(This is the continuation of a serial novel. For previous chapters click here.)
Philip Donovan was monitoring the radio transmissions of Kyle Lipskey and his agents from his office in Langley. He already knew from the sensor readings aboard the second airborne helicopter that there were no biological agents released in the explosion. The helicopter had been equipped with the XM-94 Light Detection and Ranging system which is a helicopter-borne detector for aerosol, chemical and biological agents. Donovan secretly wished Viper had shot his wad on that mountain. The casualties would have been far less on the mountain than they were going to be in downtown Washington, D.C. Ali Kavas, Savak spelled backward was Viper’s way of taunting us, thought Donovan.
“Well Mickey, what do you make of our elusive terrorist?” Donovan asked of Mickey Fitch.
“Viper is very skilled at what he does, however he’s been forced into making several small mistakes in an effort to eliminate the big ones,” Fitch began slowly. “Playing the tape bought Viper the time he needed to escape out the tunnel, however in doing so he gave us Reza on tape. Viper used an alias when he rented the car but, even though it’s a phony Virginia license, we now have Viper’s picture. We know that he has to look something like he does now, otherwise he wouldn’t have been able to rent the car.”
“You’re assuming that it was actually Viper who rented the car and not someone sent in his place,” Donovan countered. “I think it was him because of the alias. Not only the Savak part but the Ali bit as well. Same first name he used with that hooker. One thing we do know for sure. We can rule out the possibility that Viper will be dumb enough to return to the rental agency to collect his security deposit,” Donovan laughed.
Mickey Fitch burst into his own peculiar laugh to show his appreciation for the dry humor of his boss.
“Let’s assume Viper actually was the person who rented the car and let’s assume that Viper felt that he personally needed to eliminate his network to prevent us from getting one of them to talk. Then why would he play us a tape of Reza?” Donovan asked. “He knew we were closing in on him and yet he incriminated his own leader for Christ sakes.”
“Yes and no sir. We are assuming that Viper’s leader is Reza and that seems to me to be exactly what he wants us to believe. What if it’s not Reza or for that matter anyone connected to the leadership in Iran? What if Iraq is really pulling the strings? Sure Reza is Iranian, but that doesn’t mean he can’t work for someone else. Maybe the person Viper works for wants us to point the finger toward Iran instead of at them!” Fitch said with mounting enthusiasm.
“That’s an interesting speculation, but I wouldn’t dream of mentioning that to the White House without hard proof,” Donovan said. “We cannot act on mere supposition.”
“Think back not so long ago. Iran and Iraq were killing each other by the thousands. The two countries waged a long and bloody war with each other. It’s not so far out of line to suggest that some bad blood may still exist. Why not frame Iran while at the same time you can settle the score with the evil Satan who brought you Desert Storm?” Fitch said while cocking his head to one side and peering through his tinted glasses at Donovan.
“Do we have any hard intelligence which would link Reza to Iraq?” Donovan asked.
“No sir, not hard intelligence. We’ll know more once the detonator is recovered. We do know that Reza has been a guest of Saddam on more than one occasion and that this whole biological thing smells of Iraq. We have to assume that the men in the cabin were destined for Paradise from the beginning, so Reza’s whole motivational speech had to be for our benefit. Viper wants us to know the why and where without telling us from whom and when,” Fitch said.
“You know as well as I do Mickey, that Bill Gallager wants hard intelligence, not intrigue and hunches,” Donovan said.
“Well sir, as it stands now, both Iran and Iraq can claim Reza is just another religious zealot who got out of line. Just like the World Trade Center episode. They have their plausible denial and for all we know they’re both laughing at us,” Fitch said.
“I know the feeling,” Donovan said, slipping into a little self pity.
Fitch had known Donovan from the beginning of his career. Donovan had talked Fitch into joining the agency 10 years earlier on a flight back from New Haven. Fitch had the kind of physical appearance which would make most strangers afraid to talk to him. Donovan never seemed to see Fitch as the ugly man he physically was.
