Saturday, December 04, 2004

It's no laughing matter, Officer Fox...

Today I went over to Shelby Twp, in Macomb County, MI and had a very scary experience. Because one of the places I was going today was a college campus and I would be in a classroom, I did not have my carry pistol with me.

On the way home, I stopped at CostCo to try to find some dog food. I drove around looking for a spot to park and suddenly, someone was backing out of a spot, so I flipped on my blinker to pull into a spot on my right.

A man suddenly came charging from across the aisle to my left and ran around and sort of half climbed onto the front right side of my vehicle. He was screaming something but, up to that point, I had my radio going and the windows rolled up (it's mid-December, after all) and I couldn't hear what he was screaming. My first thoughts were a jumble of get off, look back, anyone behind me, blocked in, go forward would mean hitting him, sh*t!

I gestured as though waving him off and screamed, "Get off!" a couple of times but he only became more irate. I couldn't figure it out. He was in a parking space, in a parked car when he first jumped out and came after me so what the heck was going on?!?

I still couldn't hear what he was saying, still couldn't move without running him over and sure as heck wasn't going to roll a window down or open a door and politely ask what he wanted. He simply would not move, wouldn't let me move.

I reached down, without taking my eyes off him, and got my cell phone and dialed 911. I got a dispatcher on the line and started explaining the situation and she transferred me over to another department (geographically) and I began again.

Still, the guy is all over my car, won't let me move and frankly, is worrying me a whole bunch since he's obviously not stable, a good 6'2" tall and weighing in around 220 and also is more like 30 years old to my 50. And I'm unarmed, damn it, because college classrooms are Criminal Empowerment Zones in the State of Michigan. As a certified teacher with several degrees, I cannot understand anyone's fear of me carrying my firearm, especially since I am licensed, trained, and have undergone the necessary background checks, etc., but I'll leave that for another day to discuss.

The dispatcher takes a description, tells me she'll send an officer and there I am, still stuck and no way to move. I was blocked by traffic behind and to go forward would have meant running him over. Not that I wouldn't have eventually, to be honest, but it just wasn't to the "deadly force" point yet, in my judgment.

The next thing this crazy man does is signal to someone behind me to come around and this really lit a fire under me. I screamed for him to get off my car, which he still would not do, and there on the side of me was a big green SUV, which he now directed into the spot in front of me.

This lunatic had risked his life and mine to give someone a parking spot.

It wasn't his vehicle, he was never in it, he came from another parked vehicle and, I eventually found out, he had two children and his wife in his own SUV across the way while he was doing all of this. Amazingly stupid. One might even say deranged.

While he was waving this other vehicle in, I again looked back to see if I could back away from him and escape, but I was still blocked in by other vehicles. With the SUV he had signaled to blocking me in from the front, he ran to his own vehicle. Frankly, now I'm thinking he's going for a gun, but what he actually does, to my complete amazement, is grab a small boy, about 2 years old, out of the back seat, and come running back to my vehicle, screaming, with one hand reaching for my door.

All the other doors were locked but mine was not so I just flipped my arm up and slammed the lock down with the back of my arm.

I wanted out of there badly, but I was still blocked by other vehicles and now to get past this guy, I'd have had to hit him and this small boy in his arms.

His wife (or the woman he was with, whomever she was) got out of their vehicle and hollered something to him, and at that point, he simply turned around and walked casually away and into CostCo.

My God.

I parked my car about two rows down and went to where the police dispatcher had told me to wait. I was still on red alert, believe me, but I didn't want to just walk away and let this lunatic go free to attack someone else less prepared or more vulnerable.

Since my digital camera is always in tow, and police can be slow to respond, I decided to sneak and get a couple of quick shots of his license plate and vehicle, which I did.

If you live in the area or in SE Michigan, this is a vehicle you want to keep half an eye out for. It's a black, newer model Dodge Durango, as you can see, with the license plate as shown, etc. A dark haired male, about 6 feet tall or so, black hair, olive complexion, winter coat is blue and black, but predominately royal blue, and he is volatile.

Think about it. He risked being run over and then brought a small child into the situation, for someone else to get a parking spot.

That's not sane.

Eventually, an officer showed up. It was approximately 15 minutes after the incident ended and it was a very nerve-wracking fifteen minutes. I was, after all, asked to stand in an open area, accessible to the same lunatic that went on the attack in the first place, and wait, without any means of self-defense, for an officer to arrive.

When he did arrive, he took my statement then asked me to follow him into the store to attempt to identify the man. I did so. The man had taken off his coat and stuffed it into his cart and put some things on top of it, but I still knew him to be the man who had acted so irrationally.

In perhaps five minutes the officer returned to me and two other officers joined him. They proceeded to tell me that there was no problem, that the guy was just trying to get someone a parking spot and that I was overreacting. They laughed at me being fearful for my safety and took me to the front of the store and explained that I was overreacting and he just felt he deserved the parking space. "It's crowded, people want to park, he felt he should be able to park there."

