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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.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.



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Road Rage; Armed and Dangerous:


Still in the wrong place at the right time



          Jay was just driving home.  The sun had dropped below the mountains, over two hours ago.  There was not a hint of light, this late in November.  He was driving his Chevy pickup truck home after working an eight hour shift and four hours of overtime.


          He now worked for the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Department as an “Extra Deputy Sheriff.”  The job was paid by the hour as needed to assist the regular deputies in transportation of prisoners.  He had been sworn in as a Law Enforcement officer and was issued full gear including a S&W 357 Magnum revolver.


          As the pickup made its way down the portion of California highway 101 known as "Blood Alley" he longed for the days with more daylight.  He hated to get home after dark and hee felt that he was missing a part of his life, when he got home at such late hours.  He reflected, oh well, it helps to pay some of the extra bills.  Working extra hours had become necessary, and he found that he was working overtime often.


          To save a few minutes, Jay did not change in and out of uniform at the Sheriff's Department, at the downtown Jail.  By not going through the clothes changing routine, he saved maybe, twenty to thirty minutes a day.  All this helped, when being home is so precious.  While driving to and from work he wore a jacket or cover shirt to cover his badge and uniform patches.


          Only ten minutes more, and he would be home in Morgan Hill.  The thirty minute commute from San Jose was routine.  Still, he always was glad when the trip was over and he was back with his family.


          Jay was going about sixty miles per hour.  He was driving ten miles over the speed limit, but others were passing him on the left of the two lane divided highway.  He wondered for a moment, what the drivers would do if his truck was a patrol car, instead.  Oh well, let them speed as he was off duty and really could not care less.  Passing drivers never knew they were going by a uniformed Deputy Sheriff as a light windbreaker once again completely concealed his Sheriff's uniform.


          Another car passed him on his left.  Suddenly, the car, a maroon mid-sized Mercury cut right and turned sharply against his left front fender.  He stabbed the brakes sharply and watched the right rear fender of the other car almost touch his truck.


          The other driver then hit his brakes, too.  He was trying to force him off the road.  Jay hit the brakes even harder.  As the tires complained of almost skidding on the pavement, he expertly moved over to the three foot wide right shoulder.  He was very aware of the six foot drainage ditch just past the paved shoulder.  He maneuvered to within an inch or so of the ditch.  He was not about to go off the road.


          The driver of the maroon Mercury was in front of him, now, and was apparently was through with his vehicle assault toward the off-duty deputy sheriff.  The other driver continued back to the left passing lane, going around another slower yellow Toyota, ahead.


          Much to Jay's surprise, the Mercury swerved right into the yellow car, almost colliding.  The driver panicked, and swerved to the right.  The car tipped into the ditch ending up almost on its side.  The maroon car continued, forcing two more cars over, in order.  One got stopped in the shoulder.  The second car also ended up in the drainage ditch.


          Jay was concerned and understandably angry at the actions of this road rage driver toward innocent people.  This man had no respect for life and property.  He was actually committing an assault with a deadly weapon—his vehicle--forcing cars off the road.  There was no doubt that if this continued he was going to hurt someone, maybe worse.  Still, there was not much he could do.  He had no radio, and his private pickup truck was definitely not equipped to pull over vehicle code violators.


          He had another idea.  Jay reached down below the dash, flipping on the off-road lights, he used when he drove his four wheel drive truck off the main highways at night.  The brilliant two 100 watt aircraft landing lights came on, instantly.  The lights were almost blue white, as they lit up the back of the offending car.


          As Jay dazzled the driver with his lights, he noticed that he was just coming into the Morgan Hill city limits which was about, twenty miles south of San Jose.  There was a parking lot for a 24 hour diner on the right.


          The driver ahead was obviously very irritated by the extremely bright lights behind him.  He thrust his left fist out, extending his middle finger in a gesture that means contempt.


          Good, Jay thought, the guy is paying attention.  Jay flipped the switch off and back on a few times, hoping to get even more of this driver’s attention.  The constant flashing of the aircraft landing lights worked.  The driver of the Mercury swerved to the right into the parking lot.  The suspecte came to a rapid stop, but still managed to hit a trash dumpster with his car.  The driver got out of the vehicle waiving his fists in the air.


          Jay pulled behind him, leaving his bright lights on.  He knew that the driver had committed multiple felonies, punishable in the California state prison, by using his car as a deadly weapon to force drivers off the road.  Jay ripped off his cover jacket so that the suspect could realize that he was facing a uniformed deputy sheriff.  Since the suspect had no weapons in his hands, Jay reached for his PR-24 nightstick.


          This driver suspect was a thirty-five year old white man.  His hair was mussed, and he was obviously very drunk.  Jay had a .357 revolver in his duty holster but he did not draw it as he did not see a weapon.  The so-called nightstick, a PR 24 would do the job, for the present.


          The driver of the Mercury was completely outraged, and totally out of control.  He ignored the fact that he was facing a fully uniformed and armed Sheriff's Deputy.  He let out a throaty growl, and charged forward, intent in physically attacking the deputy.  Jay easily moved aside and humorously smiled as the drunken man ran by him and fell to his knees. 


          The driver tried a rushing again.  This time, Jay let the PR-24 swing, and aimed the striking point at the left elbow.  The fiberglass nightstick made a sharp cracking sound, as the police defensive weapon found a bone to impact.


          Another expert swing and the T-handle stick had hit the side of the suspect's knee.  The drunken driver of the Mercury now felt intense pain as a result of the blow.  He hesitated while considering yet another  counter-attack on the deputy.


          Using the opportunity, Jay stepped in, grabbing his suspect by the right shoulder, using leverage to force him over the hood of the Mercury.  The driver's face was then mashed into the hood of his car and he was handcuffed in mere seconds.  Great, Jay thought, what do I do with him, now?


Checking out his surroundings, he then  observed that a public payphone booth was just a few feet away.  He knew that the 911 emergency number did not require any change, and that all he needed to do, was dial the number.  That was a great feature, since Jay had a very unhappy handcuffed suspect restrained with his one hand on the handcuffs.


          He picked up the phone, dialed 911 and advised the emergency operator, that he was an off-duty Deputy Sheriff, and had a felony suspect in custody.  Also, that he needed assistance from the city police. 


          A Morgan Hill Police unit arrived in two minutes.  Two other units followed and a California Highway Patrol unit arrived after that.


          Jay asked that additional units and the California Highway Patrol officer to check the several victims of vehicle assaults that now lay crashed in the ditch.   He then gave an account as to what had caused him to make the arrest of this person.


          The Morgan Hill officer flashed his light on the ground, by the feet of the suspect.  There were at least a dozen credit cards now on the pavement, by the suspect's feet.  The names on the cards were all different.  As the police officers checked the suspect’s vehicle they found a fully loaded .45 caliber automatic under the front seat and a nearly empty fifth of  brand name whiskey.


          It was eventually determined that this suspect was listed as an escaped prisoner from Oregon State Prison.  He had been sentenced and placed in this prison for second degree murder.  Upon his escape a caution statement was included to law enforcement, that he should be considered armed and extremely dangerous.   


          Jay lost another couple hours of precious home life while seeing that the information from his observations to the police was complete.  Upon being released by the local police, and as he finally drove home he reflected that he really hated coming home so late.  Still, tonight was worth it.  He had really protected lives and property tonight, as was his oath when he pinned on the deputy sheriff badge of this Department.


          Jay also mused on the short ride home; “what were the chances of him confronting this particular person with hundreds of cars on the highway?”


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