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Departments : The Beat

A Life-Threatening Meeting With Some Old "Friends"

A rookie cop clings to life after he respond to a "routine" call.

April 01, 1996  |  by Daniel Rodriguez

A rookie cop clings to life after he responds to a "routine" call.

It was May 2, 1995, and my first night work­ing the graveyard shift with the Harvey (III.) Police Department. Harvey is a large suburb about 10 miles south of Chicago. I had already responded to several calls, including a high speed pursuit that started in Chicago with the Illinois State Police chasing a stolen vehicle. The long pursuit ended in a car crash and a foot pur­suit in which the subjects opened fire on us.

Nothing could have prepared me for my next call.

I had just cleared the pursuit and stopped to talk with Ofc. Billy Moore who was doing paperwork about two blocks from where I was about to be dispatched to.

"Harvey to 45, Assist a citizen locked out of his vehicle in the alley at 154th and Park."

Moore asked if I wanted him to come with me, and I told him no.

As I pulled into the alley, a black male walked toward my car. I had arrested him a few weeks back for possession of a con­trolled substance. I called out to him, "Hey Mackenzie, you call the police?"

"Yeah, I called the mother fu--ing police," he responds.

As I got out of my patrol car, I felt a sharp blow to my head. After I turned around, six to eight subjects, two of whom I knew, ran up on me and threw me against my squad car.

As I fell to the ground, I made my first call for help. I then attempted to pull my weapon to shoot at least one of them, or make enough noise to scare them off. I was unsuccessful, and some­how lost my weapon during the attack.

That's when I sent out a second call for help. The attackers took turns standing on my hands and feet while the others beat me and smashed my face with a brick. As I fought to stay conscious, I tried to engrave their faces on my mind.

I forced my left hand out from under a foot and gave another call for help. The dispatcher must have been asleep or something because a Dolton police unit called out. "Harvey, that's Rodriguez calling for help. Where is he?"

Finally, the attackers stopped, and through swollen eyes I saw Mackenzie pointing my weapon at my head. The one dubbed "Cheesy" said. "Do him. Do him. Do that fu--ing cop."

"He's already dead:' said Mackenzie.

At the sound of sirens, the attackers ran, fought to stand up, but I only got to my knees. My blood was everywhere.

"Oh God. Harvey, help me. Send me a res­cue," I called out on the radio.

I got no response from dispatch, but I heard the other unit coming to help me. They found my squad, and I fought to get to my feet.

Officers Aaron Taylor and Moore picked me up. Moore provided cover in case the subjects, were still in the area. I collapsed over the hood of my squad car, and I could hardly breathe.

"Harvey, where the f--k is the rescue unit?"

Moore yelled out over the radio.

Squad cars from all over the south side of the district pulled up. Taylor and Moore lay me on the ground. As I lay in Taylor's lap, I looked around and saw squad cars and officers from faraway police departments running around with shotguns and pistols ready. The Illinois State Police helicopter was overhead. I looked up at my friend and saw tears running down his cheeks.

That is the last thing I remember until I woke up two days later in a room in Ingalls Hospital.

Later, we discovered that the attack had been an ambush planned for whoever showed up. And, a street gang known as the "Stones" were responsible for the attack.

I could have given up that night, but my willingness to serve and protect comes from my heart. Never give up, and always fight back.

Daniel Rodriguez is an officer with the Harvey (Ill.) Police Department.

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