CopShock: Second Edition
Surviving Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

by Allen R. Kates, MFAW, BCECR


Chapter 1:  Assaults (continued)



"This is dangerous. Please get onto the train."

He did not respond, appearing to study her as if he hadn't made up his mind what she was. He wasn't very big, and he was short, an inch or two over five feet. Christine wasn't very big either, but she knew she could handle him if it came to that. Able to lift her own weight, she assumed he would be easy to subdue and drag in.

She stepped onto the catwalk. Immediately, she sensed something wrong. His cold stare was predatory. As if on the hunt, he was searching for an advantage.

Drawing the baton from her utility belt and tucking it under her arm, she slid a couple of steps closer to him on the catwalk.

"Sir, get on the train."

He pushed her hard, knocking her off balance. Her hat flew off.

"You're under arrest," she said, "for attempting to assault a police officer. Turn around and put your hands up."

Bending toward the train, he pressed his hands against the car's window. Christine's heavy winter coat and bulky utility belt prevented her from getting behind him in the narrow width of the catwalk. She thought, It'll be okay. He's cooperating.

She was clamping a cuff on his left wrist when he twisted toward her, folding his left arm around her head. He grabbed her by the hair, yanking her head back. His other hand skated down the left side of her face, a shiny object between his fingertips. The object slashed a path from the tip of her scalp, down behind her ear, across her neck, severing veins, nerves and muscles.

Christine felt the pressure of the object against her throat, then an immediate tingling and sharpness. Touching her neck, her hand came away bloody.

"You son-of-a-bitch!" she cried.

Dropping the cuffs, she drew the baton and bashed him twice, once on the neck, then on the head. The next time she hit him, the stick bounced off and flew onto the tracks.

Issued by the academy, her nightstick proved to be an ineffective weapon. According to Christine, it was about as hard as rolled up gift wrapping paper.

Rather than deterring the man, Christine's defense enraged him. Lunging at her face, he tried to slash the other side of her throat. When she dipped back to dodge the attack, she saw in his eyes a feral bewilderment.

He went wild, hacking at her coat and vest. The vest prevented him from puncturing her heart and lungs. But he managed to slice through the arms of her coat, gashing her arms and shoulders. Throwing up her hands to block his renewed advance, he focused his anger on the soft tissue of her palms, flailing and cutting.

Despite her wounds and the shock of the assault, Christine backed up to draw her service revolver. The more she retreated, the more he went after her.

Defending herself with one hand, she closed the bleeding fingers of her other hand around the gun butt and tried to pull the gun from the holster. Her gun would not let go. It was stuck.

Her holster had a specially constructed notch that served as a safety mechanism. Too many people had stolen officers' guns from their holsters during fights, and the notch was designed to prevent suspects from getting the weapons. The notched holster required an officer not to pull up on the gun so much as twist it out. Only the maneuver required space to twist the weapon out, something she didn't have. To get it out, she'd have to use both hands, possibly a fatal course of action.

Her thoughts racing, she went for a spare gun, an off-duty five-shot in a shoulder holster under her left armpit. It wasn't there. During the struggle, the holster and harness had twisted around her back. The gun was behind her, unreachable, humped under her uniform jacket and heavy coat.

As the man pressed his attack, Christine felt a sticky wetness down her uniform. Light-headed, losing blood, she grabbed at the concrete wall. Her hand fell on a rusted metal handrail. What drew her attention, and remains a recurring memory today, was the image of her own blood blackening the painted, yellow, rotted steel.

With unexpected strength, she wrenched the handrail from the wall and thrust it at him. Now she was on the attack. Still trying to retrieve the spare gun with her right hand, she swung the four-foot pole from side to side with the other hand to keep him at bay.

She struck the wall, then the side of the train, missing the man, yet driving him back. The next blow made contact, bludgeoning him on the neck and the shoulder. She clubbed him again in the neck. Jerking the pole back to gain momentum, she struck the train car, snapping the shaft in half.

Taking advantage of the sudden shift in the struggle, her assailant scooped up the broken half of the handrail and hammered her in the shoulder and hands.

As long as he isn't cutting me, she thought, I can try again for the gun.

Using both hands as he pummeled her, she finally freed her service revolver from the holster. But then he turned around and walked away, toward the rear of the train.

"Police, don't move!" she shouted, pointing her gun at his back. He didn't stop.

She could have shot him. But a New York cop could only shoot a fleeing felon if he posed further threat. She regrets she didn't fire. Shooting might have given her some measure of control. Shooting might have prevented her from seeing herself in the months and years to come as a victim.

Not aware how badly she was hurt, Christine followed him toward the back of the train. She called the central dispatcher again. The radio was useless.

Her heart pounding, she tasted what she thought was copper in her mouth. She watched the man jump down onto the train tracks and cross to the other side, heading toward the 59th and Lexington subway station, from where she came.

Her feet, hands and head tingled. She couldn't open or close her hands nor raise her arms. Aware she was weakening, Christine accepted that the battle was over.

She staggered to the open door of the train car. She told me she thought the man, the fight and what happened next were all a dream, and she could only remember fragments of the dream.

Fragments like...

Calling on the radio, "1013, 1013, officer down." The radio dead.

Floating into the car.

Faces of people screaming.

Blood dripping down clothes.

Bloody bootprints on the floor.

The radio suddenly working. Shhhhhhhh...

In the dream, a woman orders people off a seat and says, "Lay down, officer."

Faces appear before her like apparitions. Hands press a scarf against the wounds. A man plays with the dial of her microphone.

"I'm a passenger on the train. We have an officer that is slashed, and she's in real bad shape. She's starting to pass out."

Christine describes the attacker, what direction he was going in. The man repeats what she says. A woman's face bends down into the helpers trying to stop the bleeding and says, "Why are you helping her? She's gonna die anyway."

To her horror, Christine realizes the train is not moving. It's sitting in the dark tunnel like a dug-in beetle afraid of the light. Five minutes or five hours pass. She thinks she's dying. The motorman won't budge. He is afraid the suspect is still on the tracks. He might run him over.

After an eternity, the train inches forward into the next station.

It was all a dream, wasn't it?

All rights reserved. Copyright © 2008, 2022 by Allen R. Kates

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