As a retired police officer with 39 years of service, I became infuriated after watching the video of a rogue cop choke the life out of defenseless George Floyd. It was challenging to wrap my mind around the circumstances that led to Mr. Floyd’s death.
What was even more egregious to me was that there were three other police officers who stood around and watched as Mr. Floyd pleaded for his life before taking his last breath.
Folks, Mr. Floyd’s alleged crime was using a possibly counterfeit $20 bill. Even if that was true, might it have been related to the coronavirus crisis and the need to survive? One would think the police first should have found the reason why Mr. Floyd felt that he had to use fake money.
The pandemic has made many people desperate during these troubled times. I hope the media covering this horrific incident will look into the circumstances.
But regardless of whether Mr. Floyd used a fake $20 bill or not, the fact of the matter remains his horrible death came at the hands (or knee) of an SOB dumb cop. This disgrace to the badge actually glared at the person capturing video of him with his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck.
How could he not remember how many other videos of police wrongdoing created ultimately terrible consequences stemming from one stupid and nearly insane act?
When I graduated from the Baltimore County Police Department in the late ’60s, my mind was full of visions from the great crime dramas like Dragnet and Adam 12. In those days, a rookie cop’s first six months were spent with a field training officer (FTO).
It was well known throughout the police force that the first thing your FTO taught you was to forget everything they taught you in the police academy because life on the streets is different.
It was while working the 3 to 11 shift on a beautiful Sunday afternoon on the west side of Baltimore County that reality stepped in and forever changed my life. Not only did this incident change my reality as a police officer, but it provided a harsh introduction to the reality of the rest of the world.
I received a radio call that paramedics needed assistance with a subject. Even in those days, when paramedics would encounter someone who was out of control, they would call for police assistance. As my FTO and I drove up a long narrow driveway, I saw a group of about five black men attempting to calm a man who was in great distress.
What scared the hell out of me because was this huge and powerful man attempting to lift a tree out of the ground by its roots.
I asked one of the men trying to help what was going on, and he told me that they were having a family picnic when, all of a sudden, the man in distress became very agitated and eventually went out of control for no known reason.
The two paramedics on the scene knew they couldn’t control someone who appeared to be as strong and powerful as an NFL linebacker. Meanwhile, I could see relief in the other men’s faces since they had exhausted themselves trying to help this individual through whatever crisis had come upon him.
My FTO, the paramedics, some of the other men, and I all tried to get the man on a stretcher and transported to the hospital. Back in those days, the ambulances were far cry from today’s modern paramedic units, as this photo shows:
As you can see, there was no separation between the driver and the area where the stretcher was placed.
One thing I distinctly remember about that incident was that race was never an issue. Family members of the stricken man were just as concerned as us police officers and the paramedics were. All we wanted to do was resolve the issue and provide proper care to a man that was suffering from something that very few people will ever experience.
After a long struggle to get this large and powerful man into the back of the ambulance, I was instructed to ride along in the ambulance. My job was to, hopefully, make sure that his out-of-control body movements did not impact the safety of the paramedics.
I still vividly remember the man screaming as if he was in some sort of life-threatening situation.
I realized that any form of communication or any attempts to calm this man down would be useless. Whatever medical situation overcame him was beyond his, and our, control.
When the man realized his arms were tethered to the stretcher with thick leather straps, he quickly raised his arm and broke the strap. Still, there was never any attempt by the patient to harm me or the paramedics.
Getting to the hospital was a relief, but it wasn’t the end of the long battle to restrain someone very distraught. By the time we arrived, I was exhausted from trying to keep the patient from harming himself or the paramedics. A team of doctors and nurses was alerted to the situation and awaited our arrival.
We tried to remove the patient from the ambulance, but he stuck his foot against the door, which ultimately led to the stretcher breaking loose from its moorings and falling into the emergency area of the hospital.
After a continuous effort with the help of my FTO and some hospital staff, we were able to finally get then man onto a hospital gurney so the doctors could determine what caused this man to go completely out of control.
My FTO and I stayed at the hospital to ensure the patient did not present a danger to the doctors and nurses attempting to evaluate his condition. I remember my uniform was torn in multiple places from my attempts to control someone who could have crushed any of us with one sweep of his giant muscular arm.
The most sobering reality for me from that situation was that the world had suddenly become more complicated and unpredictable than I had ever imagined, despite the fact that I had a uniform, a badge, and a gun. Those three items did very little in the face of adversity.
After a while, one of the ER doctors advised my FTO and me that the gentleman had a heart attack, and the reason for his loss of control was due to the lack of oxygen reaching his brain.
The man’s family thanked us for helping him survive. Had we not acted, the heart attack could’ve proven fatal.
Little did I know that one day I would suffer a similar fate.
It was a late summer evening in June 2003 when I suffered cardiac arrest in the parking lot of the old North Point Precinct. I have no recollection of that day, but I was told that I also went completely berserk before hitting the ground without a pulse or heartbeat.
Had my fellow officers misinterpreted my actions, things could have gone horribly wrong and I would not be here today.
Looking back, it would have been easy for the first situation with the heart attack victim to have taken a very different turn. It was not uncommon during those years for hallucinogenic drugs like LSD to create havoc.
In fact, years later, I was called to a scenario where twin brothers in Timonium had taken LSD and were on a horrible and destructive trip. When we arrived, their parents told us that the brothers were tearing at each other’s flesh and causing damage throughout the house. It took a small army of police officers to subdue and transport these out-of-control and drug-induced teens to a hospital.
After being thrown around by the much smaller twins, we finally got them to the hospital. An ER doctor told me they gave the twins the maximum dose of Thorazine to calm them down, but only the passage of time would resolve the effects of the LSD. There was no more medicine that could be administered.
One thing life has taught me is that we ALL play a role that is paramount to our society’s survival. Life cannot continue as we know it if every situation widens the racial divide.
In closing, I find it most regrettable that Mr. Floyd’s death, a death that could have very easily been avoided, has led to the destruction of yet another American city. I suppose the old idiom is correct: “Those who fail to remember history are doomed to repeat it.”