Both men were cold and brilliant and they made their spontaneous connection that day on the plane. Fitch the pale, mathematical genius who had graduated from MIT at 17, going on to Harvard for his graduate work. Donovan the Yalie, handsome, socially adept and poised with a more balanced brilliance. Fitch had seemed destined to spend the rest of his life as an eternally tenured academician until Donovan, the great persuader, made him an irresistible offer.
Membership in the most exclusive university in the world — the Central Intelligence Agency — the octopus of knowledge. So it was that the Geek and the Prep had formed their alliance. The duo had become a standard joke among the spooks at the Agency. Whenever the two men were seen walking together in the hallway they were quietly referred to as the “Odd Couple.” Whether brainstorming or merely conversing, the two men always seemed to know where the other was going with his thoughts.
“I’m sorry about what happened to you in the newspaper yesterday sir. I think it was a pretty low thing for that detective to do to you. Especially since you went out of your way to cooperate with him,” Fitch said.
“What makes you so certain that it was Rogers, Mickey?” Donovan asked skeptically.
“It’s logical. He couldn’t get anywhere when he was giving me the third degree so he got back at us all by humiliating you. His motives are transparent and his timing was obvious,” Fitch said with absolute certainty in his voice. “Rogers is mad because he has been left out of the loop and he is striking back in the only pathetic way he knows how.”
“I never even thought of him actually,” Donovan admitted. “All this while I’ve been thinking it was one of the senator’s enemies. I know the members of the Security Council are snickering about the whole thing behind my back. You can see it in their faces. The only thing that keeps them from throwing me to the wolves is the senator, and now it looks like the senator won’t be able to protect me much longer. He’s being portrayed as some kind of whore monger. Hell, I’d love to know for sure that it was Rogers who’s leaking out this smut.”
“All you’d have to do is simply ask him. He’s dying to tell you, I’m sure of it. He wants you to notice him. Detective Rogers is a middle-aged, minor league player who refuses to come to terms with the fact that he will never be ready for prime time. Trust me on this — you’re too close to it. Just ask him,” Fitch said tauntingly.
“Oh, you can count on it Mickey,” Philip Donovan promised.
News about the bomb explosion was a national story which took on a life of its own. Speculation about the nature of the explosion began immediately, in spite a concerted effort by the spin doctors at the FBI Public Information Office to portray it as a propane explosion. Whenever a mountain top gets littered with the bodies of a dozen and a half Iranian nationals it doesn’t take William Randolf Hearst to smell a big story. Like most law enforcement Public Information Offices, the Public Information Officers — known as PIOs — felt it was their sworn duty to provide the public with as little information as possible. Unless of course the operation was a heralding success, in which case the media and the story would be exploited for it’s full public relations potential. Example: Child pornography bust on the Internet. The media was welcomed with open arms and engraved invitations. Ruby Ridge: NOT!
Lipskey’s mountain operation was a definite NOT. First of all, nobody at the Bureau could tell the truth about why the government agents were on that mountain without having the Nation’s Capital shut down. “Washington D.C. Under Possible Biological Attack” is not the kind of headline that inspires public confidence and order. The best the spin doctors could hope for was to buy some time. The delaying tactic always begins with a press release followed by a series of “no comments” along with an occasional “I’ll have to get back to you on that.”
Today, at 12:30 p.m. eastern standard time, agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as part of an ongoing investigation by the Justice Department, were conducting a surveillance of members of a suspected terrorist group that was meeting at a mountain cabin in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. During the course of that investigation, an explosion occurred within that cabin while it was still under surveillance. At the present time the origin of that explosion is not known, however it is believed to be faulty propane gas tank. A full investigation into the nature of this explosion is under way and the results of that investigation will be made available as soon as it has been completed.
Special Agent Lou Ciano is in stable condition recovering from injuries he sustained in the line of duty during that explosion. Agent Ciano is married with two children, a daughter, 12, and a son, 7. Our hearts and our prayers go out for them this evening as they do for the speedy recovery of Special Agent Ciano.
Public Information Office
What was not released at the press conference was that trace elements of RDX, a main element of the plastic explosive Semtex, had been detected at the blast site. This state-of-the-art explosive cannot be smelled by dogs and it is virtually invisible to standard airline x-ray machines. That is why Semtex was so effective on December 21, 1988, aboard the Pan American World Airways 747 jetliner that exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland.
