by Ski Ingram
It started out just like any other day, kind of slow. We checked a few places but couldn’t find anyone worth taking to jail. What we really wanted was to get one or two early and then
coast for the rest of the day. After all it had been a very busy week and this was our last day of work so why wear ourselves out before we start our weekend. My partner, Jeff Arndt, and I worked what is called the “Felony Drug Car”. Our job was to look for and arrest the sleaze balls that sell “crack” cocaine to kids or anyone else for that matter. In fact, we would arrest any drug dealer, we weren’t particular.
There was only one catch to doing our job. The chief. He wanted us to arrest hypes. So, we arrested hypes. As long as we got two or three a week the chief was happy and let us do the job we loved to do, arrest sleaze balls. So, we were looking for a hype or two then we could relax and get a couple of drug dealers. That way the chief would be happy and so would we. The only people that wouldn’t be happy would be the dealers and the users, but I couldn’t help that.
After driving around town for a while we heard a call that three males were using drugs in the alley behind 1444 Parade Ave. Being close, we drove toward the alley. Sure, enough there they were, but they were only using marijuana. We took all three to jail, booking two for being under the influence of alcohol, and one for being under the influence of alcohol and marijuana.
By the time we had finished with those guys it was 11:30 am. After leaving the station Jeff drove over to 5th and Daisy Ave. It’s an area where mostly illegal aliens sell drugs. We saw a male Mexican walking towards us with his head down looking at something he was holding in his hand. He wasn’t paying any attention to us; in fact, he didn’t even notice us until he almost
walked into the side of our car.
I saw him get this startled look on his face, then he took off. He started running just as fast as he could with me running right behind him just as fast as I could. I was chasing him westbound on 5th Street as he ran down the sidewalk. Jeff was following us in the car. Jeff turned into the alley in hopes of blocking his path so that way I could catch the idiot. When Jeff turned into the alley and blocked his path. instead of stopping, the guy attempted to jump over our car. But he missed and landed on the hood. He then rolled off and fell on the ground. He was on one side of the car and I was on the other. As I was running around the car and Jeff was getting out of the car the crook jumped over a fence.
He then was running through someone’s front yard with us still after him separated by a 3-foot-high chain link fence. After running the length of the yard, the guy tried to jump over another 3-foot-high chain link fence, He missed and fell right on his face. We had him now. He had no place to go. He started running between the house and the 3-foot-high chain link fence. After running about 6 feet, he ran into a 5-foot-high chain link gate. The guy then stopped and threw something over the gate and into the backyard. He then turned and tried to run back through us in order to get away. Now I am 6’4″ 210 lbs., Jeff is about 6’3″ 220 pounds, and the crook was about 5’7″ 160 pounds. Jeff who was running at full speed ran right into the crook. I who was also running at full speed ran right into Jeff. We all went crashing through the 5-foot-high chain link gate.
Jeff and I were in the dirt wrestling with this guy in order to get him handcuffed. All of a sudden two great big barking and growling dogs appeared out of nowhere. Both Jeff and I jumped up and grabbed one leg each. We then dragged the crook past the gate just before the dogs could bite his face off. After getting the crook handcuffed and the barking and growling dogs in the house, we all went into the backyard looking for the object the crook had tossed over the gate. After a short search I found it, a “Double Bubble” gum wrapper with 4 large and 4 small rocks of cocaine wrapped up inside.
As we led the crook out of the backyard to where our car was parked, we were met by about 50 citizens. They all began to clap and hoot and holler. Some were patting us on the back and saying
what a good job we were doing and how the department needed more men like us. After putting the crook in the car, I asked a few people to write a letter to the chief. I don’t think any of them did. Half the day was shot and we still hadn’t gotten the chief a hype. We needed to get at least one. Jeff came up with a great idea, or so we thought. I would drop him off in an alley across the street from where we knew a lot of hypes bought their dope. Jeff would find a place in someone’s backyard where he could either watch the drug deals going down or see where the hype went to use his heroin. We would then be able to arrest him for being under the influence of the drug thereby making the Chief happy. While Jeff was watching the bad guys, I would be in the car ready to pounce at any given moment. Great idea or so we thought.
Yeah, that’s what we thought. Jeff sat behind a fence for over 2 hours while I drove around the area stopping all the people, he told me to. In all that time Jeff didn’t see one drug transaction and I didn’t stop one hype who was loaded. Just before 3 pm when we were about to call the whole thing off and get some lunch, I was contacted by a girl who said a gang fight was going on one block away. Not wanting to go over there and leave Jeff by himself, I called Communications and told them to send a squad car to check it out. The car they sent was about 5 miles away. Then Karen Daeley said she would go. I had just been informed that there were 5 blacks and 5 Mexicans fighting with pipes and 2x4s. I was also told that one guy looked like he was going to die. Armed with that information I decided that I needed to go and help Karen out. I told Jeff what was happening since I thought he might want to help as well. After he told me he wanted to watch some more and not give up his hiding place, I drove over to the fight.
