by Ski Ingram
It was my first day in Vice, no that’s not true, it was Friday 16 October 1992, and I wasn’t supposed to start as a Vice officer until Monday night, October 19th. I started on Friday because I was anxious to do the job. Bob Van Der Meer was on loan to Vice from CCAT, (Career Criminal Apprehension Team). I was filling in for him at CCAT while he was in Vice. I was to start on the 19th, but I talked Lt. Dick Wood into letting me start on Friday night.
I wasn’t told how Vice did its job before I was put into a car and went to work. I think someone told me to sit back and watch and then later I would get a chance to pick up a “working girl.” So that’s what I did, I watched.
There were five of us, all in different cars, driving north on Long Beach Blvd. The team consisted of Sgt. Scott Robertson, Officers Collier, Harris, Van Der Meer and me. All of a sudden Harris pulled over and picked up a girl. After she got in the car, we all followed him until a deal for sex could be made. We then all swooped in to make the arrest.
A short time later we saw Terry Hall working. Terry is a male transvestite prostitute who had been working the streets of Long Beach longer than I had. On this day he was dressed in a tight pants outfit that had holes placed in certain areas which made him appear rather sexy, if you didn’t know he was a guy and didn’t get too close.
Bob tried to pick him up by acting as if he were drunk. He parked his car and staggered over to a pay phone near where Terry was advertising his wares. It didn’t work. I tried to pick him up hoping that he wouldn’t recognize me out of uniform, but he wouldn’t get in my car.
It was then decided that we would “car date” him, wait until he makes a “date” with some poor SOB and then arrest them both after we watched them perform a lewd act in public. We all took up positions where we could watch Terry when he picked up a date. We would then follow them to wherever they went to complete a sex act in public.
It was decided that Harris should take his prisoner to the station and book her. Sgt Robertson, who had paperwork to do, followed Harris to the station and helped book his prisoner. This left Van Der Meer, Collier and me to arrest Terry Hall and his “date”.
We had only been watching Terry for about 15 minutes when a “date” arrived. His name was Paul McCarthy, a male white, 35 years old with a wife and 2 kids. He was 5’10” tall, with brown hair, blue eyes and a very bad complexion. I watched as he pulled into the parking lot of Norm’s restaurant at the corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Long Beach Blvd. We all watched as Terry walked over to the driver’s side of the car. They talked for a moment then Terry leaned in the window and kissed McCarthy full on the lips. After that Terry walked to the passenger side of the car and got in. McCarthy then drove all over the south side of Long Beach before stopping in the parking lot of the Scottish Rights Temple near 10th and Pine.
In order to observe Terry Hall and his “date, I hid behind a cinder block wall just north of where McCarthy had stopped. I could see Terry Hall turn and face McCarthy and then lean over with his head disappearing in the area of McCarthy’s lap. I could see Terry Hall’s head going up and down but could not see exactly what was happening. Bob Van Der Meer, who was hiding behind a truck parked next to McCarthy’s vehicle, could see the entire sex act.
I observed Hall’s head come up and then the passenger door open. Terry leaned out of the door and spit what was later found to be semen into a facial tissue which he dropped onto the ground. Bob then motioned to me that we should move in and make the arrest. I ran to the driver side of the vehicle while Bob stayed on the passenger side. McCarthy’s window was down about six inches. I showed him my badge and identified myself as a police officer. I also shined my flashlight into the interior of his car.
McCarthy turned his head in my direction with a look of horror on his face. He was pale and I could see that he was breaking out into a sweat. I got a mental picture of him having a heart attack right there on the spot. It looked to me as if McCarthy was seeing his life as he knew it passing right in front of his eyes. At that same moment I got the impression that McCarthy was beginning to think that his life, as he knew it, was about to end.
I then recognized the fight or flight response beginning to show on McCarthy’s face. I was not in the least afraid that McCarthy would fight. He looked as if he wouldn’t be able to fight his way out of a wet paper bag. Just as I reached the conclusion that he wasn’t going to fight when he began to run. In one quick movement he had the car started and in gear There was a brick wall a few feet in front of where McCarthy had parked, and the pick-up truck next to him on his right. The only avenue of escape was to his left, and that’s where I was standing.
