What's the most satisfying arrest you've ever made?
Every cop has that one arrest...
A question posted on Quora asked, “What's the most satisfying arrest you've ever made?” A number of cops gave their opinions on the topic, below. Check them out and add your thoughts in the comments.
By William R. Sidebottom, retired LEO:
There were many, but the most satisfying: stopping a bank robbery!
I was off duty and this ‘new’ thing of ‘direct deposit’ was just catching on! I took the forms from county personnel to my bank. Now I never ‘park’ directly in front of stores (as some cops do) so I was walking from the lot to the bank’s front door, and fumbling with my wallet and the paper for my business dealings, when the door flew open and I glanced up seeing a ski-masked man with a gun in one hand and a bag in the other. He turned, saw me, and started to turn the weapon in my direction. I threw my wallet and papers and made a ‘quick draw’ that any gunslinger would be proud of while screaming, “County police, stop!” He fired and missed. I didn’t!
I shot him through both ass cheeks! I heard tires squealing and the getaway driver was doing what he was there for … minus his passenger. The robber dropped and was ‘break dancing’ on the sidewalk, you know, dropped on his back and doing pinwheel circles. I called radio, “Shots fired! Suspect down! Request supervisor and med squad!” The Supervisor arrived and requested a robbery detective at the scene. I gave my statement to the supervisor sgt., sgt. detective, then the local FBI agents showed and I had to give them a statement. When I was done [and a bystander gave me my wallet and papers… she was real nice] I went to the door and a man was locking the door. I explained that I needed to turn these papers in and the reason. He was the bank manager and the FBI closed the bank for investigation. I left.
Three days after the robbery, I came in with the papers in hand. The line was very long and I was at the back. I was off-duty, out of uniform, when the bank manager looked up and came out. He said this very loud, “Sir, come this way. I will handle your business myself.” A couple of people complained and someone yelled, “Why does he get special treatment?”
The bank manager stopped [I almost walked through him] and he was mad. He said, “For your information, this branch was robbed last week. Been on the news! This man is a police officer, the same one that got your money back and shot the robber. Out of appreciation, I think he deserves VIP treatment, don’t you?”
I got not only applause from everyone, but also a standing ovation from the secretaries and loan officers!
Bottom line: Three weeks later…I got my first check directly deposited to my account … I was very happy!
By Christopher Hawk, retired LEO:
I made a traffic stop and discovered the driver was wanted on a nationwide warrant out of Utah for skipping town while out on bond for a sexual assault. It turns out that he raped his girlfriend's 10-year-old daughter while babysitting. On the way to the jail, he said the warrant was “all a misunderstanding.” Uh-huh. I talked with the detective later and found out this guy had beaten the girl, raped her, and had texted a friend to come over before a neighbor called police because the girl was screaming. I was happy to see he eventually got sentenced to prison for 130 years.
By Kieth Moreland, Police Sergeant:
James Nelson Blair – he was a chemist/drug maker who suspected two women of stealing his money. He moved away from the apartment building and returned the month after bearing a bottle of gin for the two women who were hardcore alcoholic drinkers. He gave the gift-wrapped bottle to the five-year-old son of one of the women. The two women guzzled it down until they both went into seizures and comas. I got the call and recovered the bottle. The hospital analyzed the contents. It was poisoned with cyanide.
Three days later, I was cleaning out my car when a radio call said the guy was back, trying to find out the location where the women were hospitalized. I threw my stuff back in my car and I broke every traffic law, as well as a couple of laws of physics, I could to get there and point my gun at him while my partner handcuffed him.
He defended himself into prison on two counts of attempted murder. One victim (Rhoda) went home with periodic seizures. The other (Dorothy) was placed in a home where she never emerged from her coma until she died. She died under the time required to re-try Blair for murder. Using poison to kill, in California, is an automatic death penalty case.
Blair, once again, defended himself (he had an advisor from the public defender, so no feeling any pity that he had "no attorney"). He defended himself right into the gas chamber. He will never see the inside of the chamber as he's "gone" insane.
By Bill Parker, retired LEO:
It was in the mid 80’s and we had experienced a rash of armed robberies of the local Pizza Hut restaurants. All of them closed at 1:00 a.m. (college town) and the robbers, a pair of them driving a green ‘60’s or early ‘70’s Impala, arrived in the last hour or two each time, made sure there were no customers present, and forced the supervisor to open the cash drawer and the safe at gunpoint. After getting the cash they forced the employees into the walk in cooler and warned them not to come out for one hour. Naturally, the employees complied.