Vamos a Vallos
Irwin Rogers sat at his desk at homicide and began thumbing through the case file of the Defarshi homicide that Darren Harrison had been keeping updated. He noticed that Harrison had been scheduled to interview Jennifer Vallos on the day of his departmental shooting. Rogers called Vallos at her at her apartment in Seabrook, Md. She agreed to meet with him at 1 o’clock that afternoon.
Rogers then picked up the phone and dialed Darren Harrison at home.
“How’s it going Darren?” Rogers began lamely.
“Boring as shit,” Harrison said. “I want to get back to work. Retirement is for people your age. Man, you’ll never guess who dropped by last night. Alphonso Foggs! We got drunk on a bottle of his Hennesey. He told me that he knew the State’s Attorney in Prince George’s County and that he was trying to speed up their investigation. When that’s over, I can come off suspension and get back to work. Foggs said that he didn’t see a problem.”
“That’s good news,” Rogers agreed, feeling guilty that Foggs had visited his partner before he had. “You better get your ass back to work. I’m drowning in paperwork while you’re on a paid vacation. This shit has got to come to an end. Listen Darren, about this Jennifer Vallos woman you were going to interview. How were you going to play it?” Rogers asked.
The tone of Harrison’s voice livened. “Well,” he began, “She must have felt strongly about this dude, otherwise why’d she try to O.D.? We know that Alexi had more than one thing going on, so I figured I’d play that angle if she dummies up on me. You know — I hate to be the one to break this to you baby, but you wasn’t the only game in town. That kind of thing. You see what I’m saying?” Harrison asked.
“Sounds like a plan,” Rogers agreed. “That just might help her get over any undeserved loyalty she still might be feeling for the dearly departed. You going be around tonight — say 6 or so?” Rogers asked. “I thought I’d drop by and fill you in on the latest.”
“I’ll be here,” Harrison said.
“I’d come by earlier Darren, but I didn’t want to interrupt you and Oprah,” Rogers laughed.
“I got your Oprah,” Harrison said with a smile.
Rogers then made one more call. He dialed Marcus Williams at the FBI and checked on the condition of Lou Ciano. It wasn’t good. Ciano had to have three holes drilled in his head to relieve the pressure of the fracture. So far, Lou had been unable to recognize his own wife.
Rogers hung up the phone and walked down the hall to the office of Alphonso Foggs. He knocked twice before Foggs finally said he could enter.
“Good morning sir,” Rogers said.
“What’s so good about it?” Foggs asked. Rogers notice a pink bottle of Pepto Bismol on his desk.
“Well sir, for one thing it’s another day that we get the privilege to serve and protect a grateful public,” Rogers said.
“Maybe it’s time we had your urine tested Rogers,” Foggs said. “What do you want?”
“Well sir, I thought I’d go interview Jennifer Vallos this afternoon. She’s the waitress who worked with Defarshi and she also may have been one of his girlfriends. Maybe she knows something that could help us out.”
“Keep me posted,” Foggs said. “By the way, I got a call from the chief’s office this morning. He wanted to know if I had any idea who leaked the story about Senator Cole’s daughter to the Post. I was instructed to remind my personnel that it may also be against the law to provide details of an ongoing investigation. I don’t suppose that you’ve come up with any ideas on who the leak is have you Rogers?”
It was at that exact moment that Rogers’ pager went off. He pressed the recall button and saw that it was Debbie Peerless calling.
“Who is it Rogers?” Foggs asked, matter of factly.
Just as Rogers was about to lie and say something off the top of his head like “a snitch” or “a girlfriend,” he reevaluated how odd the question was. Nice try Alphonso.
“I really don’t know sir. I don’t recognize the phone number,” Rogers said. “Well then sir, unless you have anything further, I’ll keep you posted and give you a full report when the interview is over.”
Rogers left the building and headed for Seabrook. Along the way he stopped at a pay phone and called Debbie Peerless.
“Did you just page me?” Rogers asked with a sound of urgency.
“No, I didn’t,” Peerless replied. “Why?”
