Lady Justice on the Dark Side
“Looks quiet for now,” Ox, my partner for the last five years, remarked as we patrolled the Midtown neighborhood in our old black and white.
In the last week, there had been two drive-by shootings resulting in the deaths of two young girls, ages six and ten. Understandably, the community was incensed by these tragic murders. One local pastor labeled the shooters as ‘terrorists’ and compared them to the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden.
The chief had pulled out all the stops, cancelling vacations and authorizing overtime, to put as many officers on the street as possible to calm the jittery residents and discourage any further shooting sprees.
Ox and I had pulled a rare evening assignment on top of our regular daily patrol.
As we cruised by the site of one of the attacks, we saw the memorial that had been erected for the ten-year-old victim. The flowers, teddy bears and candles brought back bitter memories of similar memorials for two young black men that had been slain by Kansas City police officers just a few short weeks earlier.
Those two officers were Ox and me.
While both of those incidents had been ruled ‘justified,’ there still remained an undercurrent of unrest in the black community.
“Still having nightmares?” Ox asked, referring to the recurring dreams of being burned at the stake by the brother of one of the victims, which had haunted me in the wee hours of the morning.
“Now and then,” I replied, “but they’re getting farther apart. How about you?”
“Not really nightmares, but I still wake up in the middle of the night and replay the incident with Tyrell Jackson over and over again, wondering if there was something I could have done differently, but it always comes out the same way. I’m trying to make peace with myself, but it’s hard to do.”
Suddenly, the radio came to life. “Car 54, shots fired in the 3200 block of Myrtle. Please respond.
I keyed the mike. “Car 54 responding. We’re two blocks away.”
Ox flipped on the lights and siren, made a U-turn and sped down 31st to Myrtle.
Turning onto Myrtle, we spotted a black van a block away and heard the crack-crack of an automatic pistol.
We were a half block away when the van pulled from the curb, burned rubber and fish-tailed down the street.
Ox stepped on the gas and as we passed by the house that had been riddled with bullet holes, I noticed that it was a board-up.
“Why would someone shoot up an abandoned house?”
“Damned if I know why these creeps do anything they do,” Ox replied. “Maybe somebody they were chasing is holed up in there.”
The van headed down Linwood, turned onto Benton and headed north.
A few blocks later, the van pulled to the curb, two guys bailed out and sprinted into the courtyard of the old Victorian Apartments.
Ox pulled in behind the van and I called in our location and requested back-up.
The Victorian Apartments had once been a grand old structure, undoubtedly the home of many of Kansas City’s elite back in the forties and early fifties. As the demographics of the neighborhood changed over the years, the affluent moved away and the building was sold to an out of town investor who turned it into Section 8 rentals.
The once manicured lawn was now bare dirt and graffiti covered the walls. There was a low brick retaining wall that separated the courtyard from the street. Once inside, the buildings themselves formed a horseshoe around the courtyard, and in the center were the remains of what was once a beautiful fountain.
We stepped out of the cruiser and cautiously approached the entrance to the property. Peering in, we saw one of the shooters enter the door of the center building.
“There!” Ox said, pointing. “Let’s get him!”
“Shouldn’t we wait for back-up?” I asked, grabbing his arm.
“No telling how long until they get here. Let’s at least get the guy trapped inside the building. I’ll go around back, you watch the front and when help comes, we’ll find the guy.”
Just then, a green dot appeared on my chest. Ox and I saw it at the same time.
“Laser sight!” he shouted, pushing me to the ground.
A second later, I heard the report of a rifle and felt the slug whiz past my head.
“Quick! The fountain!” Ox said, helping me to my feet.
We sprinted to the edge of the concrete wall that had once held sparkling water in a pool and crawled inside just as another volley bit into the statue behind us.
Once inside, we found ourselves in about a foot of disgusting water that was most likely deposited there by the last rain. Trash and garbage floated on top and I could only guess what was lying underneath.
We had just hunkered down, out of the line of sight from the shooter, when another volley slammed into the pool from the other direction.
“Holy Crap!” Ox muttered. “They’ve got us in a cross-fire.”
Then I remembered the old board-up house on Myrtle. “That wasn’t a drive-by shooting. That was a decoy to lure us into a trap and we fell for it. They were hunting cops all along.”
Ox peeked over the wall drawing another round of fire that was close enough to pelt us with chips of concrete.
“We’ve got to get them to back off or it’s just a matter of time until one of them gets lucky,” Ox said pulling his .45. “You fire some rounds at the shooter on the south and I’ll fire at the guy on the north. Maybe we can keep them busy until help arrives.”
I pulled my revolver and fired a few rounds and Ox did the same. I breathed a sigh of relief when there was no return fire.
Then, there it was again — the green dot on Ox’s back, and it was coming from the east building. They had us surrounded on three sides.
I pushed Ox to the side, heard the crack of the rifle and felt the searing pain as the bullet pierced my skin.
There was another shot, and the last thing I remembered before passing out was hearing my partner scream over the sound of approaching sirens, and feeling his warm blood splatter against my face.