They didn’t want to go! I don’t blame them. After several of my buddies – one of which was nearly killed in several IED attacks, and cousins going to Iraq and one of my friends being killed in Afghanistan while attached to the SeaBees, I have complete understanding.
It was around 11:30 pm. I stepped out into the parking lot and something caught my eye. It was a car, partially obscured behind a bush and a couple of trees, but I could tell its hazard flashers were on. I stood trying to see more and then noticed that the driver’s door was standing open. I decided to take a closer look. I walked about forty feet forward, closing the distance of about three hundred feet. It appeared that there was writing on the side of the car, but I could not tell for sure because it was on the driver’s door, which was now at an oblique angle from my point of view.
Then I noticed the two men along the fence on the opposite side of the street. There seemed to be some kind of disagreement. One seemed to be walking away and another appeared to be trying to get him to come back. I realized that this was going to turn violent and so walked forward until I stood under street lamp where I was visible to them. I didn’t want to get involved. The hope was that my presence, as a witness, would deter violent measures in the settlement of their dispute.
It was then that I noticed the car was a taxi. I couldn’t understand why the men would be fighting if one of them was the driver, but I figured I better find out. I continued to close the distance as I picked up my pace. Suddenly, they began to holler at one another – the voices sounded slurred from intoxication. One man grabbed the other and slammed him up against the fence. Then he began to punch him in the face. I lengthened my stride and as I gained the sidewalk on my side of the street one man was thrown to the ground and it appeared was being punched repeatedly in the face. I had a decision to make as I felt for my concealed weapon. Was I going to get involved with two drunken men brawling on the other side of the street? I have been through extensive training in the use of firearms, mental conditioning, and legal liabilities involving use of force – I knew my feet stood on that threshold. I could not tell, but by the way the individual on top of the other man was striking, he could have been holding a knife. I decided. I was not going to stand by and watch another man get killed.
I started forward, then several things happened simultaneously. I noticed another individual that had been hidden from view next to the taxi cab and as I turned to look at him the man on the ground threw off his assailant and began to cross the road to my side. Now I was involved – fully. The third man turned out to be the cab driver; he was on the phone.
“Is everything all right?” I spoke in his direction from about thirty feet.
He spoke into the phone and then replied to me as he pointed at the two men who had been fighting. “No. No.”
I stepped forward, but he began to back up, warily.
“I am here to help.” I said. I could understand his alarm, but considering the fact I was in a suit and tie at 11:30pm it was assumed that he would not perceive me as a threat or a part of the raucous. He didn’t share my line of thought, but backed up and then ran around the cab while talking rapidly and urgently in the phone.
At this time the men had crossed the street and were headed toward me. As a matter of fact they were about a dozen feet away from me, but the one in the rear was closing on his friend. The first man got close to me and held up his hands. I believe he was the one that had been punched in the face.
“It’s alright, Man.” I said. “I am here to help.” He waved his hands and stumbled on past me. About this time the second man approached.
“Hey, what’s going on?” I called to him in an easy manner, trying to deescalate the situation. “You guys alright?”
“I’m okay.” He replied, his voice heavily slurred. “It’s Yazi over there that needs help. Please, tell me that you are a cop.”
“I am not a cop, but I can help.” It was a rapid assessment, but I determined this man was not a threat. I stepped closer.
“Tell we what’s going on.”
“You need to calm Yazi down.” Right! I think they both needed calming down. I am not sure who was shoving and hitting whom, but it certainly wasn’t a one-man show. “Yazi” started cussing toward him and I from about 20 feet away. He stepped up to me. “Listen, we are being deployed to Afghanistan tomorrow morning.” Then he yelled at ‘Yazi’. “Yazi, come here let’s talk.”
“Yazi, I love you man! Come on let’s go to Afghanistan, we can die together.”
I broke the dialogue. “You leaving for Afghanistan tomorrow?”
“Are you stationed at Fort Carson?” I pointed to the west.
“Are you with the 3rd?”
“No, I am with the 1st.”
“Listen, man, I understand where you are. I have buddies that have been over there. I feel for you. Can we talk about this?”
Another call to ‘Yazi’, but again a few more choice words.
Fortunately, we didn’t have time to talk about it. I saw the reflection of red and blue light from the side of townhouses across the street. A Colorado Springs Police Department Dodge Charger made the turn at high speed and came to a rapid stop. Within seconds four more cars arrived. It didn’t look like I was going to be the one talking to ‘Yazi’ or his buddy. The taxi driver had called in the Calvary.
Two officers came barreling out of their door and virtually ran to each man after a cursory glance at me in my business suit, having finished a speaking engagement that evening – evidently I didn’t look like an irate taxi fare.
