It was a little after 11:00 PM on a cool, November evening. The University operated a theater a few blocks from campus, in the downtown core, and I had decided to make a trip over there and circle the building as part of my patrol pattern that evening. Oh, by the way, I was on a mountain bike at the time. I contacted a homeless person who had camped out in front of the doors to the theater, issued her a new court date for a warrant she had, and then asked if she needed directions to a shelter. She thanked me for the new court date and declined the shelter, packed up her stuff, and walked away.
As I slipped my gear into my bag and began to ride back toward campus, I heard voices shouting behind me. I saw two young men walking quickly in my direction and two other men shouting at them, trying to start a fight, circling them like sharks. I rode my bike over to put myself in between the two groups to separate them. But the aggressors refused to be slowed, they simply walked around me and continued to taunt the other two men who purposely tried to ignore them and their taunts. Clearly, this was going to be more work than just chasing away the aggressors and letting everyone go on their way.
I hopped off my bicycle to physically stop the two instigators and find out what was going on. During this time, I did not hear on my scanner that there were a group of three men running around downtown, physically attacking people. I did not hear that the last attack was only half a block from my current position, just minutes before. I reached out to grab one of the men by the arm, while keeping the second man in my field of vision. I did not see the third man run up behind me from the shadows and punch me in the side of the head.
The first blow actually struck my bicycle helmet, but it was jarring. The only thing my brain could equate it with was when I was in a car accident as a teenager. My brain told me that I had just been hit by a car. I turned and was immediately struck in the face, repeatedly. My confusion turned to anger. While taking blows to the face, I reached down with my left hand and keyed up my microphone. I told dispatch that I needed Code 3 backup at the theater. I said this calmly and clearly, although my speech was interspersed with blows to my cheek and jaw. With my right hand, I grabbed the handle of my firearm, but thought, “I’m not there, yet.” I instead drew my baton. After taking perhaps a dozen blows to the face and head, I grabbed my attacker’s shirt and ordered him to the ground.
Now that I was armed and giving orders, he tried to get out of my grip and fell to the ground, pulling out of his shirt. I ordered him to stay down, but when he to get up, I had to use the baton to keep him from continuing to attack me. One of the other aggressors came toward me to help his friend, I ordered him to stay back and when he continued toward me, I used the baton on him as well. Then all three ran away. One of my officers drove up across the sidewalk and chased down the primary attacker, using a TASER to take him into custody. Another officer arrived in time to catch the other two instigators.
Before the ambulances arrived to take us all to the hospital, I went to speak to the primary attacker. With blood pouring down my face and my lips and jaw swollen, and my teeth completely out of alignment, we made I contact. I was 51 years old at the time, and easily fifty pounds lighter than this young man of about 20, and while I was working on a bicycle, I was not an athlete in any way shape or form.
“When you get down to the jail, and you decide to brag about how you attacked a cop, remember this. You attacked a little, old man, from behind, took him by surprise, and you couldn’t even knock him down. Brag about that.”
I was then taken to the emergency room by ambulance where I was X-Rayed and MRIed and then referred to a couple of specialists. Diagnosed with injury caused TMJ, my jaw will only worsen over time. A few months later, I lost a front tooth and had to get an implant put in, following a surgery called an apicoectomy, a result of being punched in the face. While I did not have to pay for any of my medical bills, my final Workers Comp costs were about $75,000. And my injuries were relatively minor.
And why did all this happen? Those three men were just out to have a good time.
Apparently, they had a very good time.