“I think my boss, Alphonso Foggs, was trying to get cute. He desperately wants to find out who the leak in homicide is and I guess he thinks I’m it. Now I’ll have to go back and tell him that it was you who paged me. Of course I’ll say that I hung on you as soon as I knew who it was. When my pager went off I was standing right in front of him in his office. I had a hunch it was a setup when he asked me who it was. Now if I don’t go back and tell him it was you calling — he will know that I’m the leak,” Rogers said.
“What a clever little man he must be,” Peerless said sarcastically. “Why don’t you tell him we did talk and that I told you I didn’t page you nor do I need to question you about anything. That would really make his day. Anyway, it’s just as well that you called when you did. I wanted to congratulate you.”
“Congratulate me for what?” Rogers asked.
“You were right all along about the FBI terrorist story. Where can we meet?” Peerless asked. “I have something that may be of interest to you.”
“Well, I’m going out to Prince George’s County to interview a coworker of Defarshi’s. Do you know the Holiday Inn just off the Beltway near the Redskin’s Football Stadium?” Rogers asked.
“The one at the Beltway and 202?” she asked.
“That’s the one,” Rogers said. “I can meet you there this afternoon … say three or four?”
“Four would be better for me,” said Peerless.
“Four it is then,” Rogers agreed.
Rogers had 20 minutes to make his meeting with Jennifer Vallos. He merged into the fast lane of the Baltimore Washington Parkway and mashed on the pedal. Speeding was another one of those perks enjoyed by the police profession. Officially denied of course, but eternally practiced. He exited the parkway at Greenbelt Road, passed NASA Space Center and arrived at the apartment of Jennifer Vallos with three minutes to spare.
A few of the apartment doors had Christmas wreaths with green and red wrapping paper covering their steel doors. Jennifer Vallos’ apartment door had no decorations. Only dents, scratches and faded beige paint.
When Jennifer Vallos answered, she didn’t smile. Her pale, ashen face featured dark circles beneath her eyes. She merely said “Come in.”
Rogers followed her into the apartment. She wore a half tied blue terry cloth bathrobe which wrapped around her slightly plump and buxom figure. Jennifer’s brown hair was teased up in a temporary and disheveled bun, held together by an enormous clip. The only clue that she was in still in her 20s was the tone that remained in her youthful skin.
Her apartment was filled with the hand-me-down furnishings of poor relatives. Rogers sat down on the stained sofa and smelled the kitty litter fermenting in the kitchen. A brown, black and white calico cat emerged from the bedroom and began patrolling the living room, evaluating the situation. Rogers felt his ass sink deeply into the overly soft sofa. He hated low and soft sofas because he knew that eventually he’d have to rock his way out of them. Another one of life’s penalties for being 30 pounds overweight.
“Miss Vallos, as I said to you over the phone, I am investigating the murder of Alexi Defarshi and since you knew him I wanted to see if perhaps you knew anything that might help us in our investigation.”
“It was Mohammad. I’m sure of it. Alexi was scared shitless of him ever since he got into town a couple weeks ago,” Vallos said with vague certainty. She still seemed sedated.
Alexi scared shitless rang a bell in Roger’s mind. Sabrina Delfuco has used the same expression when she described a customer named Mohammad.
“This Mohammad, do we have a last name? How did Alexi know him?” Rogers asked.
“They grew up together as kids,” Vallos said. “Went to the same school. The whole bit. The guy used to be a member of their Secret Police in Iran. Whatever Mohammad wanted Alexi to do for him, Alexi would do. Not me though.”
Grew up together — worked for the police. This is the same Mohammad Sabrina was talking about. The freak that whipped the shit out of one of her girls.
“What do you mean not me though?” Rogers asked.
“Alexi wanted me to suck Mohammad’s dick and I said no. We had a big fight about it. Alexi begged me to do it. Mohammad had come by the Labyrinth that night at closing and asked Alexi if he would mind sharing me. Like I was one of their fucking rugs. Alexi told me that you can’t say no to this guy. He was terrified. I told Alexi that I wasn’t afraid to say no to the pig. When I did, Alexi turned to me and said ‘I’m a dead man Jennifer.’ That same night Alexi was killed,” Vallos said while staring blankly at the floor.
