Don't Get Out of the Car!
Van Alstine's desire to get Foxworth out of the vehicle for a field evaluation was subordinate to his need to find out who he was dealing with. He asked Foxworth and his passenger for identification. Foxworth surrendered his, but the goateed man occupying the right front passenger seat said he didn't have one.
Despite his assertion, the man was nonetheless digging in the pockets of his blue jeans for something.
"Perhaps you have some other form of ID?" Van Alstine asked through the driver's window.
This time the passenger, Anthony Bernard King, didn't reply. He just stared out the windshield. That was when Van Alstine noticed the man's left hand gravitating toward the door handle.
"Don't get out of the car!" Van Alstine ordered.
No sooner had he uttered the words than Van Alstine saw the door fly open and King bail out and skirt past the rear of the vehicle before running.
Van Alstine was hot on the man's heels, following King as the man sprinted between a small wooded area on the left side of the road and a storage facility on its right.
Going to the Ground
Officer Arnoldo Vega, Van Alstine's backup officer, pulled up to the scene. Seeing the chase, he attempted to pull his patrol car ahead of King and cut him off. But as he pulled abreast of the man, Vega spotted a firearm in King's right hand.
"He's got a gun!" Vega yelled over the police radio as he threw open his driver's door so that it struck King's side.
King hit the ground hard, his black ski coat bearing the brunt of the impact and allowing him to roll a couple of times before coming up to his knees. Van Alstine was now on top of him, arms outstretched in preparation for tackling King before the man could get his footing.
But instead of resuming his flight, the 24-year-old King did something unexpected—he spun around and extended his right arm toward Van Alstine.
Van Alstine never saw the 9mm, only a bright orange sunburst that split the night. With the muzzle flash came a deafening crack that heralded a tidal wave of pain that crashed down on the officer's neck and head.
Is it fatal? Van Alstine thought.
The only thing Van Alstine was sure of was that he was still conscious and therefore committed to fighting for his life so long as he had a breath of life. An academy mantra—"Fight until you have nothing left to fight with! Don't give up!"—echoed in his mind.
As King rose to his feet and assumed a shooter's stance, Van Alstine turned toward his assailant, whose eyes glared down the length of the gun's barrel at him.
Can I draw my own sidearm and have my rounds be effective and not hit a passing motorist or someone in one of the residences beyond? Van Alstine wondered.
Van Alstine's mind was firing on all cylinders, considering and discounting options faster than at any point in his life. If he'd been decisive on foregoing the firearm, he was equally committed to his alternative course of action: Close in on the bastard.
Hoping to force a rushed shot by the suspect and hoping to prevent a second trigger pull altogether, Van Alstine charged. His body slammed into King's and both men tumbled onto the ground.
A life-or-death fight for the weapon ensued, with Van Alstine striking King's face and body with his fists and yelling for the man to drop the weapon. In a desperate bid to wedge King's firearm between their two bodies, Van Alstine wrapped his arm around King's and squeezed.
For a few seconds the maneuver worked, giving Van Alstine some measure of optimism—optimism that evaporated the moment he lost control of King's arm and with it his bearing as to the gun's whereabouts.
Blindly pinwheeling his arms in an effort to prevent King's forearm from bringing the weapon up, Van Alstine suddenly felt the heat of King's gun barrel pressed behind his left ear.
Reflexively, Van Alstine's left hand shot up to take the gun out of battery while his right attempted to create some space between the weapon and his head. Again, he yelled for King not to shoot as his fingers fumbled Braille-like for King's Jennings 9mm pistol. His hand locked onto its barrel just as the suspect squeezed the trigger.
A malfunction? Or had he succeeded in knocking the gun out of battery? Van Alstine didn't know. He only knew that he'd best make good on the break.