Have you ever seen a cop performing a pat search of a suspect and heard them asking crazy or stupid questions about whether the person being searched has any rocket propelled grenades, nuclear submarines or kilos of crack cocaine? The term for it is a mouthful…the Transderivational search. The point is to basically dazzle the subject with your babbling bullshit, so they are too busy thinking about what you are saying and are NOT thinking about punching you in your favorite face. This is the story of one such time…
So no shit there I was… It was a graveyard shift in the early fall. It was raining slightly and had been very busy all shift with disturbances and domestics and even a stabbing. The rest of the shift was busy at two major scenes and the calls continued to pour in. It was (of course) at this point when radio advised there was a “Car versus building MVA” (Motor Vehicle Accident) in my district. The call was at an apartment complex near a university campus. Most of the residents of the complex are students at the campus and it is frequently a problem location with the obligatory alcohol offenses, overdoses, domestics, fights and an unusually high number of mentally ill subjects.
Radio advised the Reporting Party had been woken up by a loud crash. When he opened his eyes, there was the grill of a car inches from his face. This was unusual since there was normally a wall there and he does not park vehicles inside his residence…especially after going through the wall. I was already disgruntled thinking this was going to be a DUI and how I would be busy with it for several hours…unless I could try to pawn it off on state! As I come into the area, I turn on my spotlight and start sweeping it around looking for the offending vehicle. A moment later Radio provides an update from the reporting party. Dispatch advises the driver of the vehicle had climbed out of the car while screaming nonsensical gibberish. He then stripped off all his clothes and began to run through the apartment complex, “Screaming and growling like an animal.” I was unfortunately no more than a mile or two away.
“Fuck” I think. “That’s just what I need…a damn naked guy!” Now let me back up a second and explain. I was only a few years out of the academy, but I still remembered sitting in class in wide eyed horror listening to stories of “crazy naked people” with supernatural strength who would beat up scores of officers and occasionally be forced to be shot, because they were immune to pain or any other tools available. There have been numerous incidents of crazy naked people taking an officer’s weapon and shooting them with it. Now let me explain…the mere fact that they are naked does not magically impart some form of supernatural strength or immunity to pain. It can however be an indicator of such.
There are two main reasons law enforcement encounter crazy naked people. They are usually high on PCP or are extremely mental and experiencing something called, “Excited delirium.” Neither of these is a good thing and both raise the core temp of the subject, often causing them to strip off their clothing. Many “arrest related deaths” are now being found to be excited delirium and law enforcement is learning just how dangerous this condition is for the suspect and have worked with the medical community to establish medical protocols for dealing with this sort of situation.
At the time however, all I can think about is how badly I do NOT want to be fighting with someone who is unnaturally strong, immune to pain, wet and NAKED. I ask if there is another unit who can start my way? I wait…cricket….cricket….cricket. Finally after a full minute or so the shift lieutenant advises he can be enroute…from the opposite side of the county. They had just wrestled with an elderly suspect who punched his 55 year old sister in the face, ripped her shirt, bit her breast and then ripped the gas line out of the wall and was trying to light the house on fire. I kid you not. Either way the LT was over an hour drive time away if he were to drive “normally.”
Crap. Now I’m even more disgruntled. Calls start to come in from the neighboring apartment complex about a 20’s year old male running up and down the roads between apartment units, buck naked and making strange grunting noises. I start driving back and forth between the units looking for the suspect. As I do I notice the communal mailbox was smashed and looked like it had been drug approximately 50 yards, over the curb, across some grass, down a slope and was partially wedged under the vehicle that was buried in the side of the apartment complex wall. What a damn cluster, I think. I am running options through my head as I look for the suspect of how I’m going to handle the situation. I’m coming up…well…completely blank. I have NO idea what I’m going to do when I find naked guy. What I do know is that I do NOT want to fight with a naked guy and I certainly don’t want one to try to take my gun and shoot me with it.
At that moment, I spot him. He’s walking directly towards me and swinging his arms back and forth erratically like he’s swatting at imaginary bees. I absently notice the callers were all wrong. The subject isn’t naked. He’s wearing a pair of tall socks with what looks like cat faces on them. While the naked guy isn’t particularly imposing…he looks like he’s maybe 150 pounds just as he is…soaking wet, he is acting more than a bit crazy.