“Alexi was killed for another reason Miss Vallos, believe me,” Rogers said emphatically, trying to pretend as though he understood some secret that he couldn’t share with her.
Jennifer Vallos looked up at Rogers for the first time. She turned suddenly in her chair and stared into his eyes as though trying to discover some truth in what he just said. Her face had a puzzled stare with an open mouth and unfocused eyes. Her head swayed slightly as though she were drunk and her twisted position in the chair had opened up her robe exposing all but the nipples of her breasts.
Something about her reminded Rogers of Elizabeth Taylor portrayal of Virginia Wolf.
“Where can I find this Mohammad?” Rogers asked, not really expecting an answer.
“At his townhouse near Alexi’s — it’s on Constitution near Third.”
Rogers’ heart began to race. He tried to appear unimpressed, though he barely could contain his excitement.
“Do you know what the exact address is or what it looks like?” Rogers asked, pretending to look down at his notepad and poised with a pen.
“Alexi only showed it to me once. We were in his car — let me think. From Third street it’s the … one … two … three … forth house from Third Street as you head toward the Capital. It’s got a funny, pointed roof.”
“Jennifer, you’ve been very helpful here, believe me. I need you to write a short statement if you feel up to it confirming what you have just told me, OK?” Rogers asked while pulling out the statement forms from his clipboard.
Rogers politely gestured to Vallos with his hands that she should tighten her robe, then he rocked his way out of the sofa and stood up to hand her the forms. When she was through writing her statement, Rogers was feeling grateful and inexplicably paternal.
“Jennifer, you had nothing to do with Alexi’s death. Don’t blame yourself. I have a daughter that’s a little younger than you and if she were here I’d tell her the same thing. You deserve a lot better in life than Alexi Defarshi and you should never be made to feel as though you’re somebody’s rug. Things may seem bleak now, but life has a way of turning things around if you hang in there long enough to let it,” Rogers said before leaving.
There was a slight smile in the eyes of Jennifer Vallos as she said good by to Irwin Rogers.
The Making of a Poster Child
“Debbie?” Rogers asked quickly over the pay phone. “I’m not going to be able to make it over there. Something big has come up.”
“From your interview?” Peerless asked.
“Yes. We may have an address for the shooter. I can’t tell you now but if I get a go-ahead from my boss, you’ll be the first to know,” Rogers said quickly. “Gotta go.”
Then he called Alphonso Foggs and briefed him quickly before heading into the city.
Mohammad and Alexi had an argument the night Alexi was murdered. While that wasn’t enough for Rogers to get a warrant for Mohammad, it certainly placed him well within the suspect category. The next step would be to interview him. Look him in the eye and see if he sweats, or better still, see if he lies.
After Rogers’ call to Foggs, a federal warrant was issued for Mohammad alias Ali Kavas at 5:30 p.m. for the Shenandoah bombing. The property tax records of the Constitution Avenue address had confirmed the building belonged to Ahmed Ruffinjaini, a prominant Iranian night club owner in the city. The townhouse was one of his many real estate investments he rented. The Virginia driver’s license described Ali Kavas as 5-feet, 9-inches, 150 pounds. The photo showed him to have black wavy hair, thick eyebrows and a full beard. So was it written on the warrant. An FBI surveillance team was already staking out the townhouse, while the Emergency Services Team was being called out to make the final assault into the building. They would wait for nightfall and the end of the rush hour. The surveillance team had already observed the figure of a man with a beard moving about in the townhouse.
At 6:10 p.m. Alphonso Foggs summoned Rogers into his office.
“ I want you to work with the FBI on this one Irwin,” Foggs said.
Rogers knew he was screwed as soon as he heard Foggs call him Irwin.
“It’s appears that there is more to this than you or I might be aware of,” Foggs began slowly and deliberately. “I’ve been informed that your suspect Mohammad is connected to a much larger federal investigation that is already under way.”
“You know sir, my partner and I have been on this case for what now … I don’t even know … well over two weeks anyway. Not once has the FBI so much as lifted a finger to help us and now, all of a sudden, they decide to come in here and help us make the arrest. Hell I was pleading with them a week ago to clue me in on what they were up to. Did anyone get back to me? Hell no! Now that we’ve gone and done the leg work, they want to stomp in here and take over.”
