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My Second Domestic Dispute with a Crazy Family

I heard the dispatcher give a domestic disturbance call to one of the Deputies who worked for me, one evening. I recognized the name. It was my old one-legged friend who was always having trouble with his son. I didn't really think the officer would have any trouble unless I showed up, since the whole family hated me. I explained a little about the family over the radio to the responding officer and told him that I would be close but would not come to the scene unless he needed me.

The officer was on the scene for about ten minutes, then he came back in service and explained that the boy was drunk again, and was giving his parents trouble. The Deputy stated that he had informed the boy that if he got called back tonight he would arrest him for disturbing the peace.

About an hour went by and then the dispatcher called the officer and told him that the father was back on the phone requesting that he come back, because the trouble had started again. The officer called me on the radio, "Sarge, I think you better come with me. He already knows when I get there he is going to jail."

I told him I was on my way. We arrived at the same time. The family had moved since the last time I had dealings with them. They now were living in a trailer. The back of the trailer faced the road and they used the back door, which opened into the hall at the bathroom, for the front door. The trailer sat about five feet off the ground. They had built a porch out of two-by-fours at the door. The porch was about five feet wide and six feet in length.

We stepped up onto the porch and knocked on the door. We heard running inside and a door slam. The old man, who had called, opened the door. The other officer asked where the boy was and the old man pointed at the closed bathroom door directly in front of us.

"He's in there, I told him I called you again. I want him out of here, so do what you got to do." The old man had taken one look at me then directed everything at the other officer. It was apparent he still didn't like me.

The other officer knocked on the bathroom door. He was standing inside the trailer in the hallway. I was standing in the outside doorway because of the cramped quarters.

The boy, yelled from the other side of the bathroom door, "Just get out of here and leave me alone!"

"Come on out, I told you what was going to happen if I had to come back," the other officer told him.

The boy kept screaming for us to leave but finally he opened up the door a couple of inches. The Officer pushed open the door and grabbed the young man by the arm. He said, "You're under arrest," as he pulled the boy out. He pulled him hard, kind of slinging him toward me in the doorway.

The door where I was standing opened outward. It was all the way open resting against the trailer. I stepped backward onto the porch as the boy came toward me. As he got to the door frame he grabbed hold with both hands. I reached up and grabbed his right arm breaking his grip on that side. I pulled but he had a good hold with his left hand. He swung to his left so that he was outside on the porch facing the open door. He still had hold of the door frame with his left hand, and he now grabbed the door with his right.

I attempted to loosen his grip but had no luck, so I wrapped my arms around his chest, placed my foot against the trailer and pushed backwards as hard as I could. I heard ripping metal and wood as the door and door frame tore loose from the trailer. We both fell backwards. The boy let the door go and grabbed hold of a couple of two-by-fours on the floor of the porch. There were several inches of space between each two-by-four making up the floor of the porch.

The other officer had gotten outside by now and helped me pry him free of the porch. We handcuffed him and took him to the other officer's car. As I walked to my car I was chased by the one legged father on his crutches. He kept screaming that I had destroyed his trailer and beaten up his son.

I tried to tell him that none of this would have happened if his son had not resisted. He did not want to listen to anything I had to say. He kept telling me that he was going to have my job for this. He had completely forgotten that he was the one who called. To listen to him you would have thought that I had just been driving by and decided to stop, arrest his son for no reason, and rip the door off the trailer.

The next day the Sheriff called me into his office and told me that I along with him, as my boss, and the Sheriff's Department were being sued for $2,000 for damages to the trailer. After I explained what had happened the Sheriff told me not to worry about it. He said he doubted that it would ever make it to court.

The Sheriff was right, it never went to court, neither did the boy. The attorney for the family and the attorney for the county struck a deal. They dropped their suit and we dropped our charges and the family packed up and moved back to the state of New York. I didn't like dropping the charges on the boy but it surely was good to be rid of that group once and for all. It was kind of nice not have to worry about the law suit too.

Ralph L. Dettwiler
(Former) Sergeant
Beaufort County Sheriff's Department
Beaufort, South Carolina

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