Have you ever been in a fight? Yea, we’ve all been in fights in school, some on the playground some with our siblings when mom was busy. I once had a fight on my way home from junior high with a school bully. I remember it as winning because after that he left me alone—but then I got my growth spurt before he did.
As a rule I wasn’t a big fighter and usually tried to talk my way out of confrontations. That served me well through most of my career with the LAPD, but every once in a while words were not enough. You see it every day on the news: some guy gets high and when the cops arrive he has to prove that he’s a man. He refuses to comply and squares off. The cop’s thinking, This is not only a clean uniform but it’s brand new. I don’t want to wrestle this dirt bag and ruin my uniform. Cops paid for their own uniforms in the early days.
The drunk’s probably expecting the Marques of Queensberry Rules and expecting a fair one-on-one fight. The cop’s thinking, I’ll get him to raise his hands to hit me and I’ll whack him across the shins with my Baton. When he collapses, me and my 12 buddies will jump on his back and handcuff him. I used this tactic more than once and didn’t get dirty or tear a uniform.
By the way, we don’t fight fair—we fight to win as fast as possible. Two, three, five, fifteen cops, whatever it takes to win. The problem with multiple cops was that most cops who got hurt were hit by another cop by accident. Doesn’t it just make you want to barf when on TV, the good guy throws away his gun and squares off against the bad guy as all those cops watch?
In the Police Academy they teach you that if you lose a street fight you die. No time out, no King’s X, no do-overs, no “Ok, you can go free.” You lose a fight you die. Ok, with that mindset, you head out to the mean streets of Los Angeles. I’m 21, in good shape and armed with the latest fight techniques, taught at the finest police academy in the world.
Now, my training officer tells me to calm down. I see violent confrontations around every corner. I’m thinking she’s 80 but that cane could be deadly and who knows what medication she’s on. Young cops are eager to prove that they will back up their partner in a fight and take care of business. Not all new cops fought when they should have and a few were fired for being cowards. One probationer watched as his partner was fighting a drug intoxicated suspect and didn’t help. His reasoning was, “it looked like a fair fight!” Another male probationer screamed as he stood frozen while his partner was fighting for his life.
After a few years, on the street a cop can tell when talking will work or when a fight is imminent. Craig B. said that he knew when his partner was about to fight. He took off his glasses and set them on the hood of the police car. It wasn’t always that easy to see the fight coming. I had a few occasions where I thought I had the situation calmed down and my suspect suddenly decided he wasn’t go to jail without a fight.
Sometimes the sound of you opening your handcuff case would send your suspect into a fighting stance. I once had a suspect tell me that he was going to kick my ass and I agreed with him that he could—he was huge. I talked him out of the fight when I told him that after he kicked my ass he would have to kick the ass of my partners and half the officers working Hollywood that night. I told him that he could spend the night in the Hollywood Jail, or go to the hospital or maybe even the county morgue. It worked he went to jail without a fight. See, I’m smarter than you thought.
As I said I usually tried to talk my way out of a fight, but one time my emotions got the better of me. It was close to Christmas and Tom, my son was about three. I responded to a family dispute radio call. The mother answered the door holding a 3 year old, blond haired boy with big eyes. He reminded me of Tom. The mother was crying as she told us that her husband came home drunk. He broke the Christmas tree and threw the little boys presents against the wall. I asked where the husband was and she directed me to the bedroom. He was sound asleep.
I had fire in my eyes and rudely awoke the drunk. I’ll admit now, I was very pissed off and tried to provoke a fight. I finger poked the husband in the chest as I threatened to kick his ass. I waited for any sign of resistance so I could use all my Academy training in martial arts. Nothing. He was either too drunk or a coward. I told him that if I had to come back to their apartment he would not go to jail, he would be admitted to a local hospital with $20 worth of nickel knots. Let me save you some time that’s 400 knots.
My partner was as wide-eyed as that little boy. He had never seen me that angry. When I got home, I hugged Tom and showed him the proper way to shake a Christmas present to reveal the contents. True story…
Next, I’ll talk about the hazards of fighting and an unusual fight I was involved in.