On Being Involved: The Day After
‘On Being Involved’ is a collection of essays written by the men and women we’ve come to know in our work. We’ve personally asked each writer to share their perspectives, in their own words, detailing a specific part of their own experiences.
July 5, 2014 9:30PM. My Day before. My “going home run.” Originally dispatched as a single shot fired run in an area known for shots fired runs all year round, let alone July when every firework that goes off is called in a as a shots fired run. This “common” run, ended in a guy with an assault rifle behind his back, that he quickly turned on to my Beat Partner, Perry W. Renn, whom was promptly killed. Renn and I returned fire, taking down our suspect, me assuming we killed him. This took place 10 days after my very healthy father died of a random stroke. He was living with me at the time and I was the one to find him deceased. It was my girlfriend’s (now wife) longest day of her life as she was doing a ride along with me during that particular shift. We were eventually taken home after initial investigations, around 1:00 AM. Once we were released that night and dropped off at my house, we opted instead to stay at her house.
My house had not been a source of comfort for the past month as a month prior to my father dying, several teens, whom I had never had contact with, showed up at my house around 10pm as I was getting off work looking for a fight with me and another officer who lived down the street. Those teens (some juveniles and some adults) were quickly released that night on their disorderly conduct charges, got out, and made some threats on Facebook towards me and my fellow neighborhood officer causing them all to get visited by SWAT in the AM and put back in jail. This caused their families to not be happy with that decision. People would drive by my house screaming obscenities, telling me I was number “1” with the use of middle fingers, and throwing trash in my yard. The joke was on them though. I did not like my mower at that time and would mow over anything in the yard.
Once at my girlfriend’s place, her and I climbed into bed and we just sat up right. No words were said, no tv was watched, neither of us on our phones. Just pure silence, pure confusion, pure shock, pure numbness. The replay of the shift’s horrible event was on a constant loop in my head. The suspect was refusing to show me his other hand, a large gathering of his family behind and to the side of him in the side yard, him swinging a rifle around, Officer Renn falling, me firing and maneuvering forward, and then seeing the suspect on the ground, assumed to be deceased. I knew Officer Renn would not make it as I had to take his gun out of his hand, pull his hand from his radio mic as he gargled blood trying to key in to it to talk, and then replaced his now missing hand with one of my hands while trying to cover any wounds with my free hand as I felt him get weaker in his hand and breaths. My adrenaline dump was fueling my numbness. My hyper-vigilance was fueling my ability to not sleep or close my eyes. Although I cried heavily once I was officially advised Renn did not survive his wounds,
I no longer had the energy or ability to cry anymore. I was mentally in shock, but physically still able to communicate, walk, ect. I was just unable to emotionally feel anything anymore. I had spent the prior week crying for my dad / best friend / person who gave me my life guidance. I was now on my own and had no more tears to physically shed. They were just gone. I was just numb. Overwhelmed. Lost. I wasn’t the most religious person at that time but I could also not shake the feeling of evil I felt on the scene. From the moment I stepped out of my car. It was like a cloud of evil surrounded me. This contributed even more to the numbness I felt and was to continue to feel as days, weeks, months, and years progressed. Although time, self-study, seminars, and amazing support groups have helped me look forward, every day is really “The Day After.” It’s my new normal. I accept it each day. I honor each day.
FTO, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department
In remembrance of Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Officer Perry W Renn. E.O.W July, 5, 2014.