Editor's note: Cop Tales are true stories as told by law enforcement officers from all over the country. The stories are told in the first person.

As the commander of a Highway Patrol area, I drove an unmarked patrol vehicle. One morning on my way to work on a very foggy day, I started to pass a vehicle and made eye contact with a driver of another vehicle. When he looked back, he had a look on his face like he was just caught doing something wrong.

I gradually slowed in the fast lane and allowed him to pass me again while he was in the slow lane. He then moved to the fast lane in front of me to pass a group of trucks.

I had a feeling he might attempt to cut between two trucks when we reached the off-ramp to get away. Sure enough, at the last minute, he cut between two trucks, exited the freeway and took off. Luckily, I planned for his maneuvers and was able to exit the same ramp.

He drove up the ramp and went right through the stop sign at the top of the ramp without even slowing down. It was so foggy that I could hardly see across the intersection, so I had to stop and drive slowly through the intersection.

When I drove further up the road, I noticed the vehicle was crashed into a tree, both front doors were left open and no one was in or near the vehicle. When I looked in the vehicle, there were two ski masks, a sawed-off shotgun and a pistol.

I searched the area, but was unsuccessful. I was initially upset that they got away, but then I realized the fog may have been placed there by my guardian angel.

- BS

Running with the devil

While working the graveyard shift one cold and foggy December night, my partner and I were assigned a beat in the rural area of the county.

At about midnight, we received a call of an automobile accident with a rolled over vehicle with very little details to follow. We started heading that way and were eventually advised by dispatch it was a single vehicle that ran off the roadway and ended up in a field. They also advised the reporting party was waiting for us.

Due to heavy fog and limited visibility, we couldn’t drive very fast and it took a while for us to get to the scene. As we pulled up to the area, which was in the middle of nowhere, we noticed a truck parked partially on the right shoulder of the narrow, two-lane road.

We pulled up behind the vehicle and stopped. The driver got out and met my partner and I as we walked up. Off in the distance, I could hear music blaring loudly from what appeared to be a plowed-up cotton field.

The driver told us the vehicle was about 100 yards out in the field, and looked to be upside down, on its roof. The driver said he came upon it when it wasn’t so foggy and could just see the lights. He didn’t go out there and check it because he was scared.

As we started walking toward the sound of the music, I could slowly see the vehicle’s lights come into view. About that time, the beginning of a very familiar, and eerie Rock and Roll song started playing from the vehicle.

As we got up closer, I could see the driver had been partially ejected and was hanging upside down out of the window. He was obviously dead. The music was blaring very loud, so I leaned into the vehicle and turned the volume down. I couldn’t reach the keys to turn the vehicle off.

We called for the coroner and a tow truck and headed back to the warmth of our patrol vehicle to wait. After about 30 minutes, dispatch advised us the vehicle had just been stolen about an hour prior to us getting the call. Turned out the driver, who had a lengthy criminal record for taking things that didn’t belong to him, was in a hurry to make his get-a-way from the scene when he ran into a fog bank at high rate of speed and ran off the road, killing himself in the process.

Oh, I forgot to mention, the song that was playing on the radio was “Running With The Devil,” by Van Halen. I guess he really was that night.

- MR

I didn’t want to hurt her

Years ago, when I was a young cop, a number of officers and I got into a fight with a woman that was high on “Angel Dust,” now known as PCP. We eventually got her subdued and my partner handcuffed her.

We put her in the back of our patrol car and she immediately attempted to kick out the back windows with her bare feet. Once we got her fully restrained, with the help of multiple officers, we headed to the jail to get her booked.

At the jail, it required an elevator ride up to the second floor where the receiving/booking area was located.

As I stepped off the elevator, I suddenly felt a sharp pain to the back of my head. This crazy woman had slipped her handcuff off one hand and took a swing at my head with it.

Once again, the fight was on to get her subdued. With the help of other officers, we finally got her under control. I then looked at my partner and asked him how the heck did she ever get out of her handcuff?

As my head was throbbing, he told me he was afraid to put them on her too tight because he didn't want to hurt her. 

- LB

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 bmsmith778@gmail.com.

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