|True stories by Murl Harpham|
HOW FRIENDLY FIRE CAN HAPPEN
One night my partner and I were burglary patrolling down an alley in downtown Eureka. I was driving and checking all the doors and windows on the left and my partner was doing the same on the right. I shined my light up a stairway and suddenly saw that the door at the top of the stairs had been pried open. I told my partner and he told me he would cover the back and for me to drive around and cover the front.
A few weeks before burglars had broken in and bounced the safe down the back stairs into a pickup and had taken it out in the county and forced it open. It had been found the next day.
When I got around to the front door I found it standing open. I was focused and not thinking to well, otherwise I would have realized the obvious. Burglar entered back door and exited the front door.
My partner and I had no way to communicate with each other or anyone else. He had entered the building from the rear and I was now climbing the front stairs. I entered a large room and was checking it out when a time clock jumped behind me making a rather loud sound in a quiet room. I spun around and almost blew it off the wall.
I spotted a door across the room and went to it. As I grabbed the knob it was suddenly pulled from my hand and the door swung open. There stood my partner, pointing his gun at me and me doing the same to him.
After we had finished checking the building we sat down and talked about the mistake we had just made. We never went through an academy or had a training officer. It was learning on the job. I visualized what could have been and what the headlines in the papers would have said. “Two officers shoot each other.” We never made that mistake again. We made mistakes, but not that one.