© 2000 Chuck Klein, Woodlawn, Ohio P.D. 1972

Excerpted from: LINES OF DEFENSE, Police Ideology and the Constitution, IPTM, 2000, ISBN: 1-884566-40-5 Lines of Defense
Also excerpted from: AMERICAN BLUE, Real Stories by Real Cops, VARRO PRESS, 2011, ISBN; 978-1-888-644-97-5
                                      THE BADGE, Stories and Tales from Both Sides of the Law, BEACHHOUSE PRESS, 2011, ISBN: 978-1-59630-071-2
                                      THE BEST OF CHUCK KLEIN, SCIENCE & HUMANITIES PRESS, 2013, ISBN: 9781596300866 

"Four-six-eight. Car 4-6-8, person injured, Woodlawn Food Market, Marion and Wayne. 4-6-8."

"Four-six-eight, okay," I responded to the dispatcher's detail.

The time was late afternoon in our small community just outside the city of Cincinnati. It had been a very quiet Saturday afternoon - one of those lazy spring days when cops do more waving and smiling than anything else. I turned my cruiser around, swung into traffic, and headed toward the food market.

Almost simultaneously my partner, 4-6-9, and I arrived to face a group of bystanders, some with coats, others in jackets and still others in shirt sleeves. It was that kind of day. In the morning it had been downright cold, but by mid-afternoon it was almost hot whenever those windows of ever- shifting and towering cumulus clouds parted enough to let the sun burn through.

"He's walking up there, on Wayne," one of the women in the crowd shouted, before we could even get out of our cars.

Off we drove, not knowing who or what we're looking for. About a quarter mile away on this tree lined, narrow, two-lane road we came across a man carrying a coat and walking away from us. He had a nasty gash on the back of his head and blood had stained his shirt collar. We hit the roof lights to warn traffic and got out to talk to him.

"What happened?" I asked.

"He hit me with a bottle, almost killed me."

"Who hit you?"

"The man back there at the store. He stole my money and hit me in the head."

"Is he still there," I asked becoming embarrassed that one of us should have stayed at the store to begin the investigation.

"Yeah, he's still there."

"Do you want me to call the life squad?"

"No, no. I ain't going to no hospital."

My partner, sensing the back-up of traffic and realizing someone has to return to the store to investigate a possible armed robbery took control.

"Officer Klein, why don't you take the gentleman back to the station for a statement and I'll return to the scene of the crime."

The heavy set man, about 50 years old, and still clutching what appeared to be a thick winter coat, reluctantly made himself comfortable in the front seat of my car. During the five minute ride to the station, and after advising the dispatcher of the situation, I made small talk trying to learn more about my passenger. Said he was retired, though he didn't look that old, and was living with his daughter in Lincoln Heights, an adjacent suburb.

Pulling into the station lot the radio broke squelch. I recognized my partner's identification as he broadcast, "Four-six-eight your signal 22 is a signal 30. Four-eight-four, signal 2, code 2 our office - assist 4-6-8."

My partner had told me the injured person (signal 22) was a wanted person (signal 30) and that it was serious enough that he was requesting assistance from another community! In retrospect, I guess I should have waited for the back-up to arrive. But hey, I was young and tough and besides the perp was already getting out of the scout car when the call came in.

Since he was much bigger than me and he wasn't aware of his new status, I thought it might be better if we went inside. Entering the deserted squad room of the 1950's era police station, I ushered the perp to a chair on  the pretext of wanting to apply first aid to his scalp wound, all the while assuring him that we'd get the guy that attacked him.

THE BADGEOnce seated I knew the tactical advantage was mine. I reached for his coat that was now crumpled and lying on his lap while saying, "Let me take this. It will make you more comfortable, sir." As I pulled at the heavy wool material, I could now see the man's hand was wrapped around a revolver.

Instinctively I grabbed at it, he shoved at me with is left arm, my mind slipped into tachyinterval, the time deception phenomena, where, during extreme stress things appear to happen in slow motion. They don't, of course, but because the mind can digest so much more information than the body can react to in the same time frame, it seems like the body is acting in slow motion.

I could see my hand going for the perp's gun as the barrel slowly rotated toward me. I was trying to balance myself for the thrust of the perp's free elbow all the while my right hand raced to get at my service revolver. At the same time I was aware that my mind was screaming, why is it taking so long. My right hand clawed at the security strap on the Jordan holster, I seized the custom gripped three-fifty-seven, again wondering why was it taking such an inordinate amount of time to clear leather. I heard my voice hollering, "LET GO! LET GO! LET GO!" I had what I hoped was a death grip on the gun-in-the-coat. The man was strong, I wasn't gaining an advantage, my Smith & Wesson started toward his throat, trigger finger tightening. The pending explosion of one or both weapons was imminent.

"LET GO! LET GO!" I knew as soon as my Model 19 reached battery it was going off. The magnum slammed into the perp's neck, my souped up mind was telling my unreasonably slow trigger finger: pull, pull, pull.

The man relaxed, his gun hand released, he stopped shoving...and in that nano-second, through my mind flashed: kill him, he tried to kill you, they'll make you a hero, blow him away, kill him. But over-riding this subconscious speed-of-light musing was a deeper inner articulation: American police officer, fair play, the rule of law, the right thing to do.

By the time I had the assaulting weapon secured and was ordering the perp to lie face down on the floor the backup had arrived. We searched and cuffed him and threw him in the holding cell. My partner walked in as I began telling the sequence of events.  He picked up the signal 30's revolver, opened it, looked at the loaded cylinder and said as he showed it to me, "you're a lucky guy." The primer that had been under the hammer was dented - it had been struck by the firing pin.

The man had pulled the trigger in an attempt to shoot me. But, because either the coat or my hand had impaired the fall of the hammer, it was a few ounces shy of striking hard enough to cause detonation. I think it was then my knees got a little weak and angry thoughts of how this dirt bag had tried to kill me raced through my mind. This was followed by anger at myself for not blowing him away when I had the chance. If I had put the scum two-seven, I would be hailed a hero for taking a potential cop-killer off the streets and for surviving, for all intents and purposes, a firefight.

Turns out the perp, a walk-away from a mental hospital, had tried to steal goods from the food market and when confronted by the store owner, pulled the revolver on him. The proprietor, in self-defense, grabbed a pop bottle and hit the perp on the head. The store owner yelled for someone to call the police. A customer, who had only seen a bleeding man walking out of the store, called to report what she'd observed, merely, an "injured man." There were no newspaper reports of the incident - like confrontations happen to police officers every day. My scrapbook doesn't contain any commendations of heroism, but I know, inside myself, I did the right thing and that's hero enough.