Street crime short stories #6
The Shreveport Police Department Criminal Investigations Division provided on duty detectives 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. Years later the third shift, dubbed Graveyard, was dissolved. Then later the second shift was suspeneded also. All detectives were assigned to day shift. If a major crime occurred at night, the sleepy detectives crawled out of bed and responded to the call.
I loved working the 11-7 graveyard shift! That is when most violent crimes happen. I wanted to be where the action was. While most honest and hard working citizens snoozed in the middle of the night, I was a team member with men and women serving and protecting them. I knew when the sun went down each evening thugs, thieves, drug dealers, rapists, robbers and murderers slithered out of their beds to roam and attack innocents.
If you speak to some of the current (gray haired) officers with S.P.D., some will say I was an ass. Others will say I was good and they respected me as a person and as a cop. Some will mention my nick name, Mace McGaha. That is another series of stories I will share with you soon. They may tell you I was a good cop but somehow trouble always followed.
Two years into law enforcement, I was now divorced. The job took its toll. I began dating a beautiful female cop. She had been in the Navy and was in the Navy’s recruiting films and photographs. Her street Sergeant was a real jerk. He was married, mean and a controlled alcoholic. He was despised by most of the rank and file. I will call her Brenda and her sergeant Bill Smith, not their real names. Once Bill had an affair with the chief’s secretary. He was drunk one night, went to her house and continued to drink late into the night. That night he beat her and tore off all her clothes. She ran from the house to a neighbor’s next door and called the cops. The officers escorted her back to her home and told Bill to leave. Nothing happened. No report, no internal affairs investigation, nothing.
Old Bill was attracted to Brenda and followed her on every call she made. He ogled her and flirted with her continuously. He begged her for a date. She was not interested in a relationship with him. It did not go over well when he learned she was seeing me. He hated me. When he was present on my calls, he stared and taunted me as much as possible. Since I was a detective, he had no authority over me. It made him hate me more. Brenda and I dated for a year and ended the relationship as good friends.
A few years went by and old Bill suddenly shot up the ranks. He was in the department for 20 or so years and never took the test for Lieutenant. Something triggered him. He took the test. He passed and with his years of service became the most senior Lieutenant. He then took the Captain’s test and passed. He was now a senior captain. The captain with seniority ahead of him failed the Major’s test. Old Bill took it and passed. Within two years he went from sergeant to major. He served his entire career on patrol and had zero management and investigative experience. The day he became commander of Criminal Investigations I knew my days as a detective were numbered. I was now married to Robbin but that did not matter to old nasty Bill. It took about a week for me to learn I was number one on his hit list. I enjoyed working nights away from him on dayshift. I rarely saw him in person but felt the crosshairs on my back.
It was fall. There was a slight chill in the air. We were busy working felony cases. It was an hour before I would be off duty and head home to my lovely wife. At 5:30 a.m. a patrolman downtown called for an on duty detective. I was the only one available and responded to his location beneath the Texas Street bridge. Seated in the rear of his unit was a small, young, white female rape victim. She was crying as I opened her door. I placed my overcoat on her shoulders. I asked her to sit in the front passenger seat of my unit while I was briefed by the officer. She reported two white males had taken her against her will to the bike path on the Clyde Fant Parkway near Stoner. The two men overpowered her, tore off her clothing and took turns in their car raping her. They left her to find her own way back. The city did not provide emergency phones along the bike trail. She walked all the way to the Riverfront and spotted the officer parked as he wrote a police report.
I started my unmarked unit and turned on the heater. She was cold and trembling. I followed procedure and flipped a new cassette tape into my small recorder. I took her statement. Here is how it went.
She was playing against her boyfriend at the Frisbee Golf Course on the Clyde Fant Parkway around 2:00 A.M. A black El Camino pulled into the nearby parking lot. Two young, white males got out carrying a Frisbee and a six pack of beer. They encountered the victim and her boyfriend and offered them a can of beer. They all began to play the Frisbee course and were having a great time. After a while they walked back to the parking lot to leave. Her boyfriend asked the suspects if they wanted to play pool at the Subway Pool Hall downtown. The suspects agreed and followed the victim and the boyfriend to the business.
The four of them played pool for an hour or so when she realized she was out of cigarettes. Since the place did not sell cigarettes, she asked her boyfriend for the keys to his car. She wanted to go to a gas station on N. Market to buy some smokes. He refused saying she was dangerous at the wheel and would wreck his car, like she had done with her own.
One of the suspects offered to take her in his El Camino. She asked her boyfriend if it was OK with him. He said sure and continued to play pool. She said the second suspect decided to tag along leaving the boyfriend behind. They did not take her to the gas station but instead turned south on the Parkway. They took her to the bike trail, dragged her from the car and took off her clothes. They opened the tailgate and made her lie in the bed of the vehicle. They made her perform oral sex on them and then took turns raping her. When they finished, they pushed her from the car and drove away. It was dark. She was unable to find her panties, only her jeans and shirt. She walked downtown until she spotted the officer’s car and reported her attack.