McCarthy turned the steering wheel hard to the left and punched it. I jumped back but wasn’t fast enough, McCarthy’s car ran over my right foot as he sped away. Instead of making a U-turn and leaving the way he entered the lot, McCarthy drove north in the alley between Pine Ave. and Locust Ave. Bob and I ran after him, not really expecting to catch him, but only to see where he was going so that we could put that information out on the radio so that assisting officers could catch McCarthy before he got too far away.
As I reached the alley, I saw McCarthy’s car speeding north. The car then made a sudden stop. I then remembered that the alley McCarthy decided to flee in was a dead end, his only escape was back the way he had come. Bob was running down the alley toward McCarthy’s vehicle. I followed at a much slower pace as my foot was in pain from when McCarthy had run over it a few moments before.
Bob was about 50 feet, and I was about 10 feet into the alley when McCarthy started backing up. Backing out is the wrong term to use. He didn’t just back out, he sped out while driving in reverse. As he sped backwards McCarthy lost control of his car and began to swerve from side to side. He was all over the alley just barely missing the buildings on the east and west side of the alley.
I could see Bob in the middle of the alley running to the east side of the alley, but he had nowhere to hide. I had nowhere to run as McCarthy’s car came racing toward me. I backed up against a wrought iron fence on the west, trying to squeeze through the bars to escape McCarthy’s speeding and out of control car.
As McCarthy passed Bob, the front end of his car whipped to the right and hit Bob’s knee. I saw Bob fall and was sure that he was seriously hurt. I had no time to react, however. McCarthy’s car was still whipping back and forth, only now it was headed right toward me. I made myself as thin as possible, wishing I was small enough to fit through the bars.
As the car passed me, missing me by no more than inches, I could see the look of terror on McCarthy’s face. He was completely out of control. I could see that he would do anything he needed to do to escape from that alley. After he passed me, I thought for sure that he was gone. But before I had a chance to open my eyes, I heard a loud crash. When I looked up, I saw that McCarthy had run into one of the garages facing the alley.
The garage door was knocked off its frame and completely destroyed as was the Volkswagen that was parked in the garage. There was also extensive damage to McCarthy’s car, so much that I thought there was no way he would be able to drive any further.
I was looking directly into McCarthy’s eye as I walked towards his car. I was pointing my gun at him and telling him to turn off his car. I could see that McCarthy was scared, but I didn’t think he was capable of moving his car any further. I had taken about a step and a half towards his car when McCarthy threw the car in drive and stepped on the gas. As McCarthy’s car pulled away from the garage, he took part of the garage door with him. I jumped back out of the way to keep from being hit again. As McCarthy drove passed me, all be it much slower than before, I again pointed my gun at him and said, “If you don’t stop right now, I’ll kill you”.
I then saw a look of defeat on McCarthy’s face. He stopped his car and rested his head on the steering wheel as if he was about to cry. I opened the door and grabbed McCarthy by the shirt, dragging him out of the car. I put him on the ground, handcuffed him and checked him for weapons. As I was doing this, Bob was getting Terry Hall out of the passenger side and handcuffing him.
After Terry Hall and McCarthy were handcuffed, back-up units began to arrive. I then realized that something was wrong with my foot. I had known that McCarthy’s car had run over my foot when he pealed out of his parking place, but it wasn’t until the suspect was in custody and the danger over that I began to really feel the pain.
Bob was standing near where McCarthy was lying on the ground when he heard McCarthy say “I was scared. I’m married. I didn’t want my wife to know I got a blow job from her.” Bob leaned down close to McCarthy and told him that the “her” he was talking about was a “he” McCarthy then said, “I didn’t know it was a guy, I was scared.”
A short time later paramedics arrived and took Bob to St. Mary’s hospital. Before Bob got into the paramedic van, he asked someone to collect the tissue of sperm that Terry Hall had spit out of McCarthy’s car. No one would do it, so Bob got out of the paramedic’s van, hobbled over where Terry Hall had dropped the tissue. He picked it up. He kept it with him at the hospital until he was able to put into evidence.
I stayed at the scene to ensure that everything was being investigated properly. About 15 minutes later Sgt. Mike Flannigan saw me limping back and forth in the alley and ordered me to the hospital. I drove my own car there, with much difficulty as it was becoming more painful to put any pressure on my foot.
While Bob and I were being treated at the hospital, Gordon Coulier got a statement from Terry Hall. He said, “I was talking to a friend in the parking lot when a man ran up to me with a gun”.
He also said that he didn’t know that the guy was a cop. McCarthy after being advised of his rights refused to talk to anyone but his lawyer.