No, I countered, he was already parked. This crazy man did this, trapped me so I couldn't go anywhere, climbed all over my car, eventually charged the side of my vehicle with a small child in his arms and terrified me for someone else to get a spot?!?!?!?

And you Officers of the Law don't see a problem with that?

I asked for a report number, wrote down the officer's name and badge number and the officer, whose competence I definitely doubt by now, asks me if I am going to go shopping here.

Eh? What? Shopping here?

No, I am not.

He offers to walk me out to my car. I say yes, like it or not. I now have zero respect for him, but I am forced, by circumstances beyond my control, to rely on him to get me safely to my vehicle.

We walk to the front of the building, exit, and I head to my car, with him behind me.

I think.

After a few more steps, I turn to ask him where I can get a copy of the police report and when, and he is gone.

He has left me alone, unprotected, with this man a few hundred feet away who was already irrational, who now knows I have called the police on him.

What can he have been thinking? As I went past the second SUV, the one the man risked his life to get a parking spot for, I quickly memorized the license plate. It's easy because it's a personalized plate - BUDZKY - on a green Dodge Durango. I hustle back to my car, jump in and drive away.

As I drive, heading in the general direction of home, it all finally hits me. I'm not one to panic or cry or any of that while something is happening, but now, after a few moments, I am weeping, my heart is pounding, I keep thinking how easily someone could have been hurt or even killed and I call the Shelby Township Police Department and ask to speak to someone because I want to file a citizen's complaint against this officer.

After some soothing chat from the Lieutenant in charge, who still doesn't seem to get the point any more than his officer did, that I was threatened and detained against my will by this man, he tells me he'll talk to his officer and get back to me. I was ok with that because I believe in the system, basically, although it appears I was much too hopeful and far too naive.

I made it home safely and took pictures of my vehicle with the side all cleaned off where he'd been climbing on it and the dust, etc. had been rubbed clean and the fingerprints all over the top of the vehicle where he had been "holding" onto it to keep me from moving or going anywhere. The officer, by the way, had declined to look at my vehicle at all. He was too entertained, I guess, by the idea of me being intimidated by this big, irrational local boy.

As you can see, the side is wiped clean by his being all over it and the fingerprints clearly show he was on the vehicle. Would the officer been happier, I wonder, if I had chosen to drive over this man's feet to get away, or if I had panicked and stomped on the gas, throwing him off the vehicle and possible running him over and injuring or killing him? Certainly, this had the potential to go in that direction but the officer seem fine with that and even amused by the whole incident.

His Lieutenant called me back and proceeded to justify everything the officer did, and then basically called me a liar.I asked him to mail me a citizen complaint form which he refused to do, telling me I had to come into the station there to file a complaint. He told me I could come in, write a statement and that he would take care of it.

I asked him where I could get the complaint form online or if it could be mailed to me and he refused, saying they weren't online, that the department didn't mail them and that I should just come in and give him a statement.

I told him again that it would be a hardship for me to come in, that I did not feel safe in Shelby Township since I knew that this irrational man was roaming around free and that I would like to have it mailed to me. He once again refused, and told me to come in again.

I won't be doing that. Instead, I have decided to write up my statement, include the pictures, send it in to the Chief of Police there, Robert L. Leman, and then copy the whole thing and forward it both to the State Police, the township's trustees and to Attorney General Mike Cox's office. Perhaps someone in one of those places will act on the matter. I don't know. If anyone reading this has any ideas of where it ought to be sent other than those I've listed, please email
me and let me know.

Lt. Woelkers tells me he will send Officer Fox back out to CostCo and see if there are any tapes of the parking lot available. I do not believe him, to be frank. I don't think any further investigation will happen unless the department is somehow forced to do so and even then, I doubt the officer will do anything more than file a report that is completely favorable to this young lunatic that came after me.

Police reports are public information, I believe. I will be attempting to get a copy of the report to see what resemblance it bears to what actually happened and what the officer claims to have told me, etc. I doubt it will be forwarded to the prosecutor as promised and I am angry that the department is taking the stance that this is not a problem and that the second vehicle, the one with the personalized plates, is being viewed as having been "credible witnesses" when the black male driving very clearly benefited from this lunatic's actions.

The one thing I would like to add is that even though I will never willingly set foot in Shelby Township, Macomb County, Michigan again and I have zero respect for this officer and the others involed, including Lt. Woelkers, who was certainly deeply interested in covering his, and his officer's, butt, but really didn't give a damn about a citizen being attacked on his turf, I remain 100% supportive of the law enforcement community. Mostly good people trying to do a good job.

But someone needs to start worrying about the kinds and levels of violence that man's two young sons are being exposed to. It's a sad situation, in my opinion, very sad, and very dangerous.