Copyright 2014, Jules A. Staats; Library of Congress, USA. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. This work may be previewed only.
TALES FROM THE DONUT SHOP BY JULES A. STAATS
Insurance: What You Sow, You Reap; bad or good. By Jules A. Staats
Jay was a single young man, twenty-one years old. He had some free time on his hands, and was just walking down Hollywood Boulevard approaching the famed intersection of Hollywood and Vine.
He had grown up on these familiar streets, known as the Hollywood Area. He had graduated from Hollywood High School and attended Los Angeles City College where he studied Police Science. He was no longer in school and was now finally working for a living. He had the day off, and was just doing some shopping on a lazy Southern California weekday afternoon. There was a large chain store on the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street. He was planning to make a minor clothing purchase. You know, some socks, and things like that.
He was just across the street from the store. He shuffled impatiently, waiting for the red signal to turn green. Jay's eyes picked up a Los Angeles Police black and white patrol car driving by as it drove west on Hollywood Blvd.
He recognized the driver of the LAPD unit. Jay previously was working part time as a parking lot attendant. Before becoming a Deputy Sheriff of Los Angeles County, he had met a lot of Los Angeles City police officers while working in the parking lot business. It turned out that many in law enforcement worked at these parking lots to make a few extra dollars. Meeting and working with these men had given him a keen interest in law enforcement.
He briefly pondered why that particular police officer was driving solo in a black and white patrol car. Then, Jay reasoned, it must have been due to the heavy rains, earlier in the day. Ray Dearborne was a long time and good friend. He was used to seeing Ray driving a three wheel motorcycle every day, doing traffic duty and handling parking violations.
Jay mused to himself, "It must be nice to get off that motorcycle seat, for a change. How does he do that job riding that motorcycle every day?"
The traffic signal finally changed, and a mob of people started to cross the street. Jay started to think of some things he wanted to buy at the adjacent department store.
As he crossed the street, he continued to reflect that, of all the persons in his life, Officer Ray Dearborne was the one person he respected the most. Ray was the one person who finally convinced him to become a cop. Ray had also warned Jay, against becoming a Los Angeles City Police Officer at that time. The only valid reason for that viewpoint was the fact that if you ever quit the City, they would keep every dollar of your saved and invested retirement. The County gave you a refund if you quit. No one ever knew for sure if any person could endure police work for twenty years. Saving retirement for all that time, and lose it all, just because you quit? "No way," Jay almost said out loud.
Yes, Jay thought, old Ray was about his Dad's age, but he listened to Ray more than his Dad. Jay's step-father was an undertaker who wanted him to carry out the family work. However, he eventually became a cop instead much to the chagrin of his dad.
He paused at one of the large store windows. A certain suit caught his eye. His eyes wandered throughout the display, while he looked for some new styles and ideas. Some time passed interrupted by the loud sound of an automobile tire skidding behind him.
He looked behind him quickly, always weary of a car losing control and skidding on to the sidewalk. Jay saw the source of the noise. It was Ray, again. Jay saw the right rear wheel was locked up on the speeding patrol car as it made a hard right turn at the intersection. He thought to himself that the brake must be bad, but that the police car was slowing down fast. Jay saw Ray turn the wheel sharply, as he completed a right turn against the red light. The squad car red sealed beam lights were turned on. The lone LAPD officer must be on an emergency call.
The patrol car stopped about forty feet down the street, and Ray got out of the car in a hurry. As the City cop ran to the Plaza Hotel, he was cramming his police cap tightly on his head. Then, Ray turned glanced behind him and stopped his on-foot response.
There was obviously surprised emotion in the officer's eyes. Ray just stood there for a moment. He called out loudly: "Jay, are you still with the Sheriff?"
"Yes." Jay shouted back.
"You got a gun?" Ray barked back.
"I have it." Jay was reminded of the weight of the snub nose .38 Special on the right side of his belt, under his coat. It was Sheriff's Department policy, that all off-duty Deputies shall carry a firearm.
"I need a backup, guy; I have a murder in progress in the hotel." Ray caught his breath, adding, "My backup is a long way off."
Jay had been a Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff for only four months. He had completed his training at the Sheriff's Academy and had been assigned to the Hall of Justice Jail. His only experience on the street was on weekend assignments in the Academy. He had never personally experienced a dangerous situation before. His training included scenarios of contacts with persons with deadly weapons. This was going to be a test of fire, the real thing. Could he do everything he might have to do, and do it right? He reflected that this would be his first instance running toward deadly danger.
As the 47 year old uniformed City cop and 21 year old plain clothes off-duty Deputy stepped into the hotel lobby, the manager yelled, "Up the stairs, somebody is shooting a big gun up there."
Jay saw the wide stairs, leading up to the second floor. It always seemed that the first flight of hotel stairs from the lobby was wide and carpeted. The rest of the stairs were always narrow. Ray immediately started up the stairs, with Jay trailing behind, and slightly to the right.
