THE CASE OF THE STOLEN HANDCUFFS

BY RON SIPES

One winter nite while I was on training at Firestone Station and my training officer, Don James and I were in 15A. working Athens. We were sitting in the park at about 0500 hrs, so I could write the fifteen reports I was behind. There was a heavy mist in the air, with just a hint of the coming day shining through. We got a GRAND THEFT AUTO NOW call that was only a few blocks from the park. We were blacked out, coming out of the mist, when we saw two suspects in the process of stripping a 1965 Chevy. They had the wheels off, and were attacking the seats. They were pretty intent on what they were doing and didn't hear or see us arrive. I don't understand how we were able to sneak up on anyone because we were in a 1968 Plymouth, which due to the huge hemi engine and the dual four-barrel carbs, would wake up the dead on an ordinary nite. Having arrived Don told me to take the tall skinny one, and he would take the other guy. The one he gave me, remember I was on training, was a 6' 9" Black guy who at the most weighed 190 Lbs. But, he was really tall and I knew Don was testing me. We burst from the car, ran at the suspects, guns drawn, shouting "Firestone Sheriff, up against the car!". Well both of these Buttholes decided to run. Mine went over the fence into the backyards of the adjacent houses; the other ran down the sidewalk. (This was prior to Gary Saunders being killed and we didn't realize the danger in splitting up.) I went over the fence after my giant and yelled at him to halt, stop, or some other worthless thing that didn't work. He just kept on running. He went over the second fence and I was right behind him. At the third fence I caught him by the shirt and must have scared him or something cause he didn't even try to climb the fence, he just ran right through it with me hanging on. About then my keen on training police mind figured that something was really wrong with this guy. I climbed on his back reached really high and grabbed him around the neck. I don't think he really noticed my two hundred twenty pounds on his back cause he carried me, on his back, through two more fences before he tired a little and stopped to catch his breath. I think it was about then he noticed me, and he was obviously a Rodeo fan, cause he tried to shake me off with some really good moves. Some how I was able to trip him and we fell through the sixth fence knocking it flat. Now, on the ground he was my size and I was able to put him down. But, he had to have been on something really strong, because I could not cuff him. I got one cuff on and had the other arm but just couldn't get the second cuff on. So, I call for Don and told him I needed some help cuffing this guy.

While I was being treated like a jockey, Don had captured his suspect and was at the radio car with him. When he heard me call for assistance he grabbed his suspect, put his arms around the light post, cuffed him, and ran to help me. We were able to get my suspect handcuffed and brought him back to the radio car only to find the other suspect had boogied down the road. We finally figured that Don must have thought he cuffed the guy around the post, but missed the post and the guy not being secured to anything, booked.

Don was a very nice, polite, well educated, family man. He, with over twelve years at FPK was a "real" old time Firestone Deputy. We called for one of the area cars to come over and help search for the missing suspect. By the time they arrived Don had worked himself up so much that I was afraid for my own safety much less the suspect if we found him. Don asked the Giant if he knew where the other suspect lived. The Giant denied having ever seen the other suspect before this evening. Don asked the other deputies if they had a toolbox. One of them said yes, and brought the box to Don. He looked through the box and found a pair of clamp pliers. He explained to the Giant that he was really pissed that the other suspect took off with his handcuffs, and that he had paid twenty bucks for them and he wanted them back in the worst way. While Don was having this discussion he was opening and closing the pliers, an action that did not miss the attention of the Giant. The Giant said, "What are you going to do with those? Don just smiled and asked, "Your a young man, have you had any children yet? The Giant said, "What the #### do you mean? Don just smiled and asked the rest of us to pull the Giants pants down for him. About then it hit the Giant that the question about having children, the clamp pliers and his pants coming down might all be related somehow. He started to cry and gave us the other suspects name, address, phone number and offered to direct us to the house. I thought that was very nice of the Giant, so did Don, so we took him up on it.

We drove to the other suspects house knocked on the door and it was opened by the suspects wife. We asked if the suspect was home and she said he hadn't been home all evening. We asked for her permission to search the house, and when she sort of nodded her head yes we entered the place. It was a 1920's shotgun house that had two bedrooms in the rear. We found the suspect in a bedroom closet under a bunch of clothing. We brought him out into the light and found that he had mutilated his wrists and destroyed the cuffs trying to get them off. He had squeezed the cuffs so hard his hands were black from lack of circulation. I saw large gouges in his wrists where he attempted to pry off the handcuffs with a screwdriver or some other implement. The Giant had a few abrasions and other injuries from wrecking an entire block of backyards. We took them to the hospital for treatment, back to Firestone Station and booked them. 

The county settled with all of the homeowners who had their fences and backyards destroyed. Both suspects were tried, convicted and served a year in the County Jail.

Don James served until Carson Station opened and finished his career there. He died about a year after his retirement at the age of 55.

 "IF A FIRESTONE DEPUTY PAID FOR IT, DON'T TAKE IT."