FORMER POLICE OFFICER FORGIVES HIS SHOOTER

(This article was published in Florida Today newspaper this date, Sept. 14, 2020.)

 

Police shootings often occur suddenly, becoming life-changing events. When the face of death suddenly bursts out of nowhere, there’s no time for studying the handbook. 

In 30 years as a police detective, I investigated or supervised numerous deadly situations, some ending up with my fellow officers lying naked on a steel autopsy tray. There’s no redoing that. I was one of the lucky ones who survived violence, mayhem and deadly showdowns, though I did have one close call in December 1965. In fact, I hold the distinction of being the only cop in the history of Miami-Dade who was shot by a woman.

Nobody forgets such moments.  My partner, Robert Lamont, and I got a tip that a fugitive from New York, wanted for auto theft, was hiding out in a second-story apartment in Miami. We checked it out. It was true. The subject was a white male age 22, with a past prison record. His background indicated non-violence.

We arrived and knocked on the apartment door. When a little blonde woman, age 35, cracked the door open, we showed our ID. She suddenly panicked and tried to slam the door. When we bullied our way inside, she backed off screaming, “Get out!” A frightened little kid was holding on to her leg, crying. I first looked behind the door and then a nearby closet, while Lamont ran down the hallway to see if the subject was hiding. Our guns were not drawn because we knew a 3-year-old kid was inside.

As I turned around, I heard a loud “crack!” The blonde lady was waving a rifle at me from across the room, screaming incoherently, “Get out, Get out!” I froze. I figured my life was over. The world changed for all of us in a split second. I extended my hands, ordering her, “Put your gun down!”

A strange feeling from the gunshot wound wracked my left thigh. With my hands extended, I pleaded with her not to shoot again. A million thoughts swirled through my head as she waved the rifle left and right, hysterically. My world was about to end, leaving my wife, my child, my mom, my police partners, that little kid, the hysterical woman, and my job if I did anything wrong. How could I neutralize this woman before anyone got killed? I quickly lunged back out the entrance door, following her order to “Get out!”

There was no time to ponder.

My partner had located the subject hiding on a balcony. He then disarmed the woman in a matter of seconds as I re-entered the partment, gun drawn. The baby was screaming. The woman was hysterical. Our lives were likely spared because her rifle stored only one bullet, which my partner snatched with his free hand. My left leg collapsed from the bullet wound.

I spent four days in the hospital with time to reflect and cogitate. It was time for hindsight.

One, I should never have served that warrant without my gun drawn. Two, I had been too concerned about the child, worrying about a stray bullet. Three, my world — and my family’s world — might have changed in a matter of seconds. Four: Luckily, the woman was a firearm novice, or my life would have ended at age 26. Five: Thank goodness the wanted fugitive was passive. And last, I was fortunate to have a great partner in Bob Lamont.

Eunice Molter, the woman who shot me, sent me a letter from prison, begging my forgiveness. She served two years.

And, yes, I forgave her. Why? Because I could.

Marshall Frank is a retired police captain from Miami-Dade County, author and frequent contributor. Visit marshallfrank.com.

 

 

 

 

A FRANK MOVIE REVIEW: “UNHINGED” – 9/10

“UNHINGED”  9/10

 

In a word:  Maniacal 

 

First Note: This was quite a treat watching a movie on the big screen after six months of cinematic withdrawals. The movie appeared at the now-open Oaks Theater in Melbourne, where we shared the cavernous room with three other unmasked strangers.

If you like hard core, powerful and terrifying movies, don’t miss this psycho thriller starring an overweight Russell Crowe who, for some unexplained reason, was angry at the entire planet. He meets up with a horn-honking mom stuck in traffic with while taking her ten-year old boy to school, who had no idea she had awakened the wrath of an out-of-control lunatic.  

The mom character is deftly played by South African Born actress, Caren Pistorius, who obviously shows her talent and ability to make terror scenes feel very real, particularly when trying desperately to protect her son.

In his quest to chase and destroy the mom and her boy, Crowe has us sitting on the edge of our seats while the frenetic victims are on screen doing everything possible to save their own lives.  With a few exceptions, this movie is fast-paced as almost everyone Crowe encounters meets a tragic end.

A few interspersed scenes slowed the pace a bit, but that was a good thing allowing audiences to catch their breath. And, if one looked hard enough, a few implausible errors could be seen, but it took nothing away from the movie.

It was a good wake-up call returning back to movie houses where they belong.

Probably no Oscars here, though Crowe was quite convincing in his role as a maniac.

I give this a 9 out of 10.

Unhinged (2020) – IMDb

READ: “THE YEAR OF DANGEROUS DAYS” (non-fiction)

It is rare that I will praise a new book release. But The Year of Dangerous Days is truly a great read, particularly for those who have followed the course of law enforcement and struggles with civil disobedience and crime in Miami in 1979 and 1981.

