At the age of fifteen during the midst of a winter storm, I took off with two of my wild child friends on a booze cruise. We were driving a 1965 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser. We had stopped at a local liquor store, paid the store cashier an extra twenty dollars, and got a case of Budweiser beer. Off we went. Several hours later, we were all drunk, but decided it was time to go home. I decided since it would only be several miles back to our house, that I would strip down to my birthday suit and climb up on the roof of the Vista Cruiser. In my drunken state, I figured it would be pretty safe since the roof of this car had a large chrome luggage rack that I could hold on to. Driving erratically down a back road, I saw a Baltimore County police car pass us going in the opposite direction. "Oh my God", I yelled! "The cop car is turning around and coming after us!" I saw the red lights flashing. My friend, driving, stepped on the gas pedal and was now hitting extremely high speeds. My other friend in the Vista Cruiser was throwing out the window scores of both empty and unopened beer cans. I was freezing on the roof of this car. Attempting to readjust my body, I could only move my arms, chest and legs. I could not move the center part of my body. The chase continued. It lasted for miles until finally a police blockade was set up. The police had finally apprehended us. Was I glad. My two friends were dragged out of the Vista Cruiser and placed in handcuffs. The two police officers ordered me to get down from the roof of the car. I responded, "Sirs, I'd really like to, but I can't." The two Baltimore County police officers then said, "Boy, this is your final warning, Get off the roof of the car, now!" I replied, "Sirs, I can't. I think my testicles are frozen to the roof. Please help me, I'm hurting terribly." The two officers began laughing, hysterically. Their laughter continued for well over the next five minutes. Finally with their black leather gloves on, they tried to partially turn me on my side. One of the officers shined his flash light down into my private area. He stated to the other police officer, "Yep, his testicles are frozen to the roof. " The two police officers began another long session of laughing. The officers tried pulling me off the roof. But, when they tried, I screamed in pain. I was losing at least two layers of skin from my private parts during these attempts. Finally, one of the police officers went back to his police car and brought back a styrofoam cup that had hot coffee inside it. They poured it all around my testicles, successfully melting the ice. Finally, with great relief, I was freed. I didn't know which hurt worse, being iced to the roof, or being burned by the hot coffee. I was taken to the hospital, and my parents were called.
Anyone who knew me during my bowling years would know that would be me. There was no one more aggressive than me on the lanes. I celebrated and showboated when winning, and expressed a deep seeded anger when I was not. I got in my opponents faces, taunted them, and made fun of anything that I thought would distract them from their game focus. Bowling this one particular tournament I was not fairing very well. I couldn't get a strike to save my soul, even though the first six frames as a left-hander I was solid in the pocket. I left the seven pin each time. I missed five of six spare attempts. That was it. I exploded. I kicked the foul light and the lid to the light cover went flying down the lane. The heel to my bowling shoe went soaring about six lanes down from me. I saw a bowling ball hit my displaced heel on the lane and the ball then went into the gutter. I was laughing until I realized the bowler who threw that ball was shooting for his tenth consecutive strike in a row. He was upset. Approaching me, I saw this man was huge in size. That smile came off my face real quick. The rules do not constitute a reshoot of any obstacle in front of a bowler. I begged the tournament director to please, please make an exception in this case. The big guy was given a reshoot and went on to bowl a perfect 300 game. Probably the only reason I was allowed to live. I was presented in the aftermath, a trophy with that same heel mounted on it that said, "Bowler Most Likely To Come Unglued". To me, this was my most favorite award I ever received.
In the olden days of prisons, felonies being committed were normal daily occurrences behind the walls, fences and razor wire of our penal institutions. And not just by inmates, but the prison guards, as well.
This is the story of Cedric Porter. He was once my partner and best friend. Oh, how I remember Cedric’s first day on the job. He was not in the norm of a typical “old school” looking prison guard. Cedric was Afro-American, intelligent, hardworking, well groomed, and had a gleaming personality. Cedric was an actual product of a battle that I had waged against some other powerful, influential and unified prison staff. The process of new management hiring minorities was certainly not met with open arms from a significant portion of tenured “old school” prison employees. These same employees, through their legal representative, filed a” reverse discrimination” lawsuit against management’s fresh hiring practice. This lawsuit was not to be heard from within the judicial system. Cedric and I worked together for the next several months. We were the perfect “salt and pepper” team, per se. My respect for Cedric went much further than just that of my partner at the prison. He was a loyal and dedicated husband and a devoted father to his two young toddlers.
