Wednesday, October 26, 2005

I don't even know how much I want to write about this.

What a day.

As I write this right now, I'm still at work. 7:20. I haven't gone home on time yet once this week...but as things to bitch about go, that's pretty lame. I'm waiting to get back some designs so I can check the changes on them. Again. And I really want to be home with M right now.

M is having a rough week. Yesterday, he and a coworker were dealing with some guy who went nuts in PES (psychiatric emergency services) and while they were dealing with him, the coworker had a heart attack. M got him over to the ER (which, if you're going to have a heart attack, two rooms over from the ER is the place to do it I guess) and took his gun belt off him and they did the EKG or whatever they do...the guy is ok, going to be ok they think, but M was shook up about it. He said the guy just went gray. I don't know, he wasn't very clear on the details, but obviously upset.

Then today, around 3, he called me at work to tell me what happened this morning. He was so amped I could hardly get the story straight, which is saying something since he was still so cranked a whole six or seven hours after this happened. He explained how some inmate had been in one of the day use rooms and had managed to pry off a couple of the metal table legs at the tables (which are bolted to the concrete floor) where inmates and their attorneys meet, set up outside the control room. Then the guy went apeshit (M's word) with them, busting up all the bullet-proof glass of the windows of the control room that look out onto the pods (where the cells and day-use rooms are). The sheriffs working the floor (including M) managed to seal the guy off in the hallway that goes between the control room and the separate pods, so he was just in there busting up glass, which being bulletproof shattered but didn't fall out of its frames. M is on backup for this thing called CERT, which is the team that deals with quote-unquote "emergencies" in corrections (when someone goes nuts in a cell or wherever and you have to go in there with either guns or biohazard gear to get him/her out so he/she stops trying to kill someone else or him/herself). They called in CERT and M was handed a shotgun and stationed outside the sliding metal door that quardons off part of the hallway that runs around the control room. The sergeant next to him who was wearing full riot gear by this point had the sliding metal door partway open and was shooting peppergun pellets into the hallway and trying to fill it with mace to subdue the guy so they could go in and restrain him.

Somehow though, the sergeant was shooting and using the key to control how far the door opens at the same time. And the door opened all the way while he was shooting. And the man with the metal pole threw the pole, and it hit the sergeant above his chest plate and below his face shield, flying up at such an angle that it laid his whole chin and part of his throat open. Blood went everywhere, all over the sergeant, the floor, and all over M. He said the sergeant's face just went blank and that his eyes were zeroes, and he heard the captain behind him authorizing him to use lethal force. The man came at M with another metal table leg, raised up. M raised his shotgun and aimed it at the man's chest but the man kept coming. Behind M were the elevators that the man was trying to get to. The way he explained this to me...he says he went into some sort of zone, where everything was calm, and he recognized that he had to kill the man before the man killed him. He pulled the trigger.

And the round didn't fire. The shell was bad. M pumped the chamber and the shell popped out and fell onto the floor. It had a dent in it. But it hadn't fired. The man with the pole looked at it and looked at M who had another round loaded and his finger on the trigger, and he put his pole down and he laid down face down on the floor. While M held the shotgun on him the rest of the CERT guys restrained the man. Further violence was averted. The sergeant who the guy hit with the table leg was taken to the hospital where he had his throat sewn back together with fourteen internal stitches and twenty-eight external ones. M spent the rest of the day filling out paperwork.

8:20. I'm writing this between rounds of design changes...a lot of hurry-up-and-wait.

Many thoughts in my head now. I wish I could go home. Soon, I think.


Later. I'm home now. M is in bed, having spent the evening sitting at home drinking whiskey. I don't blame him one bit. He told me the story again, more coherently. His face when he was telling it...I've only seen his face look like that a couple times, only at the most grim of times. He is on the other side of some hurdle within himself now. He knows that man would be dead if the round had fired properly. He had every intention of killing the man. He pulled the trigger intending to kill the man. I can see him so clearly standing there holding it with the sergeant's blood all over him. M has been gun-obsessed all his life, has fired a shotgun thousands and thousands of times, and this is the first time a round has ever failed to fire.

It makes me think about God. Why this time? Why this round? This man M was zeroed in on killing is 23 years old. He has racked up 23 felony charges since he was 18 years old, mostly for very violent offenses, including domestic violence charges (read: beating women and children). The man's brother, who had five rape convictions, was killed just a couple months ago. And the older brother in the family was killed in gang violence (I think) several years ago. It isn't that this man ceasing to exist would be such a bad thing. It's that because of these actions, M almost killed another human being. A terrible human being, but a human being. He came as close as you can come to killing. Next-door neighbors with killing.

I keep turning over the what if in my head. How can I not? How can I not think of how that scenario would have turned out differently if chance had not intervened? I mean, what are the odds?

I knew when I met M that if I got involved with him it was going to take some certain hardening inside me to be able to be with him, knowing what he does for a living. There have been a few instances here and there that have caused that hardening to happen. Nothing between M and I--just me dealing with the stories he brings home, of horrible, horrible atrocities, scenarios I wouldn't believe reading them in fiction but that are real. I have this hardness inside me already, but it's been honed by knowing M, by loving someone who is exposed to this particular kind of risk, who works among men who frequently want to kill him and sometimes try to. I have come to an understanding, in my head, that there are humans out there who want to kill the man I love. And that there are people who have *tried* to kill him. The man who followed him with a gun once. The man who shattered M's wrist in a massive fight. That terrorist he got into an altercation with a couple months back. The guy who assaulted him in the ER and went for his gunbelt and whose skull M fractured with his CD-21. The kid who pulled a gun on him during the Cincy riots in 2001. These things...I mean you just live with them, because you have to. Rejecting dealing with that would mean rejecting M. And, you know, that's not going to happen. I choose to stay with him because I love him. Even when that love causes me to be turned inside out with fear.

An interesting side note--the sergeant who was hit with the pole in the throat is someone I knew before I met M. I used to train with him back when I was all into the martial arts thing. The guy was good--very good. And hardcore. He used to work for a landscaping company before he became a sheriff, and instead of cutting down dead trees he was supposed to cut down with a saw, he used to Thai-kick them until they came out of the ground. Thai kicking is basically slamming stuff with your lower shins. This guy had shins of solid rock. I never liked to train Thai with him because he rattled my fucking brains out when I was holding the pads and he laid a solid roundhouse on me. I'd go home with awful headaches, and bruises all up and down my forearms. I had respect for that guy. He was good. That he got so fucked up today--that sucks. That sucks hard.

And, of course I have guilt for thinking it, but I'm glad it was him that got laid open instead of M.

Fuck. I feel dirty for writing that.

All right, so this is way more honest and open than I intended to get with this. But if I was going to tackle this I, well, I hate to do a thing half-assed.

I'll tell you, you think you got problems one day, just wait till the next one...

So. Anyway. That's all I got for now.


At October 27, 2005 12:25 AM, Blogger suleyman said...

The odds. The odds of this happening are...I don't know...impossible. In any other universe, that dude would be dead. I can't imagine how M. is handling this (well, I can kinda imagine). He came close as you can get to killing someone man to man without actually going there, and that's, well, highly untread territory.

And the nut who did this, who would have killed M. and everyone else in that room if he could, I hope they put him *underneath* the prison. He's lucky (and I mean damn lucky) he's even got his life.


At October 27, 2005 12:26 AM, Blogger The Great Saphenous said...

Wow, that's incredible. I can't imagine having someone I love in that much danger.

At October 27, 2005 2:47 AM, Blogger Elemmaciltur said...

Hey J, hope you and M are alright now. That's quite a story. What I believe is that there must have been a reason somewhere that the shot didn't went. There must be a reason why this man is still allow to live.

Bottom line, however, is that M's alright and he's still with you. *pats pats*

At October 27, 2005 6:59 AM, Anonymous em said...

first of all, glad M is alright- second of all- sometimes it blows my mind what goes on- i mean- i chose to have nothing to do with it, and fortunately do not, but it does not mean there are dangerous people out there and that means some people have to be designated to take care of all of that... and then the measures that sometimes have to be taken- people forget that it is not like in the movies, especially, i can imagine, when you are close to a person involved-i can imagine how it makes your mind ache-

At October 27, 2005 9:14 AM, Blogger HM said...

Wow, so glad to hear that M is okay; I guess that's the part to focus on once you get past the rest.

Sounds like something, someone, who knows, intervened in that situation so that the horrible what if of killing another human being could be avoided. I can't even imagine ever being in that type of situation.

Sigh... why can't people just behave?

At October 27, 2005 10:56 AM, Blogger Indigo said...