     Nicholas Griffin, a first-class writer, has authored four fiction novels, and three books of non-fiction. His new book, published by Simon and Schuster, has just been released. I finished it in two days, probably because so much of the content was familiar to me, when I was captain of Homicide in the late 1979 and into the 1980s when the world seemed to go crazy, with the business of drug crimes and bad guys out of control, the McDuffie killing by cops and the riots that followed, murder rates topping the national charts following the Mariel Boat Lift when 125,000 new and destitute residents landed at our shores, plus internal investigations of police officers suspected of corruption which led to FBI intrusion and indictments of cops.

     Old-timers and/or relatives and friends who lived through this era, will certainly find the book a gripping read. I thank Mr. Griffin for acknowledging me and what assistance I could offer – amid scores of other contributors — within a very complicated task.

     The book is available at book stores and Amazon.com, in hard cover as well as Kindle.

     To my friends, past and present, who lived through the era, be prepared for some eye-openers.

     Let me know what you think.     

 

(Check my web site marshallfrank.com for info about my 15 books.)

OFFICER CHAUVIN’S CHOKING MURDER: WHAT WAS THE MOTIVE.

Does anyone really believe that Minnesota Officer Derek Chauvin strangled George Floyd to death because he happened to be a black man? If so, I’ve got some palm trees to sell you in Fairbanks. 

     Old timers remember Paul Harvey as a famous talk-show host (and author) from 20th century best known for his alluring come-on, “Now, here’s the rest of the story.” There surely is more to the story of George Floyd’s untimely and torturous death on May 25th at the hands of Officer Derek Chauvin, that we yet know about.

     We all witnessed the horrendous violence that followed across the nation, which makes no sense because rioters were destroying their own neighborhoods where citizens had nothing whatsoever to do with the killing. Violent protesters gained nothing but non-stop media attention focusing exclusively on a single entity: Racism.

     Racism sells. It stokes the fires of discourse, valid or not.

     Such were the reasons for mega-millions of dollars worth of destruction in over seventy-five cities and nearly two dozen people killed, for nothing. Floyd’s killing exploded mass anger, demonstrations and attacks by rioters on city streets and neighborhoods all over America. People were led to believe Derek Chauvin’s motive was “racism,” pure and simple. According to news sources, at least twenty-one people have died in the riots, including 77 year-old David Dorn, a black Philadelphia retired cop, shot by burglars breaking in to a pawn shop. At least 55 businesses were invaded just in Philadelphia alone.

In all murder cases brought to court, proving motive is very important. So what was the motive in Mr. Floyd’s killing? Racism?

     I think not.

     All the actions (and inactions) of the people involved tell us that the killer and the victim knew each other because they had worked on and off for years at a local bar and restaurant, one as  a bouncer the other a security person. Interviews with some of the patrons acknowledged that the two knew each other.

     Officer Derek Chauvin did not make the arrest (passing counterfeit money). Chauvin was not on the scene until two rookie cops already had Floyd cuffed and subdued outside on the street. It was in this period that Chauvin took over Floyd settling on the street and began applying the deadly knee-to-neck on Floyd for over eight minutes. That’s no accident.

     For what purpose? Because George Floyd was black? I seriously doubt that. The crime clearly occurred in the presence of witnesses. Chauvin knew that. Through experience and background, Chauvin had to know that strangle-holds are deadly, especially after 60 seconds, yet eight minutes. Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck at least six minutes while alive, then two more after he was dead. That scenario tells me,( a thirty-year police veteran), the killing was deliberate.

     George Floyd was no saint. In this instance, he allegedly had tried to pass a counterfeit $20 bill. He had a number of run-ins with the law in his past, including a five year period in prison for armed robbery in Houston. Before that, Floyd had been arrested numerous times, with lesser sentences in jail, mostly drug crimes. According to the autopsy, Floyd was under the influence of drugs; Fentanyl and methamphetamine.  

     Meanwhile, Chauvin’s seventeen years on the force taught him the rights, wrongs and nuances of violent policing. During those eight long minutes, Floyd was pleading, “I can’t breathe.” Chauvin clearly had to hear that.

     I don’t know if Chauvin’s motive stemmed from very personal issues between the two. Perhaps Floyd had something on Chauvin. Perhaps, it had something to do with counterfeiting. Perhaps Chauvin was high. Floyd was certainly neutralized. The excessive force was unnecessary. A veteran seventeen-year cop isn’t going to risk his pension by arbitrarily deciding to kill another man already in restraints, in the presence of witnesses and cameras, just because he was black. Makes no sense.

