Police Encounters #3: Not Again
Just a short time after Police Encounters #2, Police Encounters #3 was etched into my schematic psyche. After being cuffed and thrown in a car, my wife had a difficult time understanding how and why her husband was subjected to such a ridiculous circumstance and violation. It was something that actually put her in fear of losing me. No one would have ever imagined that 11 or 12 years later her unarmed brother (Derrick DD Jones) would be murdered by two Oakland Police officers, not far from his East Oakland barber shop.
My wife and I were still processing Police Encounters #2, while on Christmas day (1999) in San Francisco, I found myself in another unprovoked and unwanted fix. I had recently bought my first car, a brand new Black Acura CL, 3.0. My wife and I had only been married two months and this was our first Christmas as a married couple.
At that time we lived in a classic San Franciscan Victorian flat, located at 1858 McAllister Street, between Lyon and Baker. Our residence was located almost directly in the middle of the block. After awaking, I checked in with my wife and then proceeded to wash the car, which was parked directly in front of our house on the street.
It was a normal Christmas morning and very quiet outside. I was excited to be washing the car, getting it fresh, clean, and blinged for some Christmas travels and family visits. Suddenly I noticed police cars speeding up and down my cross streets — Baker and Lyon — but it did not bother me much, I knew it had nothing to do with me. How could it, I was minding my own business in front of my residence, washing my car.
The 5 Fulton bus was traveling in my direction, about to cross Lyon. Before I knew it a SFPD vehicle was two cars away from me and one police vehicle blocked Baker and another blocked Lyon. Understand the scene; I am washing my car on McAllister and now my block is sandwiched between two cop cars, with one police vehicle slowly moving closer to me. Additionally, because both intersections are blocked, the MUNI 5 Fulton bus stopped right behind the officer’s vehicle. The large bus could not move.
A white officer jumped from his vehicle. No one else was outside so I tried to ignore the entire scene; this must be about someone other than me. The people on the bus were watching me and the officer, probably trying to figure out what was happening. Finally I turned and looked directly at the officer with soapy car mitts on both hands, and probably dripping. As I made eye contact with the officer he moved into an athletic offensive or defensive position with one had near his hip. I was stunned and thought to myself, Not Again – Seriously!!! What is this???
In absolute bewilderment and shock I looked at the people on the virtually empty bus and they were watching the scene intently. How embarrassing! I thought to myself, “I am so glad my wife is not witnessing this.” If she would have pulled back the living room curtain she would have had a horrified front row seat.
The officer was in position and posture, ready to chase me to the left or right. I was so perplexed and stunned that this was happening again; I don’t remember saying one word. In what seemed like an eternity I stood still facing the officer as he stood in a linebacker position, attempting to anticipate which way I would run. I then saw the officer on Lyon radio to the police in front of me, and heard through the radio on his shoulder, “That’s not him.” At that point the officers at Baker and Lyon sped away. The officer in front of me jumped in his vehicle and sped off, followed by a slow crawl of the 5 Fulton bus. Sirens never sounded as they approached or departed, only their supped-up engines could be heard. I have no idea who they were looking for or why I was approached.
I finished washing my car and contemplated if I should share the encounter with my wife. I told her as soon as I walked back in the house and I cannot verbally explain her devastated and helpless response. This happened in silence, just feet from her living-room window. Not sure how readily one can understand the fear a Black wife or mother has for her Black husband or son(s). If she had it her way, she would have never allowed me to leave the house again. I don’t recall how we spent the remainder of that Christmas day. It would have been nice if that was my last encounter, but incident #4 happened shortly thereafter…