Just then another officer came up to me as well as. There was a woman officer behind him who turned out to be the ranking officer on the scene.
I did something out of instinct that I know, from my training, he was not supposed to respond to. It was not an intentional mistake. I stuck out my hand and introduced myself. Then he made a mistake. He took it and shook it. He realized his mistake and upon releasing my hand quickly pulled out a pad and pen.
“What was your name? Oh, you just told me that. How do you spell it?” I told him. “Did you see the fight?”
“Yes sir. I saw them fighting.”
“Did you see anyone fighting with the taxi driver?”
“No sir, I didn’t. He was standing over there.” I pointed. “By the time I got here. At first I didn’t even see him, but then when I did I tried to tell him I was here to help and asked if I could. He just ran around to the other side of his car.”
Yelling erupted over by ‘Yazi’. We looked over. Apparantly, ‘Yazi’ wasn’t one of those ‘happy drunks’. I commented to that effect to the cop. He chuckled. I pointed to the other man that they now had sitting on the curb. “He seems to be a pretty loving guy when drunk.” Both laughed.
“So,” the officer continued taking information. “You did not witness them contacting the driver?”
“No sir, they were over there by that fence yelling, shoving, and what appeared to be trading punches.” I pointed down the street and explained how once the rolling in the grass was over they separated and crossed to this side and came down to where they now were.
He nodded. “So you weren’t in the cab?”
“No sir. I am staying right over there.” I pointed behind me. “And was walking when I saw the flashers from the car stopped in the middle of the street.” I explained to him how I came to be standing where I was.
“So you live over there? Can I get a phone number?”
“No sir. I don’t live here, but am staying for a few more days.” I figured it was about time to let them know I had a gun before the interview got any more personal. I raised my hands about head level. “Before we go any further. I need to let you know that I have a concealed weapons license.”
He quickly looked up. “Do you have a gun now.”
“I do.” He began to look me over and so I slowly pulled the lapel of my suit back to reveal the gun on my waist. He looked a little worried, but then relaxed somewhat.
“Okay. Just don’t touch it.” He asked for my license. I gave it to him. He also asked for my phone number just in case he needed to get in contact with me. Upon receiving this information he told me I that was all they needed and thanked me for my help.
I stepped back and observed the rest of the scene. The happy drunk was amiably conversing with two officers while ‘Yazi’ was shouting, evading questions, and otherwise trying to get arrested.
The happy drunk was asked to empty his pockets. He did.
“Are these your keys?”
Happy looked at them. “I don’t know.”
“Those are my keys!!” The taxi driver shouted and started forward. The two officers talking with him quietly stepped in his way and held him back. “He took my keys!!”
“Did you take these keys from him?” The officer pointed.
Happy simply laughed. “Yeah, I guess I did.”
“I don’t know.”
“Did you fight with him or threaten him?”
He snorted. “No. Look you need to calm Yazi down. I am fine. Calm him down.” Evidently ‘Yazi’ had good hearing. Blankity Blank!
I returned to my lodging to get some rest. My wife was standing with my kids watching the scene from a distance. I explained to her what was going on and said they would probably not get arrested, but the officers would wait for an NCO to come from Fort Carson. We went inside, but then a few minutes later a fire truck and ambulance came barreling up with lights and sirens blazing? I looked back out. Now I was worried. ‘Yazi’ had said he had a knife. I certainly hoped things hadn’t gotten out of hand. These men were scared and I was completely sympathetic.
As I put on my slippers walked back over I noticed a man being loaded on a gurney and put into the ambulance.
I approached the group of officers standing with the a couple military men.
“Are they okay?”
“Good. I saw the extra vehicles and thought things had escalated.”
“The only thing that has escalated is their alcohol level.” He laughed and pointed to the back seat of a cruiser.
There was puke all over the windows and back seat. Apparently, the fire truck was needed for the cleanup. They had both back doors open and were literally hosing out the seats and window. It looked pretty nasty back there and I could see the justification.
I laughed and bid goodnight. It was a little more excitement along the way.
P.S. I must commend the Colorado Springs Police Department. They were very professional and caring for these men and handled it very well. In stating the one officer ‘made a mistake’ by shaking my hand, is purely an opinion based on the type of training they get. I train with our Sheriff’s department back home and the Undersheriff told me that they are instructed to NEVER shake hands when there is an active domestic violence. He stated, he didn’t care, he ignored that. He want to try to be on the best terms and beside if he has their right hand in his then he knows it isn’t on a weapon. If they get riled up he would simply take them down from there. He has the muscle to do it!