A while back, I wrote about having to be shot by a little gun-like thing that shoots small darts and electrifies you like a moth in a bug zapper; these things are called Tasers (“Training Day”).
Another of those experiences came when we all had to find out what it was like to be sprayed with OC (short for Oleoresin Capsaicin). This product comes in an aerosol can, from distilling hot peppers. But before you rush out and buy some to put on your tamales, be aware of how powerful this stuff really is.
Was working patrol when a call came out of a “Beer run,” that is, a shoplift where beer was taken. The dispatcher gave a description of the suspect, and a direction of travel (on foot) that would place him in the area where I was. Around the next corner, there he was, 6-pack of Coors still in hand. I pulled up, got out of my car, and approached the suspect, who was doing his best to look invisible. I walked up to him and told him, “Hold it,” which doesn’t really make sense; we are either telling people to hold it, or drop it… us cops really should make up our minds.
Anyway, the guy turned and stopped, then did the totally unexpected; he threw his entire 6-pack of Coors at my head. Most alcoholics would rather throw their liver at you than their booze. The beer missed my head, perhaps because of my really fast reflexes, or the fact that he was already so drunk he was not able to throw well. Needless to say, the foot chase was on. I initially caught him in the first few steps, but I just got his coat, and he shed that like a lizard dropping his own tail. Next, I grabbed one of his shirts, which also came off, and we were running again. It is not my intention to slowly strip people before I arrest them, often it just turns out that way- taking them into custody, one piece of clothing at a time.
I then remembered the OC can on my belt; I caught up to him a third time, this time wrapping my right hand in his t-shirt and spraying him with OC. He pulled away a last time, pulling my hand with his shirt. I heard a “snapping” sound, which I thought was his shirt tearing, and he took off again, with me running after him. Now, those last few things happened very fast; in fact, so fast that the OC was still in a small, dense cloud in front of me where I had just sprayed. When I ran forward, my face went into that cloud, evenly and completely distributing it between my eyes and lungs.
Do you all recall “Return of the Jedi? Remember the scene where the evil emperor says to the hero Luke, “Your anger has made you powerful?” In spite of my having become blinded and unable to breathe, I was so angry, that I caught the guy one last time, and did not let go. Once back-up arrived and put handcuffs on the guy, I ripped the contacts out of my eyes, and looked around for a water source. I found a faucet in an alley, turned it on and stuck my face under it. I must have looked like a salmon trying to swim upstream into the pipe.
A few minutes later, when the OC was all washed off, I noticed that the middle finger of my right hand was swollen to about twice normal size. An X-ray later showed that the second bone in that finger had snapped in two as it was twisted up in the thief’s t-shirt. A splint was placed on the finger, and the final indignity was having to “give the bird” every time someone wanted to see my injury.
I thought I would also include a photo of me now, showing the stupid "bust level" splint that you get when you have three pins placed into the top of your arm.