At the hospital, both Bob and I were in a lot of pain. The excitement had worn off and the reality of what had happened was beginning to sink in. One thing was for sure, we were not lonely. There was a steady parade of concerned officers stopping by to see if we were alright and if we needed anything. It was nice to have so many friends that were concerned with our welfare, but with every new arrival the story had to be retold. I was now tired of the pain in my foot and the telling of how the injury happened.
After Bob and I were X-rayed, we were met by Doctor Joyner, an intern. He told Bob that the tendons in his knee had been torn away from his kneecap, and that he would be off work for about 6 weeks. He told me that my right foot was broken and that I would be off work for about 6 to 8 weeks. He then put a temporary cast on my foot, handed me a pair of crutches and sent me on my way.
Instead of going home Bob and I went back to the police station and started writing our reports. It was then that I learned of all the crimes that McCarthy was charged with. I also learned that McCarthy had “blown” .13 and .12 on the Breathalyzer. He was charged with felony drunk driving among his other crimes of assault with a deadly weapon, lewd conduct, and hit and run.
When the paperwork was complete, we went home. I was taken home by Warren Harris, who had given me a ride to work that night. We didn’t get home until about 4 a.m. Needless to say, Diane was a little worried, but I’ve been late before. It wasn’t until she heard Warren at the door asking if I was going to be able to make it upstairs that she got really worried. Telling her what happened was the last time that I had to tell the story that night.
I laid in bed all weekend with that cast on my foot. It was very uncomfortable. I just couldn’t seem to find a position that relieved the pain. On Monday morning Diane drove me to Dr. Joe’s (Alban) office in Long Beach. He is the doctor that repaired my left shoulder. He did a great job and I trusted him to know what he was doing.
Dr. Joe wanted more x-rays, so he took off the cast. As soon as he did, I felt better. After the X-ray was taken, I used crutches to move from the X-ray room to the doctor’s examination room. I sat there feeling just fine for the first time in three days. When Dr. Joe came back to the room carrying my X-ray, he asked how I felt. I told him I felt great. I also told him that my foot didn’t hurt anymore, and I was sure I could stand on it. He said, “go ahead, it’s not broken.” I later decided that Dr. Joyner had graduated from medical school on the affirmative action program.
A few days later I got a call from someone at St. Mary’s Medical Center. They wanted to know how I rated the treatment I had received from the emergency room. Told them it was just fine except for the doctor misdiagnosing my injury and putting a cast on my foot when it wasn’t broken.
On January 19, 1993, Warren Harris and I showed up in Dept. 3 in the superior court of Long Beach for McCarthy’s preliminary hearing. Judge Elvira Austen was presiding. I had been in her court on many occasions, and I thought this time would be nothing special.
Before the hearing started McCarthy’s attorney, Mr. Donald L. Herzstein, contacted me and tried to talk me into changing his client’s charges. He wanted me to ask the prosecutor to drop the assault with a deadly weapon charge and only charge him with drunken driving. He said that McCarthy didn’t know I was a cop when he did what he had done, so he wasn’t guilty of that crime and there was no way I could prove that he did. He went on to say that since McCarthy had car insurance, I could sue McCarthy and get some money out of this. Needless to say, I was shocked that he would try something like that. I told him I thought he was a sleaze and to leave me alone or I would report him to the judge.
I got on the stand and told the story one more time. After I testified, McCarthy got on the stand. He told Elvira that he didn’t know that Terry Hall was a female transvestite prostitute and that he didn’t do anything with “her” anyway. They were only talking when these two guys with guns ran up to the car. He said that both guys were really big and scary, and he thought that they were there to rob him, so he ran. We needed Bob to testify to what McCarthy said in the alley about being scared that his wife would catch him with a whore and not that he thought he was getting robbed. The problem was that Bob was still off work with his bad knee and wasn’t available to testify.
After McCarthy testified, Elvira made her decision. She said that she had known both Bob and me for years and if she was surprised in an alley by the two of us, she would be scared too. She also said that she didn’t believe McCarthy’s story about just talking to Terry Hall, but we had no way of telling what had happened out there that night without Bob’s testimony. So, McCarthy walked. The prosecutor told me they would try again when Bob was able to testify.