Then, without warning, the suspect appeared at the top of the stairs. He had a twelve gauge pump type shotgun. The gun barrel had been crudely hacksawed off to make it a shorter weapon. Jay saw the suspect start to move the slide of the deadly weapon back. He was attempting to feed another 12 gauge—about ¾ inch--thick shell into the chamber. If he fired that shotgun, both of them could possibly die.
Jay acted instinctively, pulling his off-duty revolver from the holster, and aiming it at the chest of the suspect at a distance of only nine feet. Jay knew his guns, and he was fast and accurate with a handgun since he was a child. The scene shifted to a slow motion. Jay's mind was slowing down time. That helped.
As carefully as possible, he started to take the shot. He kept the sights lined up, as he started to pull the trigger double action. He saw the slide of the suspect's shotgun continue to move rearward. Only an instant and the shotgun shell would be in the chamber and ready to fire.
Because it was all in slow motion, Ray never seemed to move an inch. However Ray was a well-trained LAPD officer and a seasoned street patrol officer. Due to years of experience he was also reacting, as he attempted to take out his service revolver in self- defense of a deadly threat. However the officer was hampered in this attempt, as the flap type holster--great for bad weather on a three wheel motorcycle--was clumsy to access, with one hand. By the time the LAPD officer drew his gun the situation was over.
Jay felt that this was the time to kill a person while experiencing slow motion. Out of the corner of his eye, Jay saw the cylinder of his own revolver turn, very slowly, as the hammer came back. The hammer on his revolver was only a whisker away from dropping on the bullet that was now aimed at the heart of the armed suspect.
Due to the slow motion felt experience he actually had enough relative time to identify the deadly threat, all the while taking the shot and observing the cylinder of his gun was rotating. Jay’s brain presented a thought process based on observation of the threat that had to be shot at and neutralized. His observation provided an instantaneous revelation: The suspect is a child! This person who is trying to fire on two law enforcement officers is only about fourteen years old! A kid!
The hammer of the gun would fall in another scant millisecond.
The intense and deadly pressure of the situation also played on the thought processes on the youth holding the sawed-off shotgun. The man who was not in uniform had a weapon aimed at him. The intense look of the young cop was unmistakable; that man was in the process of firing his gun and would certainly kill him. This never before experienced occurrence of a tense combat type situation had now greatly intimidated the youngster. The thought of deadly combat had caused him to rush the reloading motions of the Remington #850 shotgun. As a result, he did not operate the slide of the shotgun fully and forcefully. In the process, he bent the new shell that was destined to be chambered and fired. He was then completely overwhelmed by the intense pressure of deadly force in front of him so he let go of the shotgun and let it drop to the floor while he turned to run.
The shotgun hit the floor, and bounced down the stairs, between the feet of the LAPD officer and the off duty Deputy. Jay had been trained and strongly advised to observe preclusion—reduction or ending of a deadly threat--which terminated his necessity of taking the deadly shot. He released his pressure on the trigger allowing the hammer to return to the safety block on the revolver. Ray ran after the kid, who was now unarmed.
The boy ran down the hall to their right, like a rabbit. Ray and Jay were losing ground, and were not catching up.
There was an open fire escape window at the end of the hall. The youth dived head first, out the second floor window, did a somersault flip and went over the fire escape guard rail. There was hard concrete below.
At the last instant, the youth caught the railing, before he fell from the fire escape platform. He swung over to the vertical ladder, to the side of the fire escape landing. The ladder dropped with his weight. In seconds, he was past the swimming pool, and out the back gate. He escaped for the moment, but he would be caught later.
As LAPD backup units still raced Code 2 to arrive at the scene, Ray and Jay were now backtracking to where the actual shooting first occurred.
It took only a minute to find the shooting victim. A bald man in his early sixties was holding the right side of his face. His right ear had been completely shot off, and blood was cascading down his bathrobe. The extent of injuries was limited to the loss of his right ear and this victim, would survive the shotgun blast.
As it turned out, the so-called victim was an alleged killer and hit man. He was a known member of an organized crime element in the Los Angeles area. The so-called victim had also allegedly caused the shooting death by execution of the boy's father only a few weeks before. There were no arrests of the person or persons responsible for this killing. The boy then sawed off about ten inches of the barrel of his dead father's shotgun and came to the hotel, to seek revenge.
There was a very important fact, revealed in the investigation that followed. Had Jay not aimed his weapon at the suspect, the fourteen year old boy would have not experienced the extreme and deadly pressure of having a live weapon pointed at him. He subsequently stated to Detectives that he keenly did see the cylinder of the gun turning as the shot was about to end his life. Had Jay not been there, the juvenile would probably have had the opportunity to kill Ray, the veteran LAPD Police Officer in cold blood.
In the years that followed, the LAPD Officer Ray retold this story many times, always including in his tale how ironic it was; That by merely talking a young friend into being a cop, his life was to be saved by that cop who just happened to be standing next to the location of the incident when he dearly needed immediate armed backup.