I was walking in a parking garage on the campus during the holidays, when the campus was closed. The garage had gates on the doors, but the vehicle entrance was open so that the police cars and maintenance vehicles could go in and out. I was on the second floor and had seen one of my officers on the first floor, writing a report in his car. I saw a man also walking on the floor ahead of me, technically trespassing, as the lights were out, the pedestrian gates locked, and signs at the vehicle entrance said, closed. I contacted the man who said that he had no ID. I asked him if he had any weapons and he said he did not. I asked if he could raise his hands and turn around so that I could see if he had any weapons at his waistband. He did not, but he did have a wallet in his back pocket. I asked him if he could check the wallet for ID.
And he took off. I chased him out the entrance of the garage, right past the officer in the car who looked up as we went by. I still remember the look on the officer’s face as he watched me run past. The suspect was bigger than me, and older, but he was still outdistancing me. Panic is a big motivator. I shouted at him that if he didn’t stop, he was going to get hurt (empty threat because I had no intention of beating him for trespassing and I wasn’t even sure I was going to catch him). He shouted that he didn’t care. So much for that lie. He cut into an alley behind an apartment complex that I knew was a dead end.
As I caught up to him, I ordered him to get on the ground and put his hands behind his back. He calmly turned to me, raised his fists, and said, “I can’t do that.”
I pepper-sprayed him right in the face. He shook his head and, again, calmly said, “You shouldn’t have done that.”
Just as I was thinking it was time for me to retreat and reassess my tools, the other officer pulled up in his car, lights and siren blaring; he hopped out and racked a round into the pump shotgun. And we made an arrest.
Five or so years later, I was working as a public information officer and the local newspaper called me. They wanted a statement from me since that same suspect had just been arrested again, by the FBI. It seems that a few years prior to my interacting with him, he had killed several women in the Kansas City area and that the FBI had just linked him to the killings with DNA. I had arrested a serial killer and didn’t even know it.
Does that qualify for retroactive PTSD?