Every Police Department has its local drunks whom all the officers recognize by sight and name. Beaufort County was no exception. Early one evening one of our regulars called in and reported a rape in progress. I was sent to meet the complainant at the Gate fast food store. The convenience store was located about a half block from the man's ex-wife's house. She was also a drunk, and even though their marriage had not worked out years ago, they did not let it stop them from getting together quite often for a drink.
Because of both of their reputations with the Sheriff's Department, none of us really believed that anything was wrong other then both of them being drunk and probably having an argument.
I arrived at the Gate fast food and pulled up in front of the door. The man came lurching out of the door toward my car. Someone who did not know him might have felt sorry for him. He had had one leg amputated and it appeared that his prosthesis did not fit well. However, on the rare occasions when he was seen sober, usually after a night in jail, he could walk with it just fine. All of us had lost all pity for him the night he took it off and tried to brain the officer, who had arrested him, with it.
As he cleared the front door, he tried to turn right to come around the front of my car to get to the driver's side door. His legs got tangled up and he fell face first into a spread eagle position on the hood of my patrol car. He slid several inches after landing on my car and I could hear his belt buckle scratching the paint from my freshly waxed car.
I sat there, with my mouth agape for several seconds, looking at him through the windshield, not believing this was happening. I called the dispatcher and advised her that I was on the scene and would be out of the vehicle trying to get the complainant off the hood of my car. I got out and saw him struggling to get up. Spittle was drooling from his mouth onto my hood. That was the last straw, I grabbed him by the arm and snatched him up and off my car. I arrested him for public disorderly conduct and placed him in the back of my car. I, having learned by other's mistakes, handcuffed him behind his back so that I did not get a prosthesis over the head.
I called the dispatcher and told her I had arrested the complainant. I got enough of the story out of him so that I could pass it on to my former partner, who was also working that night. The complainant told me that he had gone over to his ex-wife's house for a drink and when he got there he heard what sounded like a struggle. I passed this on over the radio adding that the ex-wife was probably drunk and just fell over a table trying to get to the front door.
My former partner agreed, but said he would go check it out. I headed to the jail with my complainant. On the way I heard my partner go out of the car at the alleged victim's house. A couple minutes later he came back on the radio and stated everything was all right, he went on to inform the dispatcher that he had the alleged victim in custody and was enroute to the jail with her.
I asked him what had happened and he said he would explain it to me at the jail. I arrived at the jail and deposited my complainant. Shortly after I got there, my partner pulled up with the woman who was as drunk as her ex-husband. He took her into the jail and booked her.
When he was done, he related his part of the story to me. "I pulled up and got out of my car about thirty feet from the back door. I walked slowly toward the door looking around for signs of a break in or anything that didn't look right. When I was about half way between my car and the door, I heard a scream and the 'victim' came running out of the door toward me with a butcher knife raised above her head."
"I ducked as she got to me, then came up and put a knot on her punkin head. She dropped the knife and I put her in handcuffs."
I asked him if she had said why she had come after him with a knife. "She said she thought I was her ex-husband," (the complainant whom I had already arrested) he said. "She was mad because earlier he came and knocked on the door then left before she could get to it."
My partner and I were local folk heroes with the rest of the Deputies for quite a while after that incident. We were the only two officers to ever go to a rape in progress call and arrest both the complainant and the victim.
by R.L. Dettwiler