On April 26th I returned to court for what I thought was the preliminary hearing on McCarthy’s ADW case, (assault with a deadly weapon). When I got there, I found that it wasn’t a preliminary hearing, it was a sentencing hearing. Somehow McCarthy’s attorney had convinced the prosecutor’s office that all Bob and I wanted was for McCarthy to plead guilty to drunk driving so that we could sue his insurance company. Again, I was shocked. I wanted this guy to pay for his crimes. I didn’t believe his story about not knowing we were cops. I didn’t care about making money, all I wanted was for McCarthy to go to jail.
Carol Rose, the prosecutor asked me if I wanted to testify at the hearing. I sure did. Here I was, once again telling my story. I told the whole story of what happened that night. I then went into great detail about when Bob and I tried to make the arrest. I told of how I ran up to the car and identified myself as a police officer. I described the look of terror on McCarthy’s face as he looked right at me. I described what I thought was recognition in McCarthy’s eyes when he thought he was about to be arrested, not robbed. I told how I repeatedly yelled at McCarthy that I was a police officer. How I had my badge around my neck, in plain view, and was shining my flashlight in his face.
I said that in my opinion there was no way McCarthy could not have known that Bob and I were police officers. I said that McCarthy was in the city preforming an illegal act in a public place, and when two people come up to him stating they were police officers there is a pretty good bet that that is just what they are, police officers.
I explained that in all my years as a police officer I had never heard of any crooks identifying themselves as police officers by shining flashlights at their victim and yelling at the top of their lungs. Most robbers want to be as inconspicuous as possible.
I then told how Bob and I chased McCarthy’s car into the dead-end alley after he fled from us, and how McCarthy sped backwards to get out of the alley and avoid arrest. I said that I didn’t know of any robbers that would chase someone into an alley to rob them and keep yelling at the top of their lungs that they were the police.
I explained how McCarthy, with total disregard for anyone’s safety, even his prostitute passenger, by driving his car in such a reckless manner while trying to escape. I told the court how McCarthy hit my partner’s knee and tore the tendons while he was trying to back out of the alley, and how Bob had been off work for 12 weeks.
I explained that even after McCarthy had crashed into the garage, he almost ran me over while still trying to get away. I told the judge that the only reason McCarthy stopped at all was that I told him I would kill him if he didn’t, and at that point he must have realized that there was no escape.
I then explained that at no time has McCarthy shown any remorse for what he had done. His sole purpose throughout this whole proceeding was to get off with the reduced charge of drunk driving. I testified how his attorney suggested at the preliminary hearing that if the charge of ADW was dropped that my partner and I could sue McCarthy’s insurance company and get paid for our injuries. I told the judge that I wasn’t interested in getting rich. All I wanted was for McCarthy to pay for what he had done. That he would know not to pick up whores in Long Beach nor run over the police in order to escape when he was being arrested. Mr. Herzstein asked me if I was accusing him of doing anything wrong. I told him that that wasn’t for me to say, I was only telling the court what had taken place.
He then asked why I hadn’t shot his client if I thought I was in so much danger. I told him that at no time did I have a clear shot at his client, and I did not want to risk the lives of innocent people no matter how much danger my partner and I were in. That shut him up and he asked no further questions of me.
A few days later I was informed by Carol Rose that the judge had sentenced McCarthy to one year in a work release program. This means that he has to stay in a half-way house every day for one year, the only time he is released is to go to work, only to return at the end of his workday.
He was also put on probation for three years and had his driving privileges suspended for three years. He was also directed to pay all fines and legal costs to the court as well as the cost of his board at the halfway house in which he will be living for the next year. The most important part of his sentence was the portion relating to Bob and myself.
McCarthy was ordered to “pay any civil judgments relating to this crime involving additional medical, pain and suffering, and punitive damages.” Well, McCarthy and his attorney got what they wanted, McCarthy stayed out of jail.
For the next couple of weeks, I kept thinking about what a light sentence McCarthy was given considering the crime that was committed. I then began to think about the danger he had put me and Bob in and the total disregard McCarthy had given to the other citizens of Long Beach. The more I thought about it the madder I got.
A few weeks later Bob and I contacted Attorney Joe Sheridan, Carol Rose’s husband, and hired him as our attorney to represent us in this case. A few weeks later we were told by our attorney that McCarthy didn’t have any car insurance and couldn’t pay for our pain and suffering. Joe then had the court order McCarthy to pay us for our pain and suffering out of his own pocket. I received a check in the mail from McCarthy every month until he had paid me $2000.00.