“Are you through Rogers?” Foggs asked calmly. “Because I believe in letting people who are upset have the time they need to vent their frustrations. Are you through venting yours Detective?” Foggs asked in an ominously quiet voice.
Rogers bit his lip and shook his head yes.
“Well that’s good. I’m glad you’re feeling better. Now you will meet with an Agent Kyle Lipskey at the Command Post and you will brief him on everything about this case he needs to know. Then, once he is up to speed, you will cooperate fully and professionally with him and his team’s operation. Is that understood?
“That’s better Rogers. So much more professional. Now then, I’ll meet you down there at seven or so. I don’t think they plan on making an entry until eight or nine anyway,” Foggs said.
Rogers left the building and headed straight for a pay phone. He gave Debbie Peerless the address of the raid on Constitution Avenue and then headed directly for the Command Post.
Kyle Lipskey rose to his feet and shook hands with Rogers as he entered through the door of the Command Post Winnebago.
“Great work detective. You have no idea how important it is that we locate this guy,” said Lipskey, smiling while extending a handshake.
“It appears I don’t have a clue about too much of anything these days, Agent Lipskey,” Rogers said with more than a hint of bitterness.
“Call me Kyle please. Listen Irwin, I can understand your resentment toward us coming in like this and taking over. Perhaps when you hear the whole story you’ll understand. Are you familiar with Weapons of Mass Destruction?”
“Like a nuclear bomb?” Rogers asked.
“No, what I’m talking about is low tech stuff. The kind of weapons that less developed nations have that can kill thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of people and yet can be made in the kitchen sink,” Lipskey said, pausing briefly before continuing.
“What I’m about to tell you cannot leave this room — understood?” Lipskey said without a smile.
Rogers agreed. He listened intently as his worst suspicions were confirmed. When he learned that the biological agent Anthrax was involved, Rogers felt relieved that he had not been allowed to proceed unassisted. While the two men talked, a nurse rolled up Rogers arm, held a vaccination gun and shot him full of serum. The members of the Emergency Services Team were assembling in a line waiting to be vaccinated next. Then it was Rogers’ turn to bring Kyle Lipskey up to speed on the Defarshi investigation. They talked until a few minutes past eight when the last man to arrive entered the Command Post. It was Alphonso Foggs whom nobody bothered to vaccinate. Rogers approached his boss carefully and told him that he needed to get vaccinated.
“I’ve already had the entire series, Rogers, but thank you for your concern,” Foggs said.
“Really sir. If I may ask — when did you know about all this?” Rogers asked.
“You may ask anything, detective. For now let’s just say I knew before you did and leave it at that.”
Rogers had been used to being pissed on by the brass, but what he hated most, was when they tried to tell him that it was raining.
“As you wish, sir. By the way, I almost forgot to tell you. I got a call from Debbie Peerless today,” Rogers confessed with a smile.
“You what?” Foggs asked loudly.
“This morning in your office — that was Peerless who was paging me,” Rogers said
“What did she want, Rogers?” Foggs asked angrily.
“Well sir, for now let’s just say we talked briefly and leave it at that,” Rogers said before turning and walking away, leaving Foggs standing alone with both fists clenched.
“People — if I may have your attention please,” Lipskey said loudly while standing at the doorway of the Command Post van, gesturing for all to come forward.
“We just got a green light to go in, however before we do, I have an announcement to make. At 7:15 p.m. this evening, Special Agent Lou Ciano died of injuries sustained in the line of duty. As some of you know, Lou died trying to arrest this same suspect we are trying to apprehend here this evening. I don’t want to lose any more law enforcement officers to this guy so please — be careful. This suspect is extremely dangerous and he doesn’t care who he takes with him. Good luck.”
