Hoops and Games.
2,327 words; about a 12 minute read
Location: Bison Drive, Moyock NC
Timeline: April 10th
Surveillance, or Stake-Outs, was always the same for Levi. At least for the most part. They by necessity included boredom, coffee and farts. They just did. He glanced through the window toward a run down two story bungalow house that was in bad need of everything: painting, mowing, and it looked like a roof job.
More importantly to the persons living there, there weren’t that many cameras in the neighborhood and people tended to not be too nosey. Right now they were sitting in an old unassuming Impala they’d pulled from the impound lot (the car having been turned over to them in lieu of the previous owner not paying more fees than it was worth) and had set the car up in front of a willing resident’s place and left it there to blend in for a few days before.
He and Mason had set up shop earlier that morning. It was his turn in the passenger seat and he was reviewing camera footage from the cars hard-wired system, as they tried to track comings and goings for the place.
They needed enough for a warrant.
“I can’t believe we had to troll informants for two weeks to get something leading back to the Hogan cousins,” Levi groused as he sipped at his travel mug. “The dip shits can barely form words on a good day so maybe I shouldn’t be surprised.”
Mason kept his eyes on the residence they were observing as he spit a stream of tobacco juice into the bottle he was using before returning it to the cup holder. He shifted his weight slightly in an effort to keep his holster Sig Sauer from digging further into his side due to the small car’s cramped seats.
“We should be lucky the two decided to cut out their middle man, otherwise there wouldn’t have been any pissed off competitors to rat them out,” Mason said with his Louisiana accent coming out slightly. It was true, Levi and Mason had been spending a lot of legwork trying to determine who these catalytic converter thieves were, but so far the intel had paid off.
"It's a continuous cycle," Levi said. "And we mainly sweep up the dumb ones, making room for the next crop to come into the vacuum and hope that we can slow things down."
As he gazed through the sedan's window, he saw activity as one of the cousins came out of the house and was puttering around in their yard. "Ok Benny, do something notable," Levi coached.
Mason looked up as he also noticed the man who had exited the house. He tried to sit lower in the seat, which was hard to do given the small car. He pulled the small pair of binoculars he had in his lap and put them up to his eyes as he watched.
"He's not really doing much of anything, probably waiting for someone to roll up," Mason offered before looking over to Levi, "Think he's waiting for his dealer to swing by?" They had pulled the two cousin's sheets before and Benny had several drug charges, mostly for possession. He'd spent some time in the county lockup for a few, but had never done hard time.
"Checking the street, looking to see if anything looks out of place," Levi pondered aloud. "And his cousin could be running out the back for all we know." Levi didn't make any rush movements as he watched Benny scuttle about the yard, messing about the old cars being used as yard decoration.
"Yeah, he's scoping," Levi said after a few minutes. "He's not really doing anything. Just trying to be cute."
Mason could see through the binoculars Benny fidgeting as he looked up and down the street. Like all tweakers, he had that nervousness about him, the constant scratching at things that weren't there as the meth fried your brain. After a few moments, Benny turned his back to the street and a cell phone came out in his hand. Mason whistled slightly before he looked over to Levi.
"Benny's moving up in the world, got himself a brand new iPhone," Mason said before he put his eyes back to the binoculars, "He's making a call right now, but he's definitely come into some cash if he's got that thing."
"Think they'd have learned to stick to burners," Levi commented, dropping the binos into his lap and plucking out his notebook to make a few notes. He froze as headlights entered the street behind them and moved toward their quarry. "Shit," he commented softly. "Freeze, incoming vehicle." They'd piled a blanket into the sedan's rear window and the side windows were tinted enough that a passer by's casual glance shouldn't notice them.
A brief flash in the side mirror was enough for him to identify the driver. "Donald Shay plus one," he remarked without turning his head or moving until the black pickup had passed. The truck pulled to the side and he watched Benny glance around then approach the passenger side where the window was winding down.
Levi made another note and said, "Well. There's probable cause on Benny. Consorting with a known felon goes against his parole. It's enough to pull over Shay too, actually."
Mason continued to watch the truck before looking back to the rear plate. "Tango Delta Zebra - 3785, NC plates," he said as he heard Levi writing it down before he looked over. Since they had PC now for a warrant, Mason and Levi needed to sit on the residence until it came through to go in. After all, they'd only seen one cousin.
Mason pulled out his phone and scrolled through the contact list until he had the right one. They had a handheld radio, but most of these autotheft guys had police scanners handy, so the radio was an emergency use only.
Levi had his binoculars up and was watching the scene, trying to decide. He watched as Benny took an envelope from the vehicles passenger and he shoved it into his back pocket.
"I think they just did some sort of deal," he commented, his eyes locked on what was going on. "They passed something to Benny. Stupid place to do a deal though...right out in the open." Levi chewed on his lip for a bit and said, "Have a uni follow Shay and find a good reason for a traffic stop. Give it a few blocks."
Levi cut off in mid sentence as he saw Benny's cousin Chad come stalking out of the house. The tow headed blonde young man was gangly and shirtless. He started yelling and pointing before he was halfway to Shay's pickup. Benny had taken a few steps back and his face glancing rapidly between his cousin and the pickup. Through his binoculars, he could see Chad looked paler than he remembered and his eyes looked sunken. Then Chad's hand was pulling something glinting from the small of his back and Levi swore.
