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James D.F. Samdavid1

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Routine Stop Turns Deadly
By James D.F. Samdavid1
Sunday, March 31, 2002

Rated "G" by the Author.

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Routine Traffic Stop

Names and addresses have been changed. Based on a true story.

It was 3:45 a.m. and traffic was very light on the streets. That is until I saw the 1968 red Oldsmobile driving slowly down Sheridan Road. The driver had almost entered into the next village (Wilmette, Ill.), when I turned on my portable red light sitting on top of my dash and placed my spotlight into his rear view mirror. He was driving very slowly, approximately fifteen miles per hour. The posted speed limit was thirty-five. He was driving on State Rte 42, a winding road that ran through our Village, just one hundred feet west of Lake Michigan.

There was no other traffic at this time of the morning, but the low speed concerned me. Usually when a vehicle was observed driving as slowly as this one, there was a problem. Sometimes the driver was found to be under the influence, and at times they were even found to be ill.

I turned on my red light knowing that I would be alone on this stop. I was working by myself this early Saturday morning and so far it had been what we call a slow night. There had not been any traffic on the radio for quite a while and I knew the closest squad was at least ten to fifteen minutes away from my present location. I could have just let the Oldsmobile go, after all he was exiting our village and I had no obligations to the driver. Or did I?

The red Oldsmobile pulled over as soon as I put the spotlight onto his rear view mirror. I was driving an unmarked blue Ford 1968 station wagon that had a spot light mounted on the windshield side post and a portable red mars light on top of the dash. Of course I had the usual equipment in the squad, radios, shot gun, the things you would find inside any other police vehicle. The big difference was the squad was unmarked, and had regular license plates, instead of the standard municipal registration you would find on marked units.

My hat was sitting on top of the dash on the right side. We were required to wear our hats when we made stops. However, It was the hat being left on the dash that played a major part in what happened in the next few minutes. This guy had stopped so fast I did not have time to put on my hat, so I left it on the dash as I opened my drivers’ door and approached the Oldsmobile.

I had no idea what was in store for me as I walked up to the vehicle. The driver had pulled his vehicle over into a gas station driveway located at 10th and Sheridan just on the border of Wilmette and Kenilworth. I walked up to the driver’s door and advised the driver (a white male) that I was a police officer and asked for his driver’s license.

I got the surprise of my life when I saw the 45 automatic in his right hand and that he was pointing it at me! "Easy, now easy! (I said to the driver) I am just concerned about your driving and why you are going so slow!”

I must say I was very scared at this point, but could not let this person know that. "What is going on and why the gun?" I asked. (Trying to be calm and professional.)

"I am going to blow your damn head off!” Was his next comment. I knew if he wanted to, he could shoot me at anytime and there was nothing I could do about it. There was no way I could defend myself without taking risks that would most likely have been fatal. This was not a very good feeling, believe me. I had no idea what he had done or why he was willing to shoot a police officer!

I had to do something quick. I looked back toward my squad and yelled, "Don't shoot him, don't shoot!” My hat was sitting on top of the dash on the right side and it looked like someone was in my squad in the passenger seat. When the driver of the Oldsmobile looked back, the glare of my spotlight light was directed squarely into his side mirror, making if difficult, if not impossible for him to get a clear view of my squad. Because it was hard for him to see, my yelling fooled him and he laid his 45 auto down onto the seat and raised his hands.

I pulled him out of the front seat and placed him face down onto the street and in doing so, I gave an order to my so-called partner. “Keep him covered while I cuff him.” I cuffed him and walked him back to my squad and placed him into the back seat. "Where did your partner go, he asked?” "What partner?” I answered.

I had not called in the stop and no one knew I was in danger. I was very lucky and was able to talk my way out of a very dangerous, so called routine stop that morning.

After a follow up investigation, it was found that the driver had beaten his wife during an argument in a village north of ours and he thought that I was aware of it. He was not going to be taken without a fight, but after being stopped by two police officers, he was not willing to die for a simple charge of battery.

We used that stop and what could have happened in our training lessons for the rookies that came along and what to do and what not to do on a stop. The biggest mistake made was not calling in the stop prior to approaching the Oldsmobile.

Even though I titled this chapter ‘Routine Traffic Stop’, I have to stress there is no such thing as routine in police work. A traffic stop is perhaps one of the most dangerous things a police officer must face during his daily tasks.

The driver, James Flanders, was charged with aggravated assault with a weapon to a Police Officer and was found guilty. He was sentenced to serve two years in the Joliet Illinois State Prison.

We all thought that he got off with a light sentence but again, it was up to the courts and you do not let those things get to you. You have to let the courts handle it, as you can’t possibly be Cop, Judge, and Jury!

© James Samdavid1 Fullington
March 12, 2001


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Reviewed by m j hollingshead 8/18/2002
enjoyed the read
Reviewed by Cathy Montgomery 3/31/2002
Grabbed my attention immediately. Good write and good advice.

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