Lou Ciano was dead. Rogers’ first thought was of the photo of Lou’s wife and children that he had always kept on his desk. He had come to know them through Lou’s daily, anecdotal updates of the adventures of the Ciano family. During the times when the two had worked together on the joint task force, Lou’s animated tales had become part of the office routine, complete with Italian hand gestures. Now, the haunting image of that family portrait seemed to be staring back at Rogers through the night. He remembered their last meeting when Lou had ordered his coffee “black” because his cholesterol was up a bit. Lou had been a family man who had lived his life for his family and the FBI in that order. Rogers could hear Lou mispronouncing his name, calling him Ir-vine with a think New York accent. He remembered how Lou would joke about the way his proud, immigrant grandfather would boast in the old neighborhood how his grandson “wazza de FBI.” How Lou would call suspects — perpetrators or perps for short. A flood a memories filled the mortality of the moment. Nostalgia fills the void of death with the valium of memories so that we may ultimately accept the fact that a comrade and friend is gone forever.
It’s a widely held, almost universal belief, that police officers should never take the law into their own hands. In a perfect world, police officers would never allow the murder of a fellow officer to affect the performance of their of their official duties. They would always wait for justice to be rendered by the courts.
In the imperfect world however, justice doesn’t always come from the courts and police officers don’t always take the murder of one of their own quite so impersonally. There are two ways you can be practically guaranteed to receive street justice. One way is to do bodily harm to a cop and the other way is to kill one.
The professional criminals have always known this. That’s why the smart cop killers turn themselves in while in the company of their lawyers. While it’s true that any civilized person would agree that excessive force is wrong, it is also true most civilized citizens don’t have to hold the bullet ridden bodies of their coworkers while they die for merely doing their job. The law helps us to believe we are civilized but, after all the words are said, it will be the cops who will be expected to keep the lid on the garbage can.
After Lipskey’s speech, Irwin Rogers had pretty much resigned himself to the fact that he wouldn’t be interrogating Mohammad tonight.
Rogers sat beside Lipskey inside the Command Post listening to the monitor as they heard the sounds of the EST team’s battering ram taking down the door. “Go-Go-Go … Clear … Clear. Get your hands up! I said get your fucking hands up you piece of shit. Stop resisting.” What happened next would be described in police parlance as “a brief struggle ensued until the suspect was effectively place under arrest.”
At least there were no shots fired, Rogers thought as he listened to the dull, thumping sound of hickory against skull.
“We’re coming out — and we have the 10-15 in custody,” one of the EST members advised.
“Ten-four,” said Lipskey who then ripped off his head set and ran out of the van to greet the team.
The photographer who had accompanied Debbie Peerless waited for the exact moment when the prisoner emerged from the townhouse in police custody. Then he began shooting a rapid series of photographs with his telephoto lens. One of the photos would ultimately be selected for the next day’s front page lead and it would be the kind of photograph which spoke in volumes. It showed the suspect’s long black hair matted down with the blood that had spilled from his forehead, through his beard, to join the swelling red stain that filled the chest of his white shirt. It showed a helpless, handcuffed prisoner being dragged through the street by his outstretched and manacled arms, suspended only by two enormous, skin-headed EST members dressed in dark fatigues and jump boots. It showed a barely conscious man with a broken nose and two swollen eyes that stared back at the camera in agony. The only thing missing from that photograph that could have inspired more public empathy would have been a crown of thorns.
“Can you tell us why this prisoner has been beaten so severely Inspector Foggs?” yelled Debbie Peerless standing on her toes behind the police barrier.
“He violently resisted a lawful arrest,” Foggs responded while glaring back at Rogers.
After the morning’s edition, the prisoner would become the City’s police brutality poster child. This became especially true when it was finally discovered that the prisoner was not in fact the shooter and that his name was not Mohammad.
To be continued …
(Courtesy Feature photo of author George Munkelwitz providing airline security.)
George Munkelwitz has been a law enforcement officer for 32 years. He spent 22 years patrolling the streets as a Prince George’s County Police officer. He served in Vietnam as a military intelligence specialist where he worked with the controversial Phoenix Program. Prior to the anthrax attack, he was writing the book “The Mother of Satan.” After the anthrax attack, an article appeared in the Washington Times magazine Insight, quoting his expertise in military intelligence, and mentioning his book. ABC news interviewed him but he felt the network treated him like a suspect and not an expert in the field. He never published the book after that interview. Nearly two decades later, his serial novel is finally published by Baltimore Post-Examiner.