Cop Tales are true stories as told by law enforcement officers from all over the country. The stories are told in the first person. The actual officer’s initials follow each story.

Don’t even think about it

One night while working the graveyard shift for the Highway Patrol, my partner and I saw another patrol car make a double stop. They told the back vehicle to pull in behind them when they stopped the front vehicle. The vehicles turned down a back street and we pulled behind the rear vehicle without them knowing. As all the cars came to a stop, the front officer indicated to the back driver to wait and the officer approached the front car. At that point, the rear driver slowly got out of his car and crouched down behind the door with a shiny semi-automatic handgun. I immediately drew my weapon and yelled for him to drop the gun. In one quick motion, he threw the gun under his car and put his hands up in the air. We never knew if he was going to shoot the officer or was planning on disposing of the gun under his car, but we were just glad to know that everyone went home that night.

- BS

I’m not getting out

While working the graveyard shift for the Highway Patrol, my partner and I received a call from the sergeants that they stopped a vehicle for a possible DUI driver. As I approached the driver’s side of the vehicle, I could see the two occupants had been drinking. I directed the driver out of the car and conducted field sobriety tests. The passenger was acting squirrelly, so we told him we were going to place him in the backseat of our vehicle for our safety while we handled the traffic stop. We ended up arresting the driver and calling a tow truck for the vehicle. When the tow truck arrived, I advised the DUI driver’s passenger that he could get out of our car and get a ride home from the tow driver.

The passenger advised that he was not getting out of the car. We told him he was not under arrest and he could leave. He told us that we had to arrest him and he would not get out. I know we could have arrested him for being drunk in public, even though he was not that inebriated, or arrested him for interfering with our duties, but we knew the jail would not take him. I told him that if he didn’t get out of the car, I would remove him. He told me he was going to tell my sergeant if I didn’t take him to jail. I reached in, grabbed him by his shoulders and yanked him out of the backseat of our car. He complained and begrudgingly walked over and got into the passenger seat of the tow truck. I can honestly say, I never had someone beg me to take them to jail.

- GF

The longest time of my life

While on patrol as a deputy on the beat I watched over for 19 years, I saw a light in the yard of a grand theft auto and parole violations subject we had been trying to arrest. We had been to that property about two weeks prior and recovered a lot of stolen property, including police walkie-talkies. The suspect had also illegally hooked into power company utility lines and had been stealing power. We thought the property had been abandoned. I saw the suspect walking off the property carrying a metal window bar. As I got closer, I recognized him as the one we had been looking for, and we had had trouble with him in the past. In his previous arrest by another deputy, he had a gun, a flashlight, wore body armor, and had a handheld police walkie-talkie. As I got closer, he stopped walking off the property. I stopped my patrol car, got out and contacted him. We were maybe 35 feet apart. I asked him to step over to my car so I could question him regarding the prior crimes which occurred on that property.

When I asked him to step over, he became hostile and yelled, “For what?” I told him he knew why I was questioning him. He then looked at me with that 1,000-mile stare and with lightning speed, he dropped the cage bar he was carrying, drew a stolen Beretta 9mm pistol from his back and got off three shots at me. One shot whizzed right past my left ear. I felt the bullet go by like a bee flying past. If I had been standing a half step to the left, I would not be alive. Then all hell broke loose. I drew my gun and returned fire. I hit him with three or four shots, and he went down. I put out a “Shots fired, officer needs help” call as I went around the back of my car and put myself on the side of the engine block. I shouted orders for the suspect to stop and put the gun down, but he ignored my commands. While lying on the ground, he started firing again. I returned fire as we shot it out in the middle of the street like some John Wayne movie.

I had to reload twice. I knew the suspect was hit bad, but he refused to surrender. He dropped his gun after the last fusillade of shots, but he attempted to reach for it again. I told him to leave the gun alone, but he continued to try and grab it. I could hear sirens coming in my direction. One deputy pulled up, saw the suspect about to pick up the gun and shot him. After my 23 shots, the deputy ended the threat. I felt very lucky that he was not wearing body armor this time. His handgun was stolen and he had a stolen pick-up truck in that driveway. The coroner said he had every drug in his system, except peyote, which explained why he was able to continue in the gunfight. My patrol car was hit three times; one past my ear that lodged in the right, rear light casing, the second shot hit the rear door of the patrol car and went into the trunk, and the third round went right into the driver’s side of my seat and would have killed anybody sitting on the passenger side. Earlier that evening, a senior citizen wanted to go on a ride along with me. He originally chose me, but after my sergeant told him it was too dangerous to ride with me, he chose another deputy. Had he been with me, he would have been hit. Incidentally, he showed up, and was shocked to see the shooting scene. He was very glad he rode with the other deputy. That incident only took one minute and 38 seconds from my code-off time until the other deputy arrived. It was the longest time in my life.

- BF

Brian Smith served four years in the U.S. Marine Corps, and retired as an assistant chief with the California Highway Patrol. He resides in Bakersfield. If you have a personal “Cop Tale” to share, please contact Smith at

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