(Read “Shots Fired, Officer Down!” parts one and two before proceeding)
It was the night after Officer Ross got shot and I was seated in the briefing room of the police department. At the beginning of the shift, the off-going Sergeant would come to the briefing room and fill in the on-coming shift on the day’s events….a swapping of information essential to patrolling the streets. Quite often, some of the evening shift officers would hang around and it would become a major bull-shit session too.
This night was no different, the evening shift had arrested a volatile thief..there had been a fight involving 3 officers in the booking room of the jail. We were told to keep a close eye on him, they had already removed his mattress from the cell …and made him remove his belt and shoe-laces. I actually had worked two suicides in the jail since I began at this department….even with video monitors, it sometimes happened. Where there was a will…there was a way.
The subject of the shooting was a hot topic…we had never had an officer shot at this suburban police department. Comments and barbs were made, in good nature, about the TV news story…and the fact that Ross got shot in the ass.
But there was one officer that zeroed in on my participation and actions regarding the previous night. I had always sensed that he had a problem with women officers. I think it infuriated him that this big event had happened on my watch….and I had handled it well.
The radio recording of the events had been passed around the department all that day…everyone had heard the drama unfold…from my checking out at the tire store until the bitter end. Civilian employees and officers alike had patted me on the back that day and congratulated me on a good job…..all but this officer…his name was O’Riley.
There he sat in the briefing room, leaning back in his chair, his combat boots resting on the table before him. O’Riley was a tall, thin red-head…he always kept his uniform perfectly creased and pressed. He looked like a Irish cop right out of central casting…..with an accompanying brusque behavior.
No compliment came from his lips….he began to mock me in front of two shifts of officers. I sat across the room and watched as his laughter grew louder and he gesticulated wildly with his arms. O’Riley was talking about the pitch of my voice…..how it went up a couple of octaves when I arrived at the scene of the shooting.
O’Riley was told to simmer down by the Sergeant, but he continued…he did a crude imitation of me, talking very high and repeating my commands to the ambulance and my back-up…the very commands that had saved Ross’ life just over 24 hours earlier. He didn’t care to notice, that no one in the room, save his best buddy, was sharing in his sardonic laugh and verbal attack.
After the shooting, I had gone home and slept for a few hours. After a big rush of adrenalin, comes the crash….and I did just that on my sofa.
Upon waking, I joined some other officers and we went to visit Ross at the hospital. Dinner followed..then another short rest…then I found myself back at the briefing room. Here I was…watching a red-headed, chauvinistic buffoon belittling me in front of my peers.
I hadn’t cried the night before…..I hadn’t screamed in an emotional release. I had pushed down anger, fear, and excitement…suppressing all in my attempt to be a good cop…to be professional. To do the job better than any man would have done it….to avoid the very thing I found myself witnessing. I could take not one more moment of this idiot’s rant!!
I rose slowly from my chair….walked over to O’Riley….picked up the only thing on the table besides his size 12s…..a full can of Dr. Pepper.
I popped the top…..and poured the entire contents over his red hair…sent it cascading down his starched uniform…all over his leather duty belt…until it puddled right at his crotch area!
O’Riley did not move an inch…he sat perfectly still as I drained the entire soft drink all over him! It did stop his mouth though….he uttered not another single syllable. He stood up….and walked back to the locker room alone. You could have heard a pin drop in that briefing room….good grief, two Sergeants had witnessed my assault on O’Riley.
When you are the only woman in the department and you do such a thing…well, let me tell you…..I have never shut up 14 men at one time again in my life! They all stared at me with funny shit-eating grins on their faces, as I collected my stuff and went out on patrol.
I had to give my Sergeant a written statement about what I did…and he wrote up a report, complete with witness accounts. The Chief called me to his office the next day…..I sat down directly across from him, ready for my punishment.
The Chief smiled and ever so slowly grabbed a Coke that was on his desk and placed it on the floor behind him…out of my reach. His opening statement was, “O’Riley is a prick and got what was coming to him!” “Walk out of here like I scolded you and go home to get some rest!” As I was about to shut the Chief’s door…he said one last thing to me…..something I have never forgotten. “You are the only woman at this department because when I hired you…I knew you would be a fantastic officer, regardless of gender, and the night before last, you proved me right.”
Recently I was in court in a county south of Fort Worth. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw O’Riley walking around the district attorney’s office! He was now an investigator for this particular county, assigned to the very court where I was standing. He and I exchanged awkward pleasantries…then I went to the back of the court to hang out with other defense attorneys. O’Riley had never spoken to me about the Dr. Pepper after that night….not a word. We continued to work together..but the subject was never addressed.
At the back of courtrooms you will find defense attorneys gathered about, shooting the bull….very similar to police briefing rooms. The other defense attorneys were talking about O’Riley…he was difficult to deal with and very surly. They relayed to me that he required a lot of information to just get a copy of your client’s DWI tape and often kicked back requests that had minor errors. I felt compelled to tell them the story of my assault and we all agreed O’Riley had a twenty year tenure as a prick.
What can I say, I am now beloved by all defense attorneys in that county. I meet someone new every time I go down there and they have all heard about the cascading soda…the prosecutors even treat me better now!
I think O’Riley knows that I shared the story with my fellow defense attorneys. Every time he rejects a request for a DWI videotape because of a typo or other minor errors…he finds a Dr. Pepper sitting on his desk the next day.