     Decrying “racism” is to be expected. But I don’t believe “racism” had anything to do with this crime. We still need to know, “the rest of the story”

     Paul Harvey, where are you?

 

(Marshall Frank, is a retired police captain from Miami-Dade, serving 30 years,including 16 years in Homicide. He has authored 15 books fiction and non-fiction. Visit amazon.com or order direct from author for signed copies, at www.marshallfrank.com

WANNA BE A COP?

Here’s a story about a really bad cop.

     Imagine. You’re a career police officer (white) in a medium-sized city with five years on the job. Wife pregnant in 2014. You support your loved ones as well as the extended family in uniform. You back up other cops when their lives may be in jeopardy. You have testified in hundreds of criminal and traffic cases. A few times in your career, you have faced the barrels of pistols and shotguns, or other weapons.

     You give to the community not only with special activities at on holidays, but as role models for all citizens because you served your community well. You have been awarded special acknowledgements for gallant bravery doing your job. You have risked your life every day on the job.

     You would be ready at any time to save human lives, entering a house on fire, bringing kids to safety or pulling a crash victim from a burning car.

     Yes, some encounters became physical, not by your choice, but by the choice of lawbreakers. You might still have nightmares over killing a black teen who was trying to kill you. But it was, truly, an act of self-defense. No matter. That 18 year-old “boy” had just committed a strong-arm robbery and weighed over 300 pounds, and showed intent to kill you.

     As though on cue, the community ignited into a riotous uproar, declaring you to be a murderer, that the killing of that teen was an act of racism, pure and simple… because you were white and the kid was black. That was the only issue that mattered. Anything you ever did before in your dedicated years of service is null and void, like they never happened.

     Some news media people saturated the scene with cameras and reporters, making sure to get on-scene comments from citizens, many of whom are inspired by hatred. For some stupid reason, “protesters” decided to torch stores, cars and residences showing “unity” among fellow blacks. Cops were declared the “enemy.”

     It doesn’t end there.

     You were an officer who had an exemplary record, yet was declared guilty by segments of the news media and the angry mobsters, long before any court proceedings began. It stirred hatred. The city boiled over with violence. It didn’t matter that the behemoth “boy” had just robbed a grocery store, along with a smaller friend. You were caught off guard as the “boy” suddenly punched you officer in the face through the car window. Then the “boy” reached through and grabbed your gun, which discharged two times. A tussle ensued, the officer kept the gun.

     You were now obligated to arrest the criminal. It’s your job. As the boy started to walk off, you rightfully informed he was under arrest for a litany of felony crimes, including resisting arrest. “Stop! you hollered, gun in hand. The “boy” turned around, lunged forward and began charging you in a menacing manner. There was no choice. There was no time. You knew your life was in jeopardy. You fired several shots. The boy lay dead.

     Never mind that a half-dozen civilian witnesses, all black, later testified at a Grand Jury, that the officer was, indeed, innocent of any wrong doing. Two television media outlets went after ratings as journalists and entertainers from CNN and MSNBC, and The View, condemned the officer, mimicking the “boy’s” outstretched arms, shouting “hands up, don’t shoot.”  It was a lie. The “boy” never said that. It was made up, for effect. You were labeled a “killer” and a “racist” to satisfy them.

     Your name is Darren Wilson. You had been a Ferguson cop with a stellar record for five years. You grew up in multi-ethnic neighborhoods and particularly enjoyed working with blacks, according to a 2015 article in the New Yorker.

     The simmering remains. Just one year ago, the family of the deceased Michael Brown, hired lawyers to file suit against the city. After all, why not?

     Where is Darren Wilson today?  According to a recent interview, he’s living in a low-income neighborhood, incognito. Other than cheap labor, he can’t get a job. He owns a small house, but his name is not on the deed for self protection. When his baby daughter was born, he would not agree to release names in the family. They live in fear of retribution, for doing his job. His future is driven by protecting his wife and child, and to survive.

     Darren Wilson did nothing wrong. He did what was required of him as a police officer. He also saved his own life. Whatever goodness Wilson did in his life, has all been erased. His chances for prosperity and happiness are gone.   

     That’s what you call, a victim.

     Every encounter that leaves a black man dead at the hands of a cop in today’s world is a target on the firing line. The circumstances do not matter. Retribution matters. Police hatred matters. Chaos matters.

     Anyone out there wanna be a police officer today?

 

“A BOY WHO MATTERED” – (non-fiction) tells the story of a 58 year-old drug addict who died a lonely death after a lonely life. He was my son. Available at amazon.com or, signed copies available from the author, yours truly, free shipping. Just order from me at MLF283@aol.com and send check for $15 to P.O. Box 411841, Melbourne, Fl 32941.