I get out of my car, still not knowing what I’m going to do. I try the low key approach…this usually works for me after all. I start trying to talk to naked guy. His face is rippling and twisting through a variety of unusual facial expressions and he’s making a weird growling noise. He appeared to have no idea I was there, but was staring at my lights and swinging his arms around erratically. He doesn’t appear to hear me so to get his attention, I yell, “Hey!” The kid stops and his head turns toward me really slow as he starts growling threateningly. Yup. Growling…like a dog trying to scare away the evil mailman.
As he takes a few steps towards me, the naked guy starts to SWELL. Like he is that guy from Big Trouble In Little China. I’m briefly reminded of the time I was snorkeling in Mexico and saw a neat looking fish drifting towards me. I drifted towards it and it drifted towards me, both of us checking out the other. Then the fish started to swell and that was when I noticed all the spines along it’s side as they started to stick outwards. I remember the dry observer voice in my head had proclaimed, “The Blow Fish toxin is the 3rd most venomous poison in the world.” Now I have no idea whether that little tidbit was correct, but it certainly imbued me with a desire to get away from the damn fish. Watching the naked guy walk towards me as he started to puff up his chest and arms was a similar feeling, “Look at the incredibly dangerous naked guy in his natural habitat children! See how he puffs himself up like that to warn off his prey?”
I’m still not sure how I’m going to play things as naked guy walks towards me, but being alone, I know I don’t want to escalate things if I don’t have to. I decide to try to delay things…so I start talking.
I start up a stream of babbling bullshit, trying to keep the naked dude off balance. I exclaim, “Holy shit bro, was that you in that car!? Is that your car, or your parent’s car? That’s crazy! Dude you could get hurt like that. Damn man, you had to be going fast! How fast were you going? Do you want to be checked out by the fire department?” The naked guy falters for a second and gets a confused look on his face. His body is jerking backwards and forwards in place like he can’t decide which direction he wants to go. I keep up my babbling stream of nonsense, not giving naked guy a chance to answer any of my questions, but verbally hitting him with barrage after barrage of non stop bullshit.
I’m getting hopeful as naked guy is jerking his head from side to side and making strange noises. I have my Taser hidden along the back of my leg as I keep up the babble. I tell the suspect, “Damn man, I’m hurting just LOOKING at your car! I hope you’re okay! It’s not a big deal or anything, I bet the Fire department would LOVE to take a look at you! I mean they left their xbox to come out here. You play xbox? Hey bro, why don’t you just come on over here and hop on in and I will give you a lift to where they’re at. You know, EVERYONE loves the fire department! What’s your favorite ice cream? Hop on in and I will give you a lift!”
As I say that last part I take a step back and open the back door of my patrol car. I give a sort of half bow and sweep my arm inside like a chauffeur and exclaim, “Your chariot awaits sir!” I’m holding my breath as I wait to see if the crazy guy will take the bait.
To my surprise and delight…he does! He is still making weird noises and jerking weirdly as he climbs into the back seat. I grimace as his nasty naked butt settles on my seat, but quickly exclaim, “Thank God!” and slam the door shut. I don’t bother to handcuff him yet…I’m just trying to buy time until another unit can arrive to help and am obviously not worried about any concealed weapons. I advise radio I have one quasi detained in my vehicle, but that I still need a second unit. I hop in my car and instantly start up my constant stream of verbal nonsense, randomly asking him about cats and then asking him where he went to grade school. I figure the more I can keep this weirdo off balance, the less likely it is I will have to roll around with his naked ass and mess up my pretty little uniform in the rain.
I drive around the corner to where his vehicle impacted the building and where the fire department was located. I was greeted by a welcome and wondrous sight…several State cops were on scene as well as a campus police officer. Hooray I thought! Now if I need to hobble him (PC term for hog tying), I will have help. The rest of the situation was pretty anticlimactic. The naked guy alternated between being aggressive and screaming and growling and being easily distracted by lights and shiny objects.
Luckily for me one of the state guys was a DRE (Drug Recognition Expert) and offered to take the entire case off my hands. Ummm…hell yeah! I was ecstatic! Other than a brief agency assist report, I did not have to deal with any of the DUI or even the cluster of an accident (How do you even do THAT collision drawing?). Once state said they would handle the situation, I handed dude off to them…and sped away before they changed their minds.
In my (possibly delusional) opinion…I kept myself from having to go hands on with a “crazy naked guy” purely because of the Transderivational search…also known as the “Pontificating bullshit technique.” So…when in doubt…start babbling some confusing nonsense at someone to try to distract them or keep them off balance until you can figure out a better plan of action!
Also published on Medium.