When I got there the black guys were gone and all I saw was one Mexican holding a 4-foot piece of bloody pipe and another Mexican lying face down on the sidewalk in a growing pool of blood.
There were also three or four black people standing there who looked as if they had just gotten out of church. After getting the Mexican with the pipe to put it down, I walked over to the one
on the ground, checked to see that he was still breathing and then called paramedics. I then informed Communications that everything as the scene was Code 4 and I would handle the problem myself. I then contacted a nicely dressed black lady and asked her if she had any idea what had happened. As she was telling me that she didn’t know any more than I did the Mexican, later identified as Ramirez, began to drag away the Mexican who was bleeding on the sidewalk. He was later identified as Alto. Fearing that Ramirez might cause Alto more harm I told him to leave him alone. Indicating that he didn’t speak English Ramirez kept trying to pick up Alto’s unconscious body.
Every time Ramirez tried to pick up Alto, he would drop him on the sidewalk. Alto, who weighed about 220 pounds. was just too heavy for Ramirez’s 150 pounds. I couldn’t convince Ramirez to leave Alto alone so I pushed him away from Alto who by this time was regaining consciousness and trying to get up on his own. I was trying to keep Alto from getting to his feet because every time he tried, he fell down and hit his already-split-open head on the sidewalk. While I was trying to keep Alto on the ground Ramirez would come up and grab my arm and try to pull me away. Each time he did that I’d push him away from me. After he grabbed me the second time, I pushed him hard enough to knock him to the ground. Each time I pushed Ramirez, Alto would try to get to his feet and fall and hit his head. I suddenly realized that a crowd of black people were gathering and they were telling me to leave the Mexicans alone. I guess they thought that I was the one who had split Alto’s head open for they were yelling things like “stop him” and “police brutality.” I looked around some more and noticed that I was the only white person there, I also knew that I was in an area where I had taken a lot of these people or their relatives to jail. In short, I didn’t see any friendly faces. I immediately called for help.
While I was talking on the radio Ramirez and another Mexican had gotten Alto to his feet but Alto was too heavy and they all went crashing to the ground. I then pushed Ramirez away and had to physically hold Alto on the ground. Ramirez came up from behind me and pushed on my back almost knocking me onto Alto. By this time, I was losing my patience with the little Mexican and I gave him a big push which knocked him about 10 feet back. When I turned around to Alto the other Mexican was trying to drag him off. When I moved in his direction it scared him so much, he dropped Alto to the sidewalk.
The first cop to show up to help me was Ray Faraca. By the time he arrived there were about 100 black people yelling and screaming at me. Ray put out another call for help and then ran into the crowd to where I was. We were completely surrounded by this time. While I held Alto down, Ray kept Ramirez and the other Mexican off my back. This only angered the crowd, which seemed to double in size every second. The crowd kept getting closer and closer to us. Ray began to swing his baton wildly in an attempt to keep the crowd as far back as possible. I was beginning to get a little worried that Ray and I wouldn’t make it out of this alive. I began to think back to the movie “Zulu”, when the English soldiers are surrounded by Zulu natives and all you could hear were the natives yelling “Zulu, Zulu, Zulu”.
It was just like in a Cowboys and Indians movie. You think the Indians are going to win when you suddenly hear the cavalry’s bugle, except I heard a siren. It was the calvary. They were coming, we were saved!
About ten police officers showed up. We were still outnumbered about 20 to one, but the crowd stayed put. It took four of us to hold Alto down and get him handcuffed so the paramedics
could bandage him up and then rush him off to the hospital. During the fight with Alto, Sanford Howard lost his watch. I later learned that Ray saw it fly out of the group that was struggling with Alto to get him handcuffed. He also saw Ramirez pick it up and hand it to the other Mexican. When Ray asked Ramirez who the watch belonged to, Ramirez said it was his brother’s. Ray, not knowing any better, let it go at that. We got Alto off to the hospital and arrested Ramirez for battery on a police officer (me) and for stealing Sanford’s watch. When we got Ramirez to the station and gave him a breath test, we found that his blood alcohol level was .20. That’s pretty drunk.
After we finished with the riot Jeff and I decided to go to lunch. It was 4 pm and we were hungry. On our way back to the station, we were flagged down by a guy who said he just saw someone commit a burglary. To make a long story a little shorter I’ll just say we caught the guy as he was trying to sell about $400.00 worth of power tools for $20.00, just enough money to buy one rock of cocaine. With a little investigation we discovered that he had stolen the tools from his employer so he could get money for drugs. Looking back on the day it turned out to be very rewarding. It started out slow but we put a rock monster in jail after we saved him from a pack of wild dogs. I almost lost my life trying to save a gang member from bleeding to death, and we put another drug addict in jail for stealing his boss’s tools. Not bad for one day. I wanted to be a cop for a few reasons. One, to help people, two, to put bad guys in jail, and three, for high adventure. Well, I certainly got my money’s worth that day.
These were the events of Nov. 13, 1988 in the city of Long Beach written that same day by Ski Ingram