This is an excerpt from the Homelessness is Only One Piece of My Puzzle: Implications for Policy and Practice book.
The Governor General Award of Canada and the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem—these are some of this country’s highest forms of recognition in the profession of policing. These are just a couple of the awards that I have gotten for my outstanding work in policing—and at great peril to myself. But the good also has come with the horrendously bad.
After 30 years of service, I quit my profession one week before my retirement because of intrusive, violent thoughts of killing a police officer and myself while working at Headquarters. But when the healing I had hoped would follow from quitting the police force didn’t come, five years after quitting I devised a plan to die at the hands of my fellow police brothers, it would be a ‘suicide by police.’ I wanted to end the living hell of trauma, alcoholism, and homelessness!
Below you will find some of the experiences that led to my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and alcoholism, which eventually left me homeless and broken. The time line is very fragmented as my mind recalls these events in a fractured fashion.
I admit it was my turn to buy coffee and doughnuts. I held out long enough and my fellow officers were right, I was chronically cheap. While I was in the coffee shop I could hear the beeping of a car horn; I turned and saw my partner waving for me to come out to the car. I knew something was up because he had the red emergency lights on. I ran and jumped into the scout car. My partner advised me that there had been a robbery near our location and that the suspect was armed with a handgun. We received information from dispatch highlighting the perpetrator’s description and clothing.
We then started patrolling, looking for his possible escape routes. I ordered my partner to stop and let me out while I patrolled on foot and he cruised the area in the squad car. The alley I picked to go down led me to a side street where I came face-to-face with the suspect. To my surprise his clothing did not match the description given to us by dispatch, but his body language gave him away. He motioned like he was going to grab a firearm from beneath his jacket. Before he could reach his weapon I beat him to the draw. I screamed, “Freeze!” He then turned and ran to the nearest house and booted in the door. It flew right open and he ran inside.
I followed in pursuit. A strange thing happened to me then: my senses were heightened, my vision sharpened and cleared. I became almost superhuman. I ran and didn’t get winded, colours became greatly enhanced—red became ruby red and green became emerald green. My hearing became hollow and it sounded like a giant drum was over my head. All of my senses worked in concert to improve my physical performance. It was like time had slowed down and was being stretched. I didn’t know it then but I was experiencing physiological and psychological effects which would later manifest as PTSD.
I came to the front door and had my gun and sights on the suspect. I could see a gun in his hand and started to pull back on the trigger on my own gun. It felt like slow motion. Just as the hammer was about to fall, a teenage girl jumped out from one of the rooms between me and the suspect, directly in the line of fire. She had heard a commotion in her house and came to see what was causing it. Miraculously I pulled up the barrel of the gun and released the trigger pressure without firing. She never knew how close to being shot she had come. The next thing I knew my hearing had returned and I heard a loud bang. The suspect had run out the back door; the loud bang had been the screen door when it slammed.
I ran through the kitchen and kicked the screen door with my foot, and as my foot hit the ground afterward I acquired a line of sight. In an instant I could see the suspect was running in front of a cinderblock wall. In a microsecond I knew if I shot that my bullets wouldn’t hit a civilian, they would be absorbed into the wall. I fired and much to my amazement I could see my bullet scream past the armed suspect and slam against the wall. It made a small puff of dust and chipped cement. I fired off two more rounds in rapid succession and I started to see the suspect fall in slow motion. As the suspect lay on the ground, I could see pulsating crimson blood squirting onto the lawn with every beat of his heart. I approached him with my weapon trained on him for another shot and I could hear him crying out for his mother. As I continued closer I realized he was actually in the next yard. This surprised me because I felt he was in arms reach, but in fact he was approximately 18 yards away and there was a fence between us. I didn’t even see the fence and I suspect it’s because my instincts ruled it irrelevant. I quickly holstered my weapon and jumped the fence, pulled my gun and reacquired the suspect. He was chest down and I put my knee into the small of his back and started to search for the handgun, which I couldn’t find. I felt something on his back and lifted his shirt and found he was wearing a bullet proof vest. He was fortunate, the bullet had hit him in between the butt cheek and the hamstring, shattering the femur and clipping the artery. I say fortunate because he could have very easily bled to death but I performed first aid, grabbing a tea towel off a nearby clothesline and applying a tourniquet. I believe I saved his life. The incident was later timed by investigators—the whole event took approximately 30 seconds. Upon his conviction in court I found out that I had crippled him for life.
|Read the rest of this story in the Homelessness is Only One Piece of My Puzzle: Implications for Policy and Practice book. Download it for free at: http://homelesshub.ca/onepieceofmypuzzle|