" Think About it..."
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True Police Stories
"Courage is the ability to move;
when all around you are frozen in fear
My Name is Clark Booth
I served with San Jose P.D. as an officer and with Santa Clara S.O. as a deputy. One night while patrolling the mean streets of downtown San Jose many years ago, before the major downtown renovation, there were still plenty of low life's on the prowl. Pulling a midnight shift in the middle of the week at around 0300, the streets were almost mine alone, except for the occasional street sweeper, my fellow officers that I saw a couple times an hour as we passed each other and people getting off swing shift on the way home. It was always easy to tell who was a law abiding citizen and who wasn't. They all had a certain "look" of either good or evil, depending on their disposition and what they were up to. Today, that is called "profiling". But it is a police tool and if not abused, a good one.
On that fateful night, I started heading eastbound on a little two-lane street called Reed Street. As I was driving slowly at patrol speed, I saw a really hinky looking guy driving toward me. When he saw me, he couldn't find a way to turn from my view gracefully, so he tried to play it cool and just kept driving. For all the good it did him. I had him pegged, which is no testament to my police skill; this guy was pretty obvious. He was driving an old 60's model GM sedan that was loaded to the hilt with boxes, furniture, junk and stuff. He was long haired and dirty looking and by the look on his face when he saw me, he was not a happy camper. I pulled a U-turn and as soon as I did, he sped up. I finished turning around and commented to my partner that I was going after him. I called dispatch, reporting his plate and description as well as direction of travel. He knew I was on him and turned, making a left-turn and then a quick right, finally pulling into a little alley type parking area near an old apartment complex. I pulled in right behind him. With my spotlight right on him, he began to panic and react like a caged animal.
I ordered him to "Freeze" and not to move, but he didn't listen. He began to run to the left, away from his car, then back to the right. Then as if to run around the front of his car and then back toward his car. He then ran toward his open driver's door. All while ignoring my verbal commands. The situation became very intense. By this time, my right hand which had been resting on my Smith and Wesson 357 magnum revolver, was now drawn and I was aiming at him.
I knew this just might be it for either him or me.
When I was fully drawn down on him, yelling for him to stop, he headed back one last time for his driver's door and lunged inside his car, reaching for his dashboard. At this point, he had obeyed none of my commands and he seemed to almost ignore me except for his sporadic and vain attempts to evade me. He pulled back out of his car and began turning around toward me. It was then I saw a dark object in his hand which he raised and pointed at me. I crouched behind the door of my cruiser. My partner was yelling at him from the passenger side of the police car and was aiming his firearm at him as well. I was the closest to the suspect. Inside, I just knew this was it. I made the decision to shoot him. My life would never be the same again.
Then a miracle happened to both me and the bad guy.
I had made the decision to shoot but it was as if I was frozen in time. As he continued to raise his arm toward me, I saw that the black barreled automatic pistol that he was holding in his trembling, outstretched hand, was actually his wallet. Also black in color and he held and aimed it at me just as if it were a gun. I saw the back of his hand coming across and raising up.
He then shouted, "Don't shoot!. Here's my ID."
I quickly grabbed his wallet with my left hand and put a twist lock on his arm as my partner raced around the car coming to my aid. Inside I had mixed feelings of rage and relief. Rage because I thought he was going to try and kill me and I was going to have to kill him first. I was going to empty my gun on him. Relief because it was over and I didn't have to shoot him after all. I put my revolver away and cuffed him. And as I suspected, all the goods he had in his old sedan were stolen. So it was a quick trip to another part of downtown for him. But better there than a trip to the morgue.
I thank my Heavenly Father for saving me from what I might have done to an unarmed man. No matter how stupid he was for disobeying a police officer under those circumstances. No matter how much of a low life thief he was.
That was not my night to take a life or his night to lose one.
I was spared countless hours of anguish and horror. Always pray that where ever you may roam, let the Holy Spirit guide.
Former Police Officer, Clark Booth #2389
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