I explained I needed to transport her to L.S.U.M.C. to undergo a physical rape examination. Swabbings, hair and saliva samples would be collected to use in court as evidence against the suspects if identified and arrested. She began to shake her head in a negative manner. All she wanted to do was go home and take a bath. I told her the test was mandatory. Without it we would be unable to arrest the men responsible for her attack. She insisted she was raped but did not want to go to the hospital.
I used to work undercover as a cop. My job was to go to bars, drink beer and play pool while I gathered police intelligence. I told her I smoked at the time and purchased many packs of cigarettes from the pool hall. Almost every player back then smoked. The pool hall profitted from selling cigarettes. She changed her story at this point. Now her story was they did sell them but were out of her brand. I called headquarters and asked them to call the pool hall to confirm her story. I learned the pool hall had plenty of her brand in stock and never run out. The victim heard the dispatcher make the announcement. She exclaimed, “They are not telling the truth! They told me they were out of them!”
I tried to calm her. I asked why her boyfriend would allow her to leave in a car with two men they just met. She had no answer other than he was cool with them. When I told her again she would need to submit to the rape examination, she insisted she was not willing. I explained without it we were making a very weak case against the two suspects. A good defense attorney would shoot holes in her entire story. She began to cry and asked me to take her home. Since she was 18 and considered an adult, I had no choice but to oblige her request. She directed me to her home in Bossier City. I gave her my business card, walked her to her front door and told her to call if she changed her mind about the rape test. I returned to my unit and drove to the station. I wrote a detailed report and left work an hour late. I spent the day sleeping and spending time with my wife.
I reported to duty that night at 11:00 P.M. A strange feeling came over me as I walked in the building and headed for my office. The one I called my cave. I noticed Mark Johnson’s door was open. It struck me as strange because he worked dayshift. I popped my head in and spotted Mark and Danny Fogger typing reports. I spoke to them and started for my office again. Mark called out to me.
“Hold on Pat. You remember that rape case you washed out this morning on the Parkway?” We used the term “washed out” regarding cases when victims fail to cooperate and want the police to not do anything beyond reporting it.
“Yes I do. What are you guys doing here so late?”
“Hey Pat. Grab a chair. We need to talk. We are working that case, been on it all day. The Chief of Detectives ordered us to re-open the investigation.”
A sick feeling hit my gut like a baseball bat. I was queezy and lightheaded. Mark and Danny looked exhausted. The serious expressions on their faces made my palms sweat. I closed my eyes. All I could see was a giant grin on the face of Old Bill Smith.
Mark and Danny took turns walking me through the long day detailing every step they took in my case. I felt they were my high school teachers grading my work. My head throbbed. Even though I stopped smoking two years earlier, I wanted a smoke desperately. I knew my career was in serious trouble. I wondered if I was being busted back to patrol or worse, being fired. Mark was a former Marine serving three years during the same time I served. We never met until we sat next to one another in the Shreveport Police Academy. Later we were roommates at L.S.U. Baton Rouge.
They both knew Old Bill hated me and had me on his list. I am an awful poker player. My face turns red when I get excited or upset. They read my facial expressions and continued to amble along as they shared the events of the day.
Mark took the lead. “Pat, you know we don’t like working other detectives’ cases. The last thing we wanted to do was to armchair quarterback one of yours. We know you’re a good investigator but Smith called us in his office just before lunch and handed us the case file reports. We read the patrolman’s offense report and your supplemental investigative report. He ordered us to the conference room where we met the victim and her father.”
Here is how it went from there. When the victim got home, she asked her mother to put medicine on her back. When her mother saw a long abrasion along her spine, she asked how it happened. She told her mother she was raped in Shreveport. She said she flagged down a policeman and reported it. The officer called a detective named Pat McGaha to the scene. She told her mom she gave a recorded statement to McGaha but he refused to help. He was mean, told her it never happened and took her home.
The mother called the father, an Air Force high ranking officer. He was in Ohio at a special meeting. He was told his daughter was raped in Shreveport and the cops refused to do anything. He called the base commander and was flown back to Bossier within hours. When he returned home, he took his daughter to the base hospital. They treated her back abrasions and called Bossier Police to report the rape. Since the attack happened in Shreveport, they were instructed to go to L.S.U.M.C. for a rape test and report the case to S.P.D. They did as directed. The doctor identified redness and irritation in her vaginal area consistent with sexual assault. I.D. officers responded to the hospital and collected her clothing and the rape kit evidence. They transported the items to the North West Louisiana Criminal Laboratory in Shreveport for analysis.
