Compliance, Complicity and Criminal Behavior
This is a true telling of a Saturday night spectacle that started with a car chase. Buckle up.
So these two peacekeepers are riding in a patrol car when this gray pickup pulls out in front of them. It’s dusk, but the officer sees a violation as plain as the light of day. He turns on his blue lights. His siren. The truck just speeds ahead.
Two miles later, the driver ditches the pickup and runs into some woods. One peacekeeper pursues him on foot, while the other cuts the truck’s ignition and tells the passenger riding shotgun to stay put. The passenger (we’ll call him Compliance) stays put.
Running hard, Criminal Behavior (we’ll shorten that to C.B.) leads the officer on a merry chase. C.B. is long and lean, and he’s making strides. He’s also apparently in familiar territory. There’s a ring of residences along the rural road where he dismounted, and C.B. knows his way around those yards like nobody’s business. He must know the homeowners, too. They and a crowd of some 50 others (we’ll call them Complicity) have moved away from their charcoal grills to cheer him on.
The officer, breathing hard, catches a glimpse around the corner and keeps running. They end up in a patch of trees, with C.B. laying low in some hedges and the officer telling him not to move. (Remember, darkness is falling. We don’t know what C.B. has in hands or his pockets. Or on his mind.)
“Stop. Don’t move! You’re about to get tased!”
C.B. jumps up and starts moving away, and the officer does as promised. Two-shirts worth of layers, however, work against the Taser. C.B. groans and rips the barbs out of the fabric.
A young woman comes up and starts screaming in the officer’s ear: “Leave him alone! He ain’t done nothing wrong!” She tells C.B. to run.
Next comes the pepper spray, but C.B. won’t stop trying to get away. Running again, the officer falls on some concrete and hits hard. So does his radio, and the channel somehow gets changed. But the officer is oblivious to all that, because he’s in the zone. He loops around a house where a tall man offers some help, telling him C.B. ran that way, across the highway.
“Blue jeans and white shirt, right?”
The officer takes off but hears his fellow peacekeeper calling him back, shouting for him to come back. He turns around and sees the officer pointing. Ah, he gets it now: “That son of a gun just lied to me.”
Someone in the crowd has just lied to the other officer, too, waving him off toward the woods, but the aiding and abetting doesn’t work out as planned. C.B. is crouched down by a grill, thinking the officers don’t see him. But they do.
And they know they have him now.
What they don’t know is what’s happening back in the radio room. Remember when that channel got changed? Well, the silence sends the dispatcher reeling.
“Are you 66 (ok)?”
“Are you 66?”
It’s a good three minutes before the officer realizes what’s happened and responds.
The sheriff is on his way now, as well as a passel of deputies. But they’re not there yet. It’s just the two peacekeepers, C.B. and Complicity, who’s starting to circle around, shouting threats and obscenities.
It gets rough, getting those cuffs on. Complicity is about to riot when a voice of reason comes out on the porch: “They’ve got to take care of what they’ve got to take care of,” he says.
Help arrives, but even in cuffs, C.B. still squirms and fights. Eventually he decides to go limp for the crowd. The uniforms carry him 50 yards to the patrol car where they have to wrestle his feet inside.
That’s when the peacekeepers turn around and see (really see) Complicity for the first time. Darkness has fallen, but that’s not what makes it hard to take in. It’s the huddling and videotaping, the yelling and cursing.
(Good thing they don’t overhear two in the crowd speak of getting their AK 47s and “taking care of these cops.”)
Later, as more peacekeepers arrive, the truth comes out. Ol’ C.B. has a rap sheet worthy of his name and an outstanding warrant for his arrest. But something else is also revealed amid the sea of blue lights and radio transmissions. Throughout the whole drama, Compliance doesn’t leave the pickup or the scene, although he has ample opportunity. Even more surprising, he doesn’t remove the marijuana blunt from his shoe and throw it out the window before the officer comes back.
I would like to say this story has a happy ending, and in many ways it does. There’s a wife, listening at home on the scanner, who gets to hug her law-keeping husband later that night. At the jail, a newly-arrived guest means one fewer fugitive for the Department of Corrections to hunt down next week.
But this tale of the times carries with it a question that continues to nag and to gnaw. Who can rest easy with Complicity still at large?
Kim Henderson is a freelance writer. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.