The ops commander set up a surveillance detail for three weeks and opened it to all cops, as our detective division back then was small. As this detail proceeded, we received an anonymous tip that the robbers were from the next county to the north. I signed up several times, the last time on the last scheduled night of the detail. I was assigned a UC car and set up at 9:00 p.m., parking among the employee cars at the far corner of the lot of one of the locations that had not yet been hit. As it neared closing time there hadn't been customers for a while.
A few minutes before 0100, headlights crossed my view as a green ’68 Impala pulled into the lot. Instead of parking the car pulled right up alongside the front door, as my adrenaline dumped into my insides. There were two people inside the car and the passenger was looking around the parking lot. Suddenly he looked right at my car, and immediately the Impala moved out again and left the lot. I could just see that the license plate was issued in the county to the north of us. That was enough for reasonable suspicion for a Terry detention far as I was concerned so I put it out on the radio and was lucky enough that two marked squads were within a few blocks. They pulled the car over and I arrived behind them.
We hadn’t been taught proper high-risk procedures yet and just approached the car like any other stop. The officer who walked up to the passenger door immediately yelled “gun!” and then we unholstered our weapons and got these guys out of the car and face down on the pavement. We called for assistance. About then, a sheriff deputy arrived and strolled right up to the open door and pulled a gun off the floor. Before I could even yell he held the revolver up, pointed at the sky, and opened the cylinder, dropping all six rounds into the grassy ditch where he was standing. I shoved him back and dived into the ditch to retrieve the rounds while my sergeant, who had arrived right then, “suggested” that the deputy step back and help guard the prisoners.
The sergeant asked how I would like to proceed, since this was my collar, and I said I wanted to impound the car, get a warrant, and call in a tech to process the car, so there would be fewer points of attack for the future defense team. During that search, in addition to a second revolver, we found a map of the city with all the Pizza Huts circled, and the ones that had already been robbed had an X through the circle.
While being interviewed, one guy made some admissions. It turned out that he thought there might be someone in one of the cars in the lot, maybe waiting for an employee to get off work, and did not want to chance there being a witness. In other words, I must have moved a bit, enough that it caught the guy’s eye. They were subsequently found guilty and sentenced to 40 years each.
By Charlie Redman:
As a young officer in the early 90s, I was called to a project house on a “check the welfare” call, upon arrival, I was met by the housing authority and a relative of the resident who said she hadn't heard from her sister in over a week. When we entered, we found a lady, in the bathtub, holding a washcloth in one hand and a bar of soap in the other. The house was neat as a pin. Nothing looked out of place. The body was in about eight inches of water and so terribly decomposed that it fell apart as the medics removed it.
I did as I was supposed to do – notified my supervisor and the medical examiner. My supervisor said everything looked good and we agreed there didn't appear to be any signs of foul play. There were three lights on in the house: living room, bedroom, and hallway. Her bathrobe was draped over a clothes hamper in the bathroom. It appears she just died as she was taking a bath. She was properly identified by her sister. The medical examiner gave permission to move the body and it was transported to a local hospital/morgue. I spoke with the medical examiner. He determined that she probably died from a seizure as she had epilepsy. He decided only an external autopsy was needed and deemed her death of natural causes.
Three weeks later, the homicide sergeant called me at home and asked if I could come in early. When I asked why, he told me that the body I found was a possible homicide, that a lady had turned herself in saying she and her boyfriend killed the lady. Her conscience was bothering her and she couldn't take it anymore.
I came in to work and sat in with the detective while he questioned her. It was obvious to me that she knew the layout of the apartment. Her story was that they went to the house with the story of needing to use the deceased lady's phone. This was before everyone had a cell phone. The female was supposed to distract the lady while the male rummaged through the house looking for money and other things to steal. He ended up hitting the lady, knocking her unconscious. They drug her into the bedroom where they choked her, then they staged her to look like she had died in the bathtub. She was able to tell me every detail of that apartment down to how many lights were left on. It was obvious to me – she had been there.
This female gave us a list of items they had stolen from the house. We put her up in a safe house for the time being because she was afraid of the boyfriend. We then concentrated on him. By now, the case had gained speed …we drew a search warrant on the boyfriend's house and served it that night. We found many of the stolen items listed, and they were identified by the woman's sister. The whole time we were searching, this guy was there, sitting on the couch, smiling – I'll never forget that. He had his feet propped up on a coffee table that had a storage compartment. In that compartment is where I found most of the stolen items.
With what we had, we had way more than enough to charge him with murder so I was able to arrest him that night and put him in jail…it was a pleasure. Because the female had implicated herself, we charged her as well.
The next day, the deceased woman was exhumed and a proper autopsy was performed. We could see damage to her head where this guy had hit her knocking her out and the cartilage in her throat had been crushed, clearly indicating that she did not die of natural causes.
Both the girl and her boyfriend pled guilty to 2nd degree murder and served 15 years of their life sentence.