Aug 17, 2010

Booze and Heights Don't Mix

Went to an autopsy today of a teenage kid. Any time you have a dead young person, there is a measure of pity for a life wasted, in spite of whatever circumstance (gunshot, suicide, stabbing, broken bottle, drowning, auto-erotic, car crash etc...) caused the death. But, all of that tragedy is sometimes covered by a thin layer of "Normalcy," which for cops means trying to be funny. Don't misunderstand- there is nothing funny about death, but often how WE (the living) deal with it is hilarious.

Saturday night. Very warm here in Yakima, and the young folk were out in force; dancing, making out and of course, drinking alcoholic beverages. Often times these same drunk kids climb into a car and try and drive home (or somewhere to find more dancing and/or alcohol). A young lady (drunk) had in the passenger seat a boy (also drunk) while driving down a local thoroughfare when said drunk girl "Loses control" of her car. Loses control??!? What does that really mean? Did she misplace her steering wheel? Drop her brake peddle in the toilet? So car smashes into center divider, fenders are crumpled, air bags are deployed and guy realizes that he probably wont "get lucky" tonight... After the crash, the driver is probably thinking what she will tell mom; passenger is probably only thinking about getting out of there before the cops come. So that's what he does; he gets out, runs to the side of the road and leaps over the guard rail.

The cops do come, they arrest little Miss .14 blood alcohol and place her in the county lock up.

Fast forward 6 hours. Elderly lady walking her dog along a canal bank sees a guy laying on the ground, a closer look (and a few licks from Fluffy) convinces her that the guy is dead, so she flips out her Jitterbug and calls 911.

The cops first arrive and instantly assume they have a homicide on their hands- this guy was obviously suffering some severe head trauma and had broken bones all over. Finally, a Detective arrives (my partner) and puzzles for a while, because he thinks that the injuries look nothing like an assault.

There was one late graveyard officer still working, who took the call before reporting in for the morning; he pointed up and casually commented to the detective,

"Funny, there was an accident right there last night."

Everyone then looked up at the road overpass to where he was pointing, 49 feet above the exact spot where the body lay.

Oops. As the saying goes: look before you leap, or maybe it should be: don't drink and jump.

Not a homicide, just another drinking related death. Sad.

Aug 15, 2010

The Glorious Agony of Defeat....

Been fairly quiet in the little town of Yakima. Speaking of Yak-Town, I was watching a Nickelodeon Channel show called "iCarly" (it's funny- don't knock it.) In this episode, the star, a teenager named Carly, was going to have to move from her home in Seattle, to Yakima. Throughout the show they kept saying "Yakima" like it was a very funny word, then it came to me... it IS a funny sounding word, but the most common mistake is to pronounce it ya-KEY-mah. It is pronounced YAK-i-mah, with the i pronounced as in it.

You can now sound like a native Yakimaniac, Yakimanian, Yakiwhatever.

The excitement this week was found (as it often is) in SWAT training. We went up into the Gifford Pinchot (no idea who he was, I'm surrounded by funny names) National Forest and snuck around, looking for.... ME. Having done this stuff for as long as I have, it's best to give the new guys a chance to go up against me in an ambush situation. Now understand, I don't want to win; I want them to win; it means that all of us old guys did well teaching them.

I took a few pictures of the environment; it's a pretty area:

The problem came when my ambush position was flanked by very accurate return fire from what are deceptively called "Air Soft" guns. They may use "air" as a propellant, but the .22 caliber polymer resin balls are anything but "soft."

After the guys "killed" me, I took this photo and texted it to my wife; only saying, "I got shot."

As you may guess, I got in big trouble for not explaining right away that it was no more than a shaving cut, although I waited until I got home to wash off the trickle of blood (MAJOR sympathy points scored there.)

The following day, the newest guy on the team came up and apologized. He was the one who shot me, but was too afraid of me to tell me on the day it happened. Afraid?!?! My first thought was- "Why would any other cop be afraid of me? I'm harmless!" Plus, I was very impressed with the teamwork and shooting; they did what they were supposed to, and did it quickly. But the second thought I had was, "Cool... the new guys are afraid of me!" Nothing wrong with some respect associated with the old dudes, right?

Aug 4, 2010

Can't stay out of the water...

After a week of cooking at camp, I got back to my desk with 18 voice messages (not too bad). One was a lawyer wanting his client's (who just got life for a 1993 rape/murder) jewelry back that I seized from the search of his apartment. Evidently after he was arrested last year, he found someone to marry and wants to give her the baubles. I guess for this woman it's the safest relationship she could ever have, think about it.

Another was from a guy who had a .45 auto stolen back in 2001. It was recovered two years ago, but the crime lab won't release it until they check it against ever unknown murder with a .45 since Liberty Valance took one in the head. I don't blame him for being upset, i'd want my gun back too. Then there's the insurance company who keeps bugging me to release a totaled stolen truck used in a double homicide- I don't know why they want it so bad; maybe the CEO is a really creepy guy who has a collection of "Death cars" or something as macabre. One call from a "Internet Sleuth" who thinks he has solved my 1977 Jane Doe homicide... ya right... maybe I'll call him and ask who really was on the grassy knoll as well. A call from the family of a guy who's been missing for two years wondering if the skeleton we recovered from the Naches river was their loved one. Finally, a call from the vampires at the American Red Cross, saying it's time to bleed me of my evil humors again (three months already??)

I then got my latest issue of "Sniper," its a trade newsletter that had an awesome article titled "T Zone Targets Are Dumb." Any author that un-PC deserves at lease a thorough read.

Finally, one of the patrol guys was chasing a shoplifter near the Yakima River. He jumped into the fast-running water and was lost among heavy brush along the river banks. I arrived to see if I could help (and get away from the dull-drums of the office) when Sgt Tim yells at me, "Hey Kellett, since you're not weighted down with gun belts and Kevlar, you're going to be the designated rescue swimmer." Repeat your traffic??!!? I'm doomed to spend this summer in the water while at work. Wait a minute... it's 98 degrees here today... maybe I like my job as the jump-in-the-cool-water-rescue-guy; I'd cool off, then get to go home early to "Change." Problem is, we lost him. I don't know whether he got away, hid better than we could see or has assumed ambient river temperature now due to an untimely undercurrent. Poor guy, all over a 2 lb bag of frozen shrimp. If he is dead (God have mercy), I hope he can come up with a better story for St Pete than, "I didn't have 5 bucks for seafood." If he is stuck to the bottom somewhere (I truly don't wish for that he is), it would be total irony that he is now being consumed by sea life.

It's late and I didn't do anything on my list today.