Locally, the Official Police
Story implied: the perp, now
the deceased, was a well-known
"crazy person", who,
on the day in question, had been
the subject of one police call
already, was observed to be
acting in an irrational manner
suggestive of intoxication or
drug use. A stern warning was
issued but several hours later,
yet another call from the same
address was recorded.
At the scene, the subject was
heard to be raving, crashing about
in his second-story apartment in
what could be described as a violent
manner. A backup call was issued
suggesting the subject might be
experiencing a psychotic break.
The first four officers on the scene conferred
and decided to initiate a two-pronged
assault, two officers approaching
from the stairway and two by
a window accessible from a rear-of
the-building fire escape. The officers
approaching by the front entrance
entered first by kicking in the door
with guns drawn while the other
officers climbed through the window
also with weapons drawn.
They encountered a "half-naked" from
the waist down, black man brandishing
what appeared to be a long-handled
knife and another large potential weapon.
The officers called out a cease-
and-desist warning, which was ignored
by the deceased who continued to act in
a threatening, irrational manner.
The officers then fired
repeatedly at the subject, causing his
death. In the subsequent investigation
and trial, verbal accounts and on-the-scene
evidence downgraded the subject's weapons:
to a BBQ-style long-handled knife
and fork, to a serrated kitchen knife and
large Tonka toy truck, to a house key and
miniature Hot Wheels car. All the officers
involved expressed remorse, much as
those who shot Amadou Diallo would
some years later in Emmy-worthy
performances. All the officers, in both
cases, were exonerated, though whether
the local cops took the judge out for dinner
after the trial, as New York's Finest did, is
unknown at this time.
Gerald So reads "Crime Story":
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Alan confesses: "I worked in a sort of neighborhood bar for over twenty years, one frequented by beat cops. Roughly half of them were cool guys who were my friends. The other half, not so cool. The point of view of the cop used in this poem is from one of the cops who remembered me from my, 'long-haired, hippie, college student days'. He didn't like me then and he doesn't like me now. As far as that cop was concerned this is a simple story: The guy was a persistent pain in the ass, an opportunity arose to take him out. Bang-bang, you're dead. End of story."
ALAN CATLIN has been publishing since the 1970s, from the mimeos to the Internet. His latest full length book of poetry is Alien Nation. He is working on another collection of thematically related poems under the title Beautiful Mutants.