After the morning managers meeting at City Hall yesterday I walked to my work car that was parked on 4th Avenue West and noticed a new large crease up the side door. The damage was very fresh and probably will total over $2,000. I take good care of my assigned car and watch it closely. There wasn't a note left on the car and no one was around waiting to tell me they are the culprits. I kicked into cop mode and began investigating. It appeared a vehicle was backing from the loading docks at City Hall and backed across 4th Avenue West into my car.
I began asking City Hall maintenance staff if they had seen any vehicles leave the loading area recently. They hadn't. There is a camera at the old police desk that covers the entry door off of the Avenue. I had I.T. pull the video for me to watch. I checked with contractors working in City Hall. Other than a UPS and coffee delivery there was a local supply company that had been there. And then the golden key of information. Our parking desk had a good thinking St. Louis County employee stop and gives his card saying he had witnessed the accident, but the witness only saw that it was a white delivery van. The witness didn’t catch the plate or name of the company on the truck. He described the truck and explained the driver stopped after he hit my car, parked and walked into the 4th Avenue doors. The witness thought he came back inside reported the accident. So I would have him on video!
On a chance I called the delivery company's office and asked for the name and number of the person doing the deliveries to City Hall. They provided me his name and cell number. I called him and identified myself and asked what happened on the avenue. He immediately confessed and said he was in a hurry and was going to return to the woman's car he hit later. Keep in mind this was more than an hour after he hit my car.
I don't believe he was going to return......My sincere gratitude goes to a witness who cared enough to stop in and provide valuable information to help me solve the hit and run.
Use of Force
After the hit and run investigation I drove down to Michigan Street and at 1st Avenue West where I saw a drug deal go down. In full uniform, I jumped out of my car and three of the miscreants quickly left and I dealt with the guy with the pipe and drugs. He was obviously high and did not want to give me his pipe or drugs he was holding. He began backing away from me and as I grabbed on to him he took a swipe at me that I was able to avoid. I pulled out my pepper spray and ordered him to stop pulling away at which time he took another swipe at me. I gave him a quick shot of pepper spray to his eyes and I was able to get him under control and cuff him up. He had a fair amount of drugs on him and they were obviously affecting his ability to make good decisions.
As I was writing out a ticket for him I realized he and I were born a few days apart. It was obvious to me his lifestyle had taken a toll on his appearance. I would have put him at about 8 years older than he was. He was transported home and released with his ticket to appear in court.
This incident was a good reminder for me of how quickly situations can escalate and the need for the use of force in some situations. Even though I was well within our policies and procedures, I realized what our officers are likely feeling because of our recent excessive force case. As I was struggling with this guy I remember thinking, “I wonder what the people around me are thinking I am doing?" Keeping our community safe is tough and complicated job. I have tremendous respect for the job our police officers have.