It’s hard to describe the feelings that came over me as the cop placed handcuffs on me and helped me into the back of the police car. A little remorse; a little anger, and a lot of wonder. I never thought I would be the one riding in the back seat of a black and white.
I’ve worked around cops throughout my entire career. There’s a lot of mutual respect between cops, firefighters and paramedics. We have a kind of brotherhood. Incidents like the 9/11 disaster have made us all a little closer.
After I got away from the grip my wife had on my shirt, I ran to my car, started it up and drove away. I wanted to put as much distance between us as possible. She ran after me, but stumbled in the parking lot trying to catch me. She yelled for me to come back.
“Come back?” I thought. “Why the hell should I come back? So you can take another swing at me?”
I sped through the parking lot and as I approached the road, I saw two police cruisers inbound with their emergency lights on. I knew who they were looking for.
I figured it would be best to stop and talk with them rather than make them come after me. I had done nothing wrong after all, except maybe being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I stopped the car, got out and motioned to the first cop that drove by. He stopped, got out and approached me.
“I think you’re probably looking for me”, I said. I glanced back toward where our incident took place and noticed that my wife was talking to a crowd of people, explaining to them what happened.
The cop asked me to step over next to his car and put my hands on the trunk. He patted me down, asked for my ID then asked what happened. I told him that my wife got pissed off and took a swing at me and the only way I could think of to prevent a fight was to get in my car and leave. He asked more questions then opened the rear door of the cruiser and invited me to have a seat. I got as comfortable as I could on the hard fiberglass bench seat.
The surreal nature of what was happening caused me to begin wondering what divine purpose was being worked out in all of this. I decided to place the circumstances at God’s feet, figuring it was just another bizarre turn in the road. I leaned back, smiled and waited for the cop to return with the news I expected, but didn’t really want to hear. He got back in the cruiser, drove me to the other side of the school parking lot and parked. When a second police cruiser arrived, he asked me to step out.
The other cop asked me to stand at the rear of the police car with my hands on the trunk and my feet spread. I was patted down again.
“We don’t want your kids to see this”, he said. “We moved you here so they wouldn’t have to watch. I need you to turn around so I can put handcuffs on you.”
I smiled as I turned and extended my arms backward to make it easier to get the cuffs on. They informed me that I was under arrest and said I could speak with an attorney before answering any more questions. They helped me into the back of cruiser and drove me to jail.
Most states in the US have laws requiring one person to be arrested if police are called to a possible domestic violence. Years ago the investigating officer could use discretion and decide not to arrest anyone if it seemed like there was no real assault. But now the laws require someone to be charged. She had a better story than I did...and she had witnesses. Men are arrested in 80% of the cases of domestic violence in the US.
At the jail, I was fingerprinted and given a nice-fitting orange jumpsuit to wear. They let me call my girlfriend. I told her where I was and asked her to meet me at the courthouse the next afternoon for my arraignment. They took my phone and dropped it in a plastic bag with the rest of my stuff then led me to my cell.
I layed down on an empty bunk in a dimly lit room full of strangers. I couldn’t believe what was happening. And I was scared, thinking about all the crazy things I’d heard about that happen to people in jail. I had about five minutes to myself before someone asked what I was arrested for. I told them the story and they began to laugh and encourage me. Of the 15 or so guys who were there, about half were in for domestic violence. Misery truly does love company.