Things went sideways so quickly. One minute it’s a routine traffic stop, clean and active, a verbal warning for a blown taillight. Then the passenger opened his door.
“Please stay in the vehicle, sir.”
Instead, he (white male, twenty to thirty, short dark hair, faded green T) climbed out, and I back-peddled to the rear of the vehicle so I could cover both parties.
“Sir, please return to the vehicle.”
The passenger stared at me (dark eyes, no facial hair, no visible tats), his hands out of sight, staring at me but looking through me.
The driver opened his door and swung out to face me. (White male, twenty to thirty, bald, striped shirt.)
“I need you both to return to the vehicle.”
Placed my hand on my holster and keyed my microphone for backup.
The driver glanced at the passenger and then charged me.
I drew my gun, and he was on me, knocking me to the ground. I rolled away and while still on my back raised my weapon. “Stop!”
The driver grinned and stepped closer, waving the knife.
I pulled the trigger, and my firearm jammed.
His mouth moved, but I couldn’t hear what he said.
I tapped the end of the magazine against the roadway, racked, and fired.
Center mass, and he dropped to his knees, toppled to the pavement.
Keeping my firearm trained on him, I scrambled to my feet, searching for the passenger. He wasn’t visible, wasn’t in the car.
I requested an ambulance. “Shots fired, one suspect down, one suspect on foot. White male, twenty to thirty, dark hair, dark eyes.”
After holstering my gun, I shifted the suspect on the ground and cuffed his hands. No sign of the knife. Still no sign of the passenger.
I rolled the suspect onto his back so that I could apply pressure to the wound, blood welling up between my fingers. “Don’t you dare die.”
Backup arrived, and I sent him after the missing passenger.
My sergeant arrived and assumed command of the scene.
The driver stopped breathing, and I shifted position to start CPR.
He tasted of garlic.
An EMT appeared at my side, took over the CPR as another EMT unpacked equipment.
I sat back on my heels, watching the driver, waiting for his eyes to open. “He’s going to be okay, isn’t he?”
My sergeant requested my firearm.
The lieutenant arrived. The Chief.
Questions. “We need to ask you these things. We’re not saying you did anything wrong. It’s just procedure.”
I watched the EMTs load the driver into the ambulance.
One ran to get behind the wheel.
The ambulance fled the scene, lights and sirens.
Turning to the Chief, I asked, “He’s going to live, right?”
After being cleared of any wrongdoing, I returned to patrol and pushed a cruiser for another seventeen years. Moved inside and pushed paper until I retired.
Every single day, I see that blown taillight and signal the driver to pull over.
Every single day.
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