Continuing with Cricket. As you may have guessed...the body on the floor was not the first time I'd seen Cricket. Cricket was a bad guy...pure and simple. The ink on his body told of sufficient crime and violence to fill an entire season of The Shield. And, he was an informant of mine.
I met Cricket when I was working gangs with a former MS-13 gentleman named Al Acosta. Al had never been arrested and got hired by the PD. It is true that former bad guys make the best good guys but we will get to that soon enough. Al and I were driving our lowered Chevy Crown Vic through the hood (hey...a gang Unit needs to make an impression right?) when one of my other informants called me on the huge boot-sized phone we had in the car.
"Hey Suarez...this huero named Cricket is going to Manny's place to light him up...he's strapped."
The caller hung up. This was obviously a business dispute, but hey...information that one armed homie was off to shoot another homie was sufficient to get us on the hunt for him. I knew where Manny lived and if he knew someone was coming to kill him, he was likely not at home. Courage was not Manny's strong suit even though he liked to puff up and display to the contrary. I knew who Cricket was. He was an associate of the mafia and a well regarded mid-level thug. And I knew he was violent, and had likely already checked off the "killed other men in anger" line on his resume.
And there he was...dressed in the stylish Vato attire of the 1990s. Oversized everything.
Al swerved the Crown Vic in front of him in his best Kojak fashion and I flew out of the car, Smith & Wesson 5906 in hand.
"Put your hands on the fucking hood homie" (Today I suppose one might say something like "sir, please place your open and outstretched hands upon my newly washed and waxed city issued police car for your own safety"). He hesitated...weighing his options...then complied.
I know...I know...it is thought that placing a suspect with his hands on the hood is not a safe practice because it gives him options of resistance that other positions may not offer. That may be true, but as one wise and seasoned officer once told me, "If you do everything they teach at officer safety school, you will never get into a shooting".
I holstered and moved up behind Cricket, moving my hands around the areas where I knew bad guys carried weapons...and there through the cloth of his oversized pants, I felt what could only be a mid sized revolver.
Usually at this time guys will yell "GUN" and get all excited. Well...that was not how the Gang Unit rolled. I stepped away to about 5 meters, and addressed Cricket.
"Cricket...do not put your hands into your pockets...if you do I will kill you where you stand...do you understand?"
"Good...now keeping your hands at your sides, turn around and face me...slowly".
He did. I noted the angry expression of defiance and desire to fight. That was good.
"Cricket, is that pistol in your pocket real?"
He advised me in rather colorful language that it was, and something about how it related to my sexuality and the animal kingdom...more or less.
"Splendid...now here is what we are going to do. We are going to have a contest. My friend Al is going to walk to the other side of the street, so he is not a party to this. And if you do succeed, you will have an unimpeded get away through these houses."
I looked over at Al with raised eyebrows waiting his approval.
Al shrugged and said, "Sure...I don't give a fuck...you want me to say GO when I get there?"
"An excellent idea...when Al says 'GO', you go for your gun. No other cop in all of California will ever give you this chance. I will wait until your hand is deep in your pocket before I even go for mine...just to make it fair...alright Cricket?"
We stood there for a moment, and then Al lit up a cigar and began walking across the street.
And halfway there Cricket the killer began to cry and told me he didn't want to die. He didn't die that day.
The pistol in his pocket was listed as "found property", with Cricket's prints all over it, and Cricket became one of my best informants.