One night, I'd been pushing the speed limit hard to make Code 7 with two other bluesuits when the dispatcher assigned me a one-car minor accident. It was 3 a.m. and the call was two beats out of my district.
I responded, "10-4," in a calm and professional voice.
As I pulled up onto the interstate, I could see the accident. The vehicle was a station wagon with the front end pushed back to the door post. The car was totaled, sitting in the middle of the freeway with no other vehicle in sight. I pulled behind the wreck and turned on my reds.
"You OK?" I asked the driver. He nodded and said, "I hit a cow!" I could tell he was no cowboy, because on the far side of the freeway stood one of the biggest bulls I had ever seen. Having been a cop for 20 years, I've seen a lot of bull, so I know about this kind of thing.
When looking at the man's driver's license, I noticed the bull was inching back toward the freeway. I told the driver I would be right back and slipped across the lanes to drive the bull back into the lot, hoping to prevent more paperwork should the next driver fail to yield him the right-of-way.
As I jumped off the shoulder of the highway and down in front of that bull, I realized that the reasonable and prudent man the law speaks of is not your garden-variety police officer. He would have known that this animal was extremely angry. A reasonable and prudent man would have known that after this ton of temper had been slammed by a speeding car, a lone cop yelling and waving his arms would not impress him much. Looking back, from the vantage point of the reasonable and prudent man I have become, I can say this was a case of seriously impaired judgment. I'm sure of it, because the bull ducked his head and charged.
Being a young, lean protector of the innocent, I chose what I saw as my only option. I made a run for it. But, however young and fast I was at the time, I wasn't fast enough, and the charging bull hooked me in the left back pocket of my department-issue uniform pants, catapulting me into the air like a blue woolen bullet.
Instantly scrambling to my feet, I saw the bull still coming. Before I knew it, I drew my gun and capped off two rounds. When hit, the bull turned a cartwheel. His head came around again, leading me to believe he was still attacking, so I fired a third time.
The driver came running toward me yelling, "Good shooting! Good shooting!" I had given the bull's head what looked like a bowling ball grip right between the horns.
The bull's owner turned out to be an old woman who told me that the crazy bull had broken down her fence the day before, nearly killing one of her grandchildren. She was worried about what to do with the bull when I solved her problem.
This story is no bull. It happened on April 14, 1978 in Garland, Texas. While visiting the Garland Police Department last week, I swear I heard someone call me "Bulldozer" again.
Steve Sederwall is a retired police officer who owns his own women's western hat business.