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I move pianos, and everyone who works for me is Black.  I spend a lot of time in what is historically a Black community, although the de facto segregation of the past has faded.  The Community is a tough place, people have police records, some have done time, but I have never had a problem with anyone other than the deputies, who wanted to know why a tough-looking white guy was hanging out there with tough looking Black men.

I'm 68 years old, white and middle class, and I have never been arrested, have no police record and no warrants.  I routinely refuse to identify myself when an officer is not entitled to that information, which has already been the source of a rec list diary.  In the Black community that invites trouble from police.  I stand my ground.

Last year a deputy shot one of my friends from The Community.

The incident was sparked by the deputy's attempt to detain my friend on a charge of driving on a suspended license.  My friend attempted to flee, and was shot by the deputy.  He survived, but he will never recover completely.

Those are the bare bones.  No one is disputing who shot whom, but the deputy claimed that he was justified because he was in fear for his life since the driver could have used the vehicle for a weapon.  

The location of the bullet holes certainly calls that defense into question, as you will see.

Today I was working with my regular helpers, delivering a piano to a bar, when one of them said, "Hey, that's Wrecka's car!"  The vehicle in question was in a carport at the back of the police station, being examined by several men.

I told the guys I wanted to get a picture of the bullet holes, so I took out my little camera and walked up to within twenty feet or so of the car.  I didn't figure I had long to shoot, and I was right.  After the third snap a very large man put his beer belly within a few inches of my belt buckle.  He loomed over me and I'm sure he expected me to back up a step, but I didn't and we had a conversation at about six inch range.  He asked, "Who the fuck are you?"

I answered with my real name, "I'm [RepackRider].  And you are?"

He didn't shake my hand.  "I'm detective X of the Novato Police Department.  Why are you taking pictures of that car?"

"Because my friend was in it when it got the bullet holes."

"You're trespassing.  Get out of here."

"Okay."  And I left, to finish delivering the piano.

Walking back to the truck ten minutes later after delivering the piano, a police vehicle idled outside the delivery location.  The cop looked at me.  "Hey Boss."  Normally a police officer would address me as "Sir," but I was the white guy directing two Black guys, so I guess that made me "Boss."

He got out.  "Why were you taking pictures of the car?"  Another officer strolled up, wearing motorcycle cop garb.  Backup.

"My friend was shot while he was in it."

"That's the police station.  It's private property.  You were trespassing."

"And I left as soon as I was informed of that."

"They didn't tell me that."

"Well, I'm telling you that, so now you know."

"Didn't you realize that's the police station?"

"I didn't care.  Why should I?"

We went through the normal charade of me producing ID, which allowed him to find out that I am a model citizen as far as police go.  No arrests, no record, no warrants.

I dared him.  "Am I being cited for anything?"

"No.  You are being admonished."  Honestly, that's what he said.  I don't know whether that is more or less serious than being reprimanded.

So I said, "Then I guess I'm free to go, right?"  He allowed that I was.

I had one more question for the officer.  "Do you understand why I might be interested in seeing the car my friend was in when the deputy shot him?"

"That is not relevant to this."

"I didn't say anything about relevant.  I asked whether you understood why I would want to do that."  By then I was talking to his back, so I thanked the second officer standing by as "backup" for his time.

My associates filled me in on why the vehicle was in a different jurisdiction from the agency whose case it was.  I was told that because it was an officer involved shooting, it was being investigated by a different agency, which through a remarkable coincidence, employs the wife of the deputy who did the shooting.

My photograph shows six bullet holes in the driver's side of the car.  The window is missing and the left front tire is flat, so there might have been more rounds fired, as I had heard that the deputy emptied his clip.  I can see why this might require a tortured explanation as to how the driver was trying to mow down the deputy by driving sideways.

Here's the photo, just because I went to some trouble to get it.  My employees could not believe how much chutzpah they saw today, and my rating in the Community, already high, went up some more.

Originally posted to RepackRider on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 10:10 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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