The Message

By Brett Redmayne-Titley

Part 3 of 5

Read Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

After crawling about the back yard, including both sides of the house, I had all avenues down pat. So, when the north side gate crashed open immediately followed by multiple swirls of piercing white flashlights spot beams, I knew my flowery hide-out was about to be tested.

“He’s not in the house”, said a third cop, joining the two in the center of the back yard lawn, spot beams going in all directions. Enveloped in the surrounding black night I could not easily see these black wraiths from my dark cave, except for the lights flashing off their clear plastic face shields.

With nowhere to go all three circled about confusingly flashing their lights around the yard, walking ever closer to my bush. Five feet away one beam crossed directly over my face and I could clearly see the cops face shield look right at me through the space in the big green leaves surrounding the contradictory yellow flowers. I was done for. The words, “don’t shoot. I’m coming out” were in my throat, about to reach my lips in surrender. Suddenly the cop turned, stepped a few paces away. “Not here I guess. Check that shed before you leave.” How they did not hear my hammering heart beat seemed impossible.

So with that the cops, nice enough to slam the gate on the way out, were gone.

Just now barely 6:00 PM, the past four hours were a blur. Sitting in the first dark of the evening with the remaining warmth of the cinder block wall massaging my back in the quiet of my little sanctuary, it was time to relax.Finally checking my thoughts, reflection was now in order. Today was a new kind of adrenaline. A chemical rush that passed, electric, up the spinal cord, tingling the fingers, quickening the breath, thundering the heart, and warming the gut despite the cold.

On the tongue, an acrid taste? Bitter, unpleasant, dry. Fear? No. Couldn’t be. Admit it. But… this other feeling, behind the throbbing of the temples, a small place, sharp, almost painful. Curiosity? No. More than that.

Arms folded across my knees, sitting under this yellow-flowered haven, I knew that feeling. I’d felt it before. The intrigue of horror. A horror effective only when hidden. The need to balance that equation. To do so required confronting that horror. Seeing its face. Being near it. This, here and now, was the correct, no, the right place to be. This was, as Hearst said, not a duty: this was an obligation. Bad shit was going to go to go down tonight. Only fate had cast me here to bear witness. To see…to watch…to report. All of this.

Oh, America. From “Greatest Generation,” to the burning of Rome in a mere sixty odd years. The American Dream unfolding before me now was the exact tyrannical condition the once vaunted, now emasculated, US Constitution was designed to stop. This monstrous police task force was not here for justice. Due process? Rule of law? Civil rights? Those were the fictitious realm of those without power. Those with power. They used power. Their power. This power.

In the dark calm before the coming military storm it was easy to conjure up examples of America’s extrajudicial police state. Five hundred-and-more innocent Americans summarily executed by police in 2013. Examples came to mind posthumously.

Thirteen year old Andy Lopez. Shot four times for holding a toy replica AK-47. He did not point it at the cops. Witnesses. Santa Rosa, CA . No charges.

Chavis Carter shot in the head while handcuffed in the back seat of a Jonesboro, AR patrol car. No gun residue on his hands? Ruled a suicide. Right. No charges.

Manual Diaz shot in the back of the head while running away. Anaheim, CA. No charges.

The next night, same city. Joel Acevedo shot in the back of the head while hand cuffed. Anaheim, CA. One witness. No charges.

When on the third night the families went to City Hall to peacefully protest, the Anaheim PD beat them up and set dogs on them. Men, women, children and the elderly.

Before two Fullerton, CA officers of the law smashed in Kelly Thomas’ face, officer Manual Ramos, while menacingly putting on a pair of police issued latex gloves, taunted his seated, frightened, and soon-to-be-dead victim.

“Now, you see these fists?!”, he sneered at the scared and innocent Kelly Thomas. “They’re getting ready to fuck you up!”

So Ramos and his understudy, Jay Cicinelli, police officers sworn to protect Kelly Thomas, beat him mercilessly for over fifteen minutes while he screamed for mercy. Screamed for his father. Screamed for air. Screamed for a miracle. Screamed!!

Then Officer Cicinelli, having already used his tazer on Kelly Thomas three times, found a new use for his empty weapon.

Using the butt of his otherwise useless Tazer, he smashed in Kelly Thomas’ face.

In front of witnesses. In front of a video camera.

Both officers acquitted. All charges.

These irrational, inhuman criminal exonerations of obviously and visually guilty cops were of course the precedent that set the stage for the manipulated legal results of the similar police executions of Eric Garner in New York City and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Even want-to-be cops like lowly security guard, George Zimmerman, who now awaits trial for a subsequent assault, can kill young Americans like Trayvon Martin knowing in advance that, they too, will get away with it. Any protest in favor of the victim or justice is put down with a disproportionate show of force. The decisions and military style results in all these cases was not a message to the victim who died, it is a message to all who did bare-witness to the crime: “you could be next!”

Right now, that message was being broadcast far-and-wide: loud-and-clear.

The scores of amped-up cops present strongly indicated that tonight’s episode was equally rigged for the same outcome. Evan Kwik escaping a similar fate was long odds indeed. Evan Kwik had fucked with the cops. This Roman circus demanded a sacrifice. For Evan Kwik, handcuffs were not part of tonight’s script.

All these sad stories of police horror had a common, very deliberate theme, and tragic end. The lead actors, like Evan Kwik, were not criminals, and they were not victims. They were not just innocent citizens and they were not without guilt. Drawn into their own life’s tragedy, their value was not by happen, stance. Their role was much bigger.

Combining local media reports and my observations, the total militia surrounding Evan Kwik amounted to over one-hundred-and-forty-five well armed police, forty-three police cruisers or unmarked vehicles, five ambulances, five MRAP’s, over one dozen barricades, three helicopters, eight fire engines, four paramedic vehicles, hundreds of emergency flares, leagues of yellow police tape, a fifty cal. machine gun, and one drone. All for one scared junkie with a shotgun who is likely out of ammunition, while stuck in a dark three-foot high attic, really, really, really…… wanting to go home.

John Dillinger, or a team of well-trained Al Qaeda, could not have shot their way to freedom. The cops all pointed their weapons from all directions at the epicenter of their message tonight; Evan Kwik.

The local nonstop TV and radio news coverage across San Diego, Orange, Riverside, and LA counties times four networks had millions of So. Cal citizens watching tonight’s episode intently. Of course CNN and FOX and MSNBC were keeping the nation watching, too. The intent of the message being national.

No. Evan Kwik was not in that attic, surrounded on all sides, four layers deep, to be punished. Much less arrested. He was there in a cameo performance showcasing the rising forces of American domestic terror for all to see, nationally, far and wide: America’s new social condition. Due process was no longer the privy of the accused. You mess with the man and he is going to put on his latex gloves and, “fuck you up!”

Read, now, between the lