Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Not so fun with the Cops


My partner and I have just cleared the hospital. It's been a fairly busy day so far, but not to many "real emergencies". Mostly we've had the 'been sick for a week' calls and a couple cases of insuranceitis. The day has been on the busy side for everyone in the city, at least the ambulances. As we clear we know that we are covering about 1/3 of the city.

We haven't gone far down the road when dispatch calls on the radio in a somewhat excited voice.
"Medic 11, we need you en route to Westwood Apartments for a shooting victim."

We turn on the lights and siren, and jump on the highway. We're in a fairly new ambulance and have it up to about 85mph. All of a sudden two blue blurs pass us at what must have been 120. We call dispatch to see if they have any other information. We are told this is a police officer that has been shot in the head, and there is one subject 10-27 (DRT or dead right there).

We arrive to find it has been raining cops. We have our city cops, two nearby city cops, Dallas County SO, and Highway Patrol all on scene. These guys are keyed up too! Talk about tense environment.

We find our "victim", a local PD officer awake, alert, and sitting on his knees by the parking lot. He said to us "I've been shot in the head." I look and find a small wound in the center of his forehead with blood trickling out of it. At the time I think it must have been a small caliber, maybe .22 or.25 perhaps. He denies loosing consciousness. The Engine crew from our house is there and we start getting him packaged. I ask where is the other guy, and this is where it starts to get scary for me.

One of the cops says "He's dead." Ok, I say, has anybody looked at him?
"NO! Goddammit, he's dead!"
But somebody (in EMS) has still got to look at him I tell the officer. Where is he?
"Oh fuck it! He's still in the apartment."

I look at my Captain, he says let's go. I grab our trauma bag and we take off running towards the apartment building. I see some cops in the area so I figure it must be there. As I make the turn to start up the stairs I look up and see King Kong holding a shotgun at the top of the stairs. Kong does not look pleased to see two guys running toward him.

I stop, raise my arms and yell "Fire Department! Fire Department! We have to check the other guy."

Kong is even less pleased now. We carefully and slowly made our way up the stairs and into the apartment. It looked like one hell of a fight had gone on in there. Furniture was all over the place, tables turned over, lamps broken, a body sized indention in the sheet rock.

There were several officers in the apartment, and they were all excited, and none of them were happy about "the damn paramedic" trying to save the bad guy. For the record, I wasn't trying to save him at that time. I only needed to check him and see if he was alive or dead. I could just see the Coroner coming to pick up live patient because nobody ever looked at him.

I found the resident laying prone over the foot of the bed. As I started to roll him over, a Sergent began yelling "He's still gotta gun". He had no pulse, so I was not to worried about him doing anything with the gun. I rolled him over, and found a small revolver wadded up in his shirt, with 6 ugly holes in his chest right over his heart. His eyes were fixed and dilated. I took the gun and gave it to the sergeant, and said "He's dead."

Behind me, I heard one of the officers yell "YES!!" and I saw a couple of high fives. When my Captain turned to leave, one of the officers had inadvertently had his shotgun pointed at his head.

To say we were nervous in the apartment was an understatement.

We ran back to the ambulance to find they had the officer ready to go. I jumped in the back with my partner, the patient, and another officer as one of the guys from the engine drove to the nearest trauma center about 10 minutes away. I quickly started two large bore IV's as we left, and put a non-rebreather mask on him. I looked more closely at the wounds on the head. He had two small laceration type wounds, one in the center of his forehead, and one on the back of his head. It looked like a small through and through wound.

He kept saying that the guy had shot him with his gun and that his head hurt. Vitals were good, so there wasn't much more for me to do but hang on. But hanging on was a full time job.

Our driver was a bit of the excitable type. He was excited and scared for our patient. Word was out that we were en route the the Hospital, so Dallas PD had an officer at every intersection it seemed between us and the hospital. We had a clear road, and every cop we passed, fell in behind us. My driver kept seeing the cops and getting more excited. At one point, our patient had one hand on my partners chest to help him stand up in the ambulance. When we got to the Trauma Center, we had a parade of maybe 20 police cars.

We learned afterwards that the officer had come to the apartment to serve some paperwork of some kind. The resident went ape shit, and the fight was on. Somehow, the resident had taken the officers gun away from him. The officer was armed with a Smith & Wesson auto, with the safety decocker. The resident could not get the safety off. He could pull the trigger, but nothing happened. The officer pulled his back up, a S&W .357 snub nosed revolver from an ankle holster, and that's when he was pistol whipped. He then stuck it into the bad guys chest and began pulling the trigger.

It turns out that the officer was not shot after all. The wounds were from the bad guy pistol whipping him when he couldn't get the gun to fire. Our officer was checked out and walked out of the hospital that night. He came by to thank us at the station a few days later which meant a lot.

Mr Fixit


Matt G said...

Holy crap! That's some call!
I can't believe that your dispatcher didn't find it pertinent to give you the rest of the story without having it dragged out.

The cop in me, however, is gritting his teeth at the way you destroyed part of the crime scene. That's sometimes the part where we unfortunately have different missions which cause us to butt heads-- you had to verify the status of a possible patient, and we have to preserve the precise state of the scene until it's been documented. The single most important piece of evidence on the scene is exactly the one that you're going to want to disturb the most-- the body.

The other day I had to do a case study for my blood spatter class, in which I had to make determinations based on the supposedly un-moved, un-disturbed body and blood spatter on the ground, as to whether an officer had been telling the truth about the events leading up to and following his shooting a subject in a parking lot. The question of whether the body had been disturbed at all since the subject had fallen was incredibly important.

If you don't mind me asking, how long ago was this? (Fully understand if you can't answer.)

Mr. Fixit said...

Don't mind at all. Actually this was about eight years ago.

And I fully understand about the crime scene situation. We've actually had some training from our PD guys about that.

But as you said, we have a different priority at that particular time.

And yes the dispatcher should have given us more info. Our dispatch center is for police and fire in the same room. They have multiple consoles for PD; patrol, CID, and others. We have the one for Fire. The dispatchers are all civilian PD employees. They all want to work PD consoles. Nobody wants to work Fire.

As I understand it, the entry level bottom trained person in dispatch answers the phone. The next level up is Fire console. Then onto the PD consoles. So it was most likely just a young/inexperienced dispatcher.

And apparently the officer was on his radio during part of the fight. They had parts of it on tape. That's why there were so many officers there when we arrived. They had been en route to an officer assistance call that turned into a shooting. We didn't get it until it was a shooting.

Billy Sparks said...

I agree about not messing with a crime scene but I ran a shooting one time that the PD refused us to enter. "Guy is dead you don't need to enter the apartment" my answer well if he is dead why is he lying on the floor still breathing? (visible chest movement). It took a sgt and lieut to get us access to our not quite dead patient.

Matt G said...

We had a case a few years back where a guy had suicided, and it was about a day before a family member found him, realized that he was looking at a dead body, and called the cops.

One of our guys arrived, and called dispatch to cancel EMS, and start the ME investigator. VFD continued en route, and insistedon coming in.

Our officer explained that this was not necessary. There almost was a scuffle.

When the officer can articulate: Hole through-and-through the head with darkened, dried blood, rigor, lividity, and lack of breathing or pulse-- let it go! :)

Billy Sparks said...

My incident happened several years ago when guarding the crime scene was just becoming a big deal. During that time we had more police officers worried about destroying the crime scene than they were about the patient. If they looked dead from 10 feet away they were. We finally got to a middle ground where we would send in one person (EMS, rescue squad or VFD) with a officer if they confirmed it great but if they decided to work the call they (EMS, rescue or VFD) had to document everything that was done and everyone that entered the area.