"Gun," he yelled out, tossing the binoculars into the back seat and starting the car. Shot's rang out as Chad fired into the pickup. Benny looked shocked as Levi yanked the car into drive and it surged from it's parking spot and he activated the flashing dash lights. Return fire came from the pickup, striking Chad as Benny stumbled away and the pickup roared off, swerving down the street. Levi braked to a stop and saw Chad writhing on the ground. The investigator hadn't been belted in and he flung open the door and was drawing his sidearm as he spoke. "Call it in. Have Fitz stop Shay, he's armed and dangerous so use caution. We'll need a bus and backup."
Mason threw open the door, radio already in one hand while he drew his Sig Sauer with his other. "212, Justice - Signal 170 at 347 Forsythe, Priority 1. We are going to need additional units and EMS on standby. Suspect vehicle leaving the area proceeding northbound Forsythe, black F150, occupied times two. Tango Delta Zebra - 3875, approach with caution," he said .
Rushing forward, his sidearm out Levi headed for Chad and saw that the young man was bleeding from the arm and side of his head. It looked like Shay's return fire had skipped a bullet along the arm, catching Chad in the ear. "Sheriff's Department," Levi roared out."Freeze."
Chad looked stunned and Levi took advantage of that. Chad was starting to get to his feet, fumbling for his gun when Levi hit him with a shoulder block that caused Chad's feet to tangle and he went down onto his face. Levi holstered his gun, pulled cuffs from the small of his back and snapped one on Chad's left wrist. Scooping the arm so as not to pull the shoulder out of socket he quickly had Chad's left wrist in the small of his back.
Landing on his wounded shoulder caused Chad to scream out and momentarily freeze in shock as new pain flooded his brain. Looking up, Levi focused his eyes on Benny who had paused as Chad had been taken down and Levi roared out, "Stay where you are Benny. Sheriff's Department. Don't run, you're in enough trouble as it is. Mason. Take charge of Benny, would you?"
"I got him," Mason said as he pulled his own service weapon and held it in the ready position before addressing Benny. "Down on the ground Benny, arms out by your side. Do it now," he commanded as cousin quickly complied. Benny was always the first to give up. Mason holstered his sidearm and pulled his cuffs before kneeling next to the man.
Levi felt Chad start to move and the younger man found his voice, swearing and yelling. Levi knelt with Chad's cuffed hand firmly grasped in both of his. "Gimme your other hand, Chad," Levi told him. "Small of the back like a good citizen."
Chad spit an oath and piped out, "It hurts. I'm bleeding!!"
"I bet it does," Levi told him. "Now gimme your wrist. I can't help stop the bleeding until you're secured. It's the rules."
Grudgingly, Chad brought his right arm to the small of his back and Levi cuffed it. Checked for tightness then double locked the cuffs and checked on Mason.
Mason ratcheted his own cuffs around Benny's wrists before he grabbed his right upper arm. "Come on, sit up," he said as he helped ease the man over into a sitting position. "You boys mind telling us what that was all about," Mason asked glancing between the two men.
"Screw you," Chad said bitterly. "I know my rights. Lawyer cop asshole, sir. Benny, you shut your mouth. He wants his lawyer too."
Levi helped Chad to a kneeling position, then levered him up onto his feet and began frisking him. "Be nice, Chad," he said with humor in his voice. He made eye contact with Mason as he flagged Chad's pockets out and checked the area accessible to hands for any weapons, needles or the like.
Meeting Mason's eyes, he Levi made a gesture with his head and they moved the detained men over to their sedan. Patrol cars began arriving and he said, "Mason, read them their rights, even though Chad says he knows them."
Mason nodded in response as he reached into his back pocket for the Miranda warning card he always carried. Even though he knew the words by heart, the policy was to read of the card so no suspects could claim they didn't get read the full warning.
"Gentleman, You have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to have an attorney present during questioning, and if you can not afford an attorney one can be provided for you at no cost. Do you understand these rights as i have just read them to you," Mason said before looking up at the two men.
"Screw you," Chad spit out with feeling. "I don't recognize your authority over me."
"Yeah," Benny joined in, though with more of a sullen tone. "Under the Constitution, you have no right to detain or arrest us."
"Having been advised of your rights, do either of you wish to make a statement at this time," Mason asked before putting the card back in his pocket.
"I'll make a statement," Chad said bitterly. "Your mom sucked in bed. And I need a doctor. How about my human rights? Huh pig?"
"It's just a flesh wound, " Mason said with a roll of his eyes before he looked over at a uniformed deputy, "Call for medical to come look at Mr. Chad Hogan here. Put cousin Benny here in a separate unit here for now."
Levi recovered the weapon and placed it in an evidence bag and then looked about the property as he pulled out his phone and made a phone call, notifying the Sheriff directly about the situation.
Next he called requesting a warrant for the premises and grounds. As Mason made his way back over he pocketed his phone. "Should have the warrant in half an hour or less. Then the fun begins."
"Medics are checking out Chad right now. He'll have a nice scar to show off in lockup. Patrol is keeping the two separated for now," Mason offered before glancing towards the decrepit house. "Benny's going to be the one to break, long as his we keep his cousin away from him," he said again his accent coming through.
Levi pulled out his phone and began making notes for the timeline. "Keep them separated. Both are under arrest so we'll have to notify the hospital and detail deputies. I'll get that arranged. Benny, Chad and Shay just made this a whole let more complicated. Hopefully all of the pieces to the puzzle will fit."