as the fine for driving without a license here is minimal and can be paid at the police station without even having to show up in court.
Big Mama steps away and goes to sit on the stoop, where she is joined by other people--friends, relatives, or whoever--all of whom take to pleading with me over and over to just let him and the car go. Meanwhile he's still sporadically cursing me out the window, so I tell his mother that the more he does that, the less charitable I feel towards him. So she stands up, walks out to the sidewalk, looks up at the building, and hollers: "Eugene! You stop that right now! You making it worse!"
Eugene yells back. "Dammit Mama, you just told him my name!"
I have to laugh. Real rocket scientists, this bunch.
I call up to Eugene and tell him to just come down and take the arrest like a man and quit putting all of these women to so much trouble. He curses me again and tells me not to be putting his business out in front of everybody. I respond by shouting back and asking him what he's going to do about it. Come down here, maybe?
He curses again but says nothing more until the tow truck arrives. At this time, nearly a dozen people are standing there with Big Mama and Baby's Mama, imploring me not to take the car. Kind of touching, all of this concern for a knucklehead, but not nearly touching enough. The car goes away and we all clear.
I have my scheduled days off, and when I get back to work early the next week, I check with the tow yard, and sure enough, Eugene or someone on his behalf showed up and redeemed the car. It cost them about $400.00 but they got it back. Of course I still have no last name for Eugene, but I know where he's staying, what he drives, and more than likely, what time he gets home from whatever job he has. So I go back out there a little before the time that I saw him last week and I and a back-up officer just sit in a parking lot near where I first saw him driving and we wait.
Sure enough, there goes that same white Escort with the messed-up front fender, and the same knucklehead is driving. He sees us right about the time that we're shifting our cruisers into "Drive" and he takes off again. We go after him, and it's clear that he's going to try the same trick. He races right back to the same apartment building and skids to a stop in front of it, just like he did the last time, but I'm closer now, and when he throws open his door to bail out, it just hits my bumper as I slide to a stop next to him, leaving him with no way to get out of the left side of his car. He jumps across and tries to go out the passenger side but we're on him and this time, Eugene gets grabbed and taken off to jail.
And for good measure, I impound his car again.
I charge him with everything that I can hang on him for today's dumb stunt--Operating Without a License, Operating Without Insurance, Unregistered Auto, Fleeing to Elude (at this time, only a misdemeanor in that city) etc., and I get warrants for him for the same charges based on the preceding week and serve those on him too before we let him go. I also hang a Possession of MJ charge on him, but as expected, the city attorney ash-canned that one since I didn't take it off him and because the car that I found it in wasn't registered to him. Eugene spent the night in jail and was released the next day pending his court appearance.
OK, now I felt like we were at least even, but we have a thing here for making sure that the community understands that it's not a good idea for individuals to try to punk us. Come Saturday afternoon, I head back over to that area and sit and wait again. Like clockwork, there goes Eugene in that Escort again. Since I already know that his license is suspended, I go after him. This time he stops his car on the left side of the street so I can't block his door, and he bails out again. So I run my cruiser up over the curb and use it to cut him off from the building's door, and I jump out and tackle him. Once more, Eugene's off to jail, and his car's off to impound. And this time, since he's already got an open case and is out on supervised release, his getting re-arrested on new charges means that he has to sit in jail until his public defender can get a pre-trial release hearing for him, and that usually takes a few weeks. Plus I impounded his car yet again.
A month or so passed, and I'd not thought about Eugene much, but then one afternoon I happened to be driving through that neighborhood again and coming up the road towards me was that White Escort again...and Eugene was driving it!
I stopped, waiting for him to pass so I could U-turn on him and chase him back to his building again, but this time Eugene just pulled over to the curb, parked his car, and stuck his hands out the window.
"I'm tired of this, Officer Krupke," he said, "I ain't even gonna run no more!"
I was so proud of Eugene for learning his lesson that this time when I arrested him again, I didn't even impound his car.
Eventually all of the charges that I'd laid on Eugene from these four encounters got him probation, a heap of community service, a year in jail--suspended of course--and a promise from the judge that if he got arrested again, he'd do the whole year. I gave myself two weeks to nail him again and make that come true, but Eugene either moved away or sold the Escort because I never saw him or that little white Ford again. But at least he was good for four arrests in my stat book and hopefully served as an object lesson to his neighbors. Moral of the story: If you're going to run from the police, don't just try to run home, and once the police have your number and know that you're suspended, it's probably not a good idea to keep driving the same distinctive car down the same roads at the same time every day.
'Twas the Night Before Christmas.... Again....
3 weeks ago