Then hard economic times hit. Layoffs were inevitable for most, if not all of the newly hired prison staff. That was, unless the tenured staff voted to reject a previously approved four percent pay increase. The result of that employee vote was not surprising. The new officers, with little or no seniority were expendable in the eyes of the majority of the “old school” and tenured prison staff.
I could tell Cedric was heartbroken. However, Cedric was presented another opportunity as a prison guard if he should be willing to relocate to a rural area where a newly built prison was experiencing staffing problems.
Cedric and I discussed this offer that management in the personnel division had offered him. Cedric was all for it. I was against this move. I advised Cedric that relocating to this area would be most likely putting not only himself, but his family in potential danger. I believed I had sufficient reasonable cause to make this allegation against the suspected racial prejudice practices of this particular township.
I remember telling Cedric, “This Township is not ready for an Afro-American man to live there, much less, your wife being Caucasian and your children being of mixed ethnicity.” Cedric rejected my advice by stating, “I’m not scared of anyone. No one will keep me from supporting my family.” A tactful argument ensued between the two of us. Before I knew it, Cedric, his wife and children were gone to their new location. There had been no goodbyes.
The next eight months had passed by. I had heard nothing from Cedric. At this point I had to assume that Cedric and his family were doing well at their new location. And, that I had been wrong in my contention about this township.
Several months later, I walked into the muster room, as normal, to check-in with my supervisor and receive my post assignment for the day. I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around, and it was Cedric. I almost didn’t recognize him. Cedric had lost a great deal of weight. His skin was now crusted and flaking. His face was gaunt. He looked terrible, and very sick.
I listened as my supervisor told Cedric he could not work the prison yard. However, Cedric was assigned to a perimeter guard tower where he would have no staff or inmate contact. I wondered, “Just what in the world is going on here?” Cedric and I walked out of the muster room together. Cedric was not physically able to climb the multi-tiered stairs in reaching the top of the tower. I put Cedric over my shoulder like a slinky and carried him to the top of his tower post. This was repeated for the next several weeks until Cedric became too sickly to even make the drive to work. Two days later I was informed that Cedric had been admitted to the AIDS ward in a local community hospital. I went to see Cedric. I knew the moment I saw Cedric, at best, he only had a few days of his life remaining. I asked Cedric if he desired to give me a “death bed statement”. Cedric replied in a now slightly slurred and docile toned voice, “Yes, I would.” The following is Cedric’s death bed statement that I recall from memory and had taken notes on;
“I was working in the lockdown unit. The other officers would have nothing to do with me. You were right. Everyone up there hated me, just because I was black. A call came over the radio that a white supremacist gang fight was taking place down on one of the cell blocks during exercise time. I was responding to the scene on foot with three other officers. However, when I arrived at the scene, all the other officers had disappeared. The inmates dragged me over to a cell door where the food flap popped open. The inmate inside this cell grabbed hold of my arm and pulled it through the food flap. He slit my arm with a syringe. The inmate then let me go. All of the other inmates in the exercise rotunda had disappeared too. Electronically, from the officer’s unit control panel, all cell doors were now secured. I really had no idea as to the identities of the inmates who initially attacked me, other than that they were all Caucasian. My arm was bleeding profusely. No one would help me. On my own, I got down to the institutional infirmary. The on-duty nurse began treatment. I filed the entire required incident and on the job injury reports. It was a short time later I got very sick. My request to draw workman’s compensation benefits was denied. Prison management determined that my sickness was not that of an inmate attack from an AIDS infected syringe. Their contention was that my sickness was derived from that of a promiscuous lifestyle.”
I had heard rumors from the prison “grapevine”, that the practices of “wife swapping” were commonplace in the community of the rural prison where Cedric had originally been transferred to. However, I have never attained any creditable proof to substantiate this.
Moments before Cedric had passed away, I gave him my word that I would do everything that is within legal reason to bring those to justice who were either directly involved, and or those that played a supporting role in this alleged attack. However, the days, weeks, months, years, and now, approaching the two decade mark are about to pass with still, no conclusive evidence. Although I have in the past made contact with several staff witnesses who worked at this rural prison at the time of the unproven attack on Cedric. They each supported Cedric’s claims, but refused to say anything on the record for fear of reprisals. Ironically, each of these potential witnesses resigned their career positions and overnight, seemingly vanished.
Without doubt the “stonewallers” have won all the dispositions in the Officer Cedric Porter saga. Even though murder has no statute of limitations, I’ve given up on the utterly hopeless venture to obtain admissible evidence. Some years ago, I attempted to bargain with prison management in only asking that Cedric’s death as an officer be reflected as, “His life was lost in the line of duty”. This request was firmly denied by prison management.
I only have one wish left. That Cedric’s story is heard in a public forum. I have to believe, as well, should his two children, that beyond a reasonable doubt Cedric gave his life, not only in the line of duty, but also in the pursuit of supporting and caring for his family. Cedric was a very honorable man.
The author is a former Marine A-Director Prisoner Security, a certified Nevada State Training Instructor, and a retired Nevada State Peace Officer III.
In 1985 I was attending college and needed a part time job. I applied, and got the job as a security guard at a local family owned electronics store. I couldn't believe it. This jerk who was one of the co- owners was paying me just over minimum wage. I had to buy my own uniforms and weapon. I sprung for the uniform. His store was getting robbed quite frequently and this security post was now armed. All the employees in the store wanted to see my weapon because of the extremely long length of the barrel. I refused on all requests to pull my weapon out of its holster. I cited safety reasons. Several months later the owner and I were coming out of the warehouse. We saw inside the main store that the clerk at the camera counter was being robbed. The owner said to me, "Pull your weapon out and shoot that SOB." I refused to as I replied, "Now is not the time, it's no good." The owner kept ordering me to pull my weapon out and shoot the assailant. I continued to refuse his orders. A physical struggle ensued between the owner and me. He kept trying to get my gun out of my holster. Finally, I let him have it. The owner pointed the weapon at the assailant and attempted to pull the trigger. But, the trigger didn't work. It was frozen in place. The owner was now screaming, "What the hell is the matter with this gun?" He kept yelling this repeatedly at me as he continued to struggle with the trigger. Finally, the owner turned the gun around and looked at the end of the barrel. He yelled, "This gun barrel is plugged! This ain't a real friggin' gun!" I responded, "No fooling you." The robber had got away. Shortly, in the aftermath, the police arrived on scene. They laughed hysterically at seeing that my gun was only a replica. Yes, it is true, my barrel was all plugged up. Of course I was fired on the spot.
I finally feel free, for I can sense within me the flood gates of healing taking place. The scourge is gone, and is now faced with Judgment Day. I'm not about to publicly make identification, nor am I about to list allegations directed at the scourge and/or the atrocious acts allegedly committed by the scourge.
But, I will say this. And trust when I say if one doesn't believe in God, this will surely give one pause to stop and reconsider their current beliefs.
The scourge has sent me through the whole gamut of emotions and anxieties for decades. One cannot compromise with the scourge. One cannot hide from the scourge, whether it be in the same room, or thousands of miles away. As long as the scourge breathes, the scourge is a driving force in destruction.
I have prayed for many years that no harm come to the scourge, but only to be freed one day from the scourge. In my daily prayers I asked for someone to make me aware when the scourge was gone from this Earth, in that I could be free. I had absolutely no idea how this could ever be made possible.
Recently, I was at the baptism of my two grandchildren. It was a beautiful ceremony. For, this religious sacrament admitted my grandchildren into the community of Christians in the most purified sense. At the same time this ceremony was taking place, I received an e-mail from a person I once knew, but had absolutely no communication with in nearly two decades. This person confirmed the date and time the scourge had passed away. It was during the baptism ceremony of my grandchildren.
Coincidence? The chances of that are one in a billion. Certainly not a wager that the most novice, reckless, or experienced gambler would ever place a wager on. I have a deep faith in God. Prayers are certainly answered.
I was spending the day with my son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren when the news of this horrible tragedy came over the television. I asked that their television be turned off immediately. I couldn't bear to hear this news. This is something that I always expect; I’m always heartbroken, but never surprised to hear about more acts of terror committed from the mentally ill.
Having worked in prisons for three decades, I'm well accustomed to the mentally ill, and the weapons we provide these patients. Outside of prison, in a public setting, for the mentally ill, it's not the knives, hand guns, or rifles that are most dangerous to our society; its the medications for the mentally ill; specifically, the under-over dosage of psychotropic’s.
“SWEETS” WAS SWEET WHEN PROPERLY MEDICATED
“Sweets” was a huge sized, muscular built inmate. I knew, as a prison guard, having “Sweets” in my cell block was the most dangerous of all dangers to contend with. I made a quite risky decision to hire him as my inmate unit clerk that gave him pretty much open access to any non-secured areas of the cell block. My reasoning was, keeping him locked up in a cell with nothing to do was much more detrimental to security than keeping his mind occupied and busy during normal working hours. I believed this would be much more beneficial. In the end, it had it pluses and minuses.
When I would arrive for work at the cell block at 7 AM in the morning. Just looking at “Sweets” eyes told me the whole story about what he was feeling inside his head. I could tell when “Sweets” was properly medicated and on schedule. When he was, “Sweets” was one of the nicest guys on Earth. However, when not, properly medicated, there was a burning rage in his eyes. Something similar to an animal who is about to go into the final stages of rabies. I learned during these times with “Sweets”, that inside his head, when under-over medicated with these very potent psychotropic’s, he was feeling an internal tsunami of his mind. On more than a few occasions during “Sweets” outbursts, I would call for a large contingent of staff backup. The danger loomed so large, that on many of these occasions other inmates were assisting me until staff arrived on scene. Even the other inmates knew quite well of the potential danger that “Sweets” posed.
After “Sweets” would spend a period of time in the institution’s mental health lockdown unit, he would be returned to the general inmate population; and once again, my cell block.
He never remembered during these violent episodes of what he did. He only knew of what psychiatrists’ and other inmates in the aftermath had told him. “Sweets”, in a very sincere fashion, was always apologetic. I would only ask him to make sure he goes to the infirmary to receive his medications on time. However, each time, this was short-lived.
I was stunned when “Sweets” was granted parole. He was released back into society with a twenty-day supply of psychotropic’s. His mother assured prison officials she would manage his medications properly. This too, was short-lived.
Less than a month after being paroled, “Sweets” attacked a woman and carjacked her vehicle. A high-speed chase between “Sweets” and law enforcement officers took place on Highway 95. It ended when the car “Sweets” was driving flipped multiple times, killing him instantly.
Here is the sociological dilemma for America. Twenty-two percent of the American population suffers from differing forms of mental illness. What do we do? Do we lock up in our prisons and mental health facilities this percent of the population who has divergent forms of mental illness to ensure that they are given their necessary medications in a controlled environment? Or, do we continue to allow mental health patients to live in a free environment where the risk to the rest of our society raises the stakes to their safety significantly?
People a lot more educated and smarter than I are going to have to address this on-going problem that plagues America. I don’t know what the answer is. I’m just the messenger.
For all who knew me in my youth, no one, except my grandmother, would have disputed the fact that I was a deeply troubled kid. Around my grandmother, I was akin to this little innocent child who loved to sing beautiful music. She cherished when she got to listen to my voice. Always acappella in serenading her, Grandma always said, "Keep singing, it cures a troubled soul." But, life just got more complicated and I drifted away from singing for some years. In reaching my late 40's, life was still extremely turbulent. I was then at some serious crossroads. But, for once, I began a lot of deep soul searching. In singing, here in Las Vegas, I was starting to live a dream. I was finally on Fox network singing Louie Armstrong's, "What A Wonderful World". It was well received by the audience. But, I quickly discovered that the competition and politics of the music world was not curing my inner strife. I walked away from it all, but began a new path. Using modern technology, I built a musical sound system that gave the appearance of a big band supporting my voice. I started performing at family oriented functions, and retirement homes. I never took or asked for money. For my singing was coming from my heart. It was the perfect decision. In this one particular retirement home, I was singing Sinatra's famous hits of past. I saw this lady in her 90's jumping out of her wheelchair and begin dancing. Each time the medical attendants would attempt to restrain her, she jumped back up and started dancing again. Then, a short time later during the show I saw another elderly lady sitting in the front row sobbing. I stopped singing and walked over to her and asked if she was okay. This lady grabbed my hand, firmly, and said, "Son, you just keep singing until you can't sing anymore. All this music you are singing brings back the memories of my husband and the seventy-one wonderful years of marriage that we had." I knew, for sure, at this moment, this is where I belonged.