Jeez. And people wonder why as a wife and a mother I'm not using my criminal justice degree. I'm glad that M is okay, and glad that the sargeant is going to be okay. I can't imagine the emotions that are going through M right now with the way chance stepped in. Perhaps the inmate will change his ways? However, being that I have a degree in this, I'm thinking that it's highly unlikely.

FWIW, I love these types of 'cop' stories, and one of my uncles is a corrections officer at Attica in NY.

At October 27, 2005 12:26 PM, Blogger deputyswife said...

J, the most stressful job in life, next to copping, is being their support system. The outside world sees their wall they have built up to protect their emotions. We at home see what is behind that wall. It isn't pretty at times. Be strong for M. Be strong for yourself. Don't feel guilty about being relieved it was not M. It is a true reaction. You can't help that.

I am not overly religious, but I say a prayer for the Deputy everytime he goes on duty. I always send him with the phrase "be careful". Even when I am not around when he goes on, I call him.

Some nights I can't help but think of all of the fucking assholes out there that wouldn't blink twice about taking the life of my husband. It pisses me off how ungreatful people are towards his profession. But he still goes out to protect and serve in this thankless job.

I know you two will be okay. I know, because we all have faced similar experiences in this profession. We all get through them with the help of each other.

At October 27, 2005 12:57 PM, Blogger Raehan said...

That's just plain hard, isn't it.

Glad M is okay, too. Glad chance was on his side.


At October 27, 2005 3:49 PM, Blogger cmhl said...

that is really a powerful story. I am glad that M is ok---- I can't imagine how intense that must have been.

chance, or intervention? and if intervention, for whom? M or the felon?

At October 27, 2005 6:33 PM, Blogger mg said...

I've come back and read this post about three times today. Each time I'm struck by the intensity of it.

I'm glad M is alive to tell the tale.

As for fate and the dented shell? It wasn't that man's time to die. Maybe his living through this experience will bring some change to his life as well.

I wish you and M some well deserved peace this evening~


At October 27, 2005 9:07 PM, Anonymous E said...

go hug eachother. go climb in and listen to him breathe - match your breathing to his...let it calm you...sorry you both had such a tough time of it today.

At October 27, 2005 9:22 PM, Anonymous catherine said...

Holy shit! That was the most intense narrative I've read all day.

At October 27, 2005 10:00 PM, Anonymous atpanda said...

Ah J... Sending the man you love off into harms way every day. I can imagine that. But I always tell my husband that I'd much prefer what he's doing over being a police officer. That's some scary stuff.

I'm constantly amazed by what people do. I mean really, can you imagine how it is that some got so messed in the head that they're willing to just hurt people? I can't even begin to imagine.

I'm so glad that M and the other officers are alright. And yahoo on the martial arts. I'm a blue belt in budo kan, have I ever told you that? ;-)

At October 27, 2005 10:31 PM, Blogger M said...

This world... has some crazy, fucked-up whackos in it. It's a lovely, easy, gin-and-tonic feeling that most of us slip through our lives with, where maybe once we might have a chance unpleasant encounter... I can't imagine the toll it takes on you to do it for a living. I hope you're familiar with PTSD signs.
I'm glad there are people in the world who go out there, and get in the way of people who are just so far gone there's no coming back, and keep unassuming citizens like me safe and slipping along.
I used to train Thai as well, by the way. I threw a mean mofo Thai kick (never threw it in the ring because that's just unnecessary), but it never crossed my mind to take out trees with it. I used to open fire doors with spinning back kicks when no one was around, though. I remember skittering backwards accross the floor holding the shield during drills, hoping that I didn't miss a step, or I'd take a thai kick to the shoulder.

At October 28, 2005 11:13 AM, Blogger Mary said...

I read this post, completely glued to the screen and feeling shocked but not the least bit surprised after hearing so many similar stories like this from my husband in his line of work, too. It's just insane how bad things can get. I'm so glad that M was able to come home to you at the end of the day and that you have each other. And that 'chance' played a bit part in this, too. God knows, we all need chances. It's true, being part of the support system for someone in that profession is a truly trying yet loving job. I wish you both well as you 'recover'.

Thanks for sharing with such an honest post.

At October 28, 2005 2:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I share Catherine's sentiment: Holy Shit! (since you can't see me here with my mouth dropped open) (So glad you don't tackle writing half-assedly.) M's lucky to have you there to keep his tenderness alive - too many events like those (and those were too many already) and it would be a toss-up as to whether a person would be shattered or hardened. (and I just quit a job because the Boss wasn't "nice" to me - guess who feels a little whiny now?)


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