My heart was pounding. I felt my face blush as he slowly unfolded each step of this terrible mistake I made. I wondered if I would be in the news and how I would explain this to my wife, family and friends.
Once the girl was released from the hospital, she was assigned a female companion, a volunteer with the local Y.W.C.A. The companion, victim and father came to the police station. They demanded to see the Chief of Police to file a formal complaint against the detective. Mark blinked as he slid the knife a little deeper into my heart. The chief called Major Smith to his office. He ordered him to review the case and take action. He demanded the case be re-investigated. Smith got right on it.
In the conference room, we met the victim, father and the lady from the Y . The father was extremely upset. He announced his intentions to have you fired. Major Smith assured him he would get to the bottom of this. He promised the father at the minimum, McGaha would be busted back to uniform patrol as punishment.
We read the reports again, listened to your recorded interview and went from there. We took another recorded statement from the girl without her father in the room. However, the lady from the Y was holding her hand.
I was thankful I was strong and had a healthy heart. Otherwise I would have stroked out.
Danny took over. We went to the pool hall. It didn’t take long to obtain the names and address of the two suspects. They were roommates living in a mobile home park in Haughton, LA. We got copies of their driver license photos from State Police and showed them to the victim. She picked both of them out of our photo line up. We then drafted arrest warrants for forcible rape and went to Bossier Parish Sheriff’s office. We linked up with their detectives and went to the mobile home park. We also secured a search warrant for their house and car. We impounded the black El Camino, arrested both men and booked them into the parish jail before transferring them to S.P.D. jail. We searched their house, recovered their clothing and booked it into the Crime Lab. We went to the jail and interrogated them separately. They said they were with the girl and had sex with her. We recorded their statements.
We were able to locate the victim’s boyfriend. We asked him to come to our offices. He did. We recorded his statement. His story matched both of the suspects’ stories. He said they had been at the Frisbee Golf course where they met the two guys in the El Camino. They next went to shoot pool at the Subway. One of the suspects was flashing his recently purchased tickets to the A.C./D.C. rock concert in Shreveport the following weekend. He offered to sell them to the boyfriend. The boyfriend did not have the cash. The girlfriend stated she would do “anything for the tickets”. The suspect with the tickets asked, “Anything?” She responded with, “Anything you want”. He asked if her anything included he and his partner. She said, “Yes, anything!” The boyfriend did not care as long as he got to see the concert. He told his girlfriend to get the tickets. The girl and the two strangers left in the El Camino to have sex. She never came back to the pool hall so he went home and crashed.
I asked if the suspects were still in jail.
Mark said, “Nope, we released them. Gave them their clothing and car back”.
What about the girl?
She was arrested for filing a false police report and for prostitution. Danny and Mark finally cracked smiles.
I was so upset. I wanted to hit them and hug them. Not sure what to do so I shook their hands. I was thankful Major Smith had selected them to work the case. Back then in investigations, there were some lazy, brown nosing duds. If two of them had taken the case, it could have taken a year for the truth to come out in court. I would have certainly been fired or bounced back to patrol as punishment.
Mark continued to smile as he eased the door closed. He spoke in a very low tone so no one could hear. Pat, your ears should have been burning all day! Old Smith was giddy when he learned the detective in question was you. He was on cloud nine! Once we had the suspects’ names, address and arrest warrants, he wrote a formal internal complaint against you. He could not contain his happiness. He went to every detective’s office bragging today was his lucky day! You screwed up and was being investigated by Internal Affairs. You would go back to evening shift patrol. He also typed your transfer orders and walked them to the chief’s office. The Chief signed off on them. Smith was jumping with joy. He went to Central Records and told everyone there he finally busted your ass! He was actually celebrating, Pat!
We knew all this. Once we arrested the girl, it was a pleasure to inform him you handled the case properly and professionally. You worked the case and solved it in an hour. It took Danny and me all day and all evening to finally put it to bed.
I thanked them once again and went to the back porch. I bummed a smoke from Gary Pittman. I knew Robbin would understand. I suspected Old Smith was crying in his beer at his favorite dive bar by now.
I had been a cop for eight years when I married Robbin. She knew I had been hurt in street fights several times. I received numerous stitches, scrapes and bruises. I was shot in the line of duty (that’s another story). Every minute of every day, she worried about me being hurt or killed.
I will never forget the time I kissed her good bye as I headed to work. She said to be careful and come back home. Then it hit me. I told her I was trained by the best. I knew how to be safe on the streets of Shreveport. However, I was not trained to protect myself from the dirty bastards I worked along side within S.P.D. I worried about those slime bags more than the thugs on the streets. As the years went by, she understood and agreed.