“Three-george-72, 3-George-2, 3-George-33… caller reports an unknown male running up and down her apartment building hallway screaming about the Devil. Subject is bloody and attempting to force his way into her apartment. Caller has barricaded herself in her bedroom with three small children and two adult family members.”
Deep breath, OK, here we go. That could be a psychotic episode? Excited delirium? OK, 3-George-2 and 3-George-33 are meat-eaters, we’ve got a solid team going in. What if he gets in before we get there? Do they have any weapons in the apartment? Why’s dude bloody?
Lights and sirens on, my partner Corey and I were 2 minutes out.
We all arrived almost simultaneously, and another unit who was free self-initiated to respond as well. We formed a hasty plan and established roles. Who’s first in? How many Taser officers do we have? Who’s got the best mule kick to boot the door if necessary?
Once inside the apartment building, we quickly realized that it was new, solidly built construction, and our portables wouldn’t broadcast well through all the concrete. Once on the 18th floor, we peeled out and made our way to the apartment in question, often checking our backs to make sure bloody Devil-screaming dude didn’t pop out on us from behind.
A garbled radio transmission from
Radio squawked through our earpieces: “George Uni… caller says… insi… locked in bedroom… won’t let them lea…”
Dammit, somehow he got in. Let’s go guys, let’s go, let’s go…
We knew we had gotten to the correct apartment when we heard a low, guttural growling and the scared, muffled voices of a woman and several children coming from within. OK, animal noises, grunting, keening utterances… yeah, most likely excited delirium, probably someone’s dusted on “wet” or PCP. Let’s go.
“Police! Police! Open the door! Open the door!” The exigency of the situation and threat of harm to innocents dictated our next move. Just as Anthony got ready to boot the door, it opened up about 6 inches. Here he was, sweat and blood streaming in rivulets down his face and chest. Scratches all over his face, chest, and abdomen. He was breathing heavily, eyes wide, looking right through us.
“I’m on fire! I’m on fire! He’s trying to burn me! I’m burning!”
“Back up! Back up! Open the door,” Fitz yelled, and the man tried to slam the door on us. We all surged forward as one, not wanting to give him the opportunity to barricade himself inside, my thoughts immediately to the young children I could hear screaming from further inside the apartment.
It took all five of us to force the door open, and we all tumbled forward, grasping and striving to gain hold of the wet, bloody, and slippery suspect before he could have a chance to gain distance and re-orient himself on any one of us.
We brought the man down to the ground by force of numbers, and I ended up at his head. Where the head goes, the body follows, so I pinned the suspect’s head to the ground by posting up on him. I pressed
down on his head with both hands directly under my shoulders, bringing what little weight I possessed fully to bear. My partners each went for a limb and we had five points of contact on him. The man forced his arms inward, and pushed himself into an upright pushup position. No way. No freaking way.
The thing about suspects who are high on PCP, or “sherm”, is that they can exhibit superhuman strength and an incredible tolerance for, and indifference to, pain. This was a prime example of such. We all instinctively knew this could end up being a deadly force situation with six innocents in immediate proximity to the fight, and at least five of us (the officers) all had firearms in play.
I heard Fitz yell, “Taser, Taser, Taser,” and he fired a contact shot mid-back to the suspect, then dragged the Taser down and made secondary contact to the suspect’s right leg in an attempt to achieve Neuromuscular Incapacitation (NMI). The trained tactic worked, and the suspect locked up in full NMI long enough for us to bring him back down flat to the ground with limbs extended.
As soon as the 5-second cycle was up, the suspect immediately regained control of his body and began to wrestle his way back up again. Fitz initiated a second Taser application and we were able to get the guy into cuffs. I rolled the suspect to his side into a recovery position and kept him fixed; he had ceased to fight at this point in time.
Based on our training and experience, our focus immediately shifted to caregiving; I monitored the suspect, gave him some water, and monitored his vitals. From experience we’ve learned it’s at this time, after extreme exertion and with unknown drugs onboard, that it’s a critical interval for the survivability of suspects possibly in the throes of excited delirium. We now treated him as a person undergoing a medical emergency. A team of medics, who had pre-staged outside, immediately responded with a gurney and took over medical monitoring.
The other officers checked on the wellbeing and safety of the residents of the apartment. To our relief, all were unhurt and gave us fantastic statements.
The suspect was taken to the hospital under guard, and we all made our way back to the lobby. I was able to make contact with the suspect’s father, a clinical counselor with a Masters in social work, who responded to the scene. “He doesn’t do drugs... maybe he smoked marijuana when he was a teenager, but he’s a good boy. I don’t understand why you guys had to wrestle with him and send him to the hospital. You should just let me take him home.”
I refrained from reminding the father of the innocent lives his son put in danger, or the potential for injury he exposed himself, me, and my fellow officers to. Some battles simply aren’t worth fighting. I gave him my business card, directions to the hospital, and wished him well.
We debriefed, a supervisor arrived on scene to screen the incident, and we began to make our way back to the precinct for paperwork, statements, and subsequent use-of-force reports. Fortunately for us, we’d had a plan, established roles, and were able to flow with the scene as it presented itself. Trained responses won the day, and we all came away unhurt from the encounter.
While heading back to the precinct, Radio broadcasted again with tones, those three beeps that immediately spark an adrenaline spike, for a priority call…
“Shots fired, shots fired, caller reports man down behind a bar, possible gunshot wound to the head, single shot heard, nothing further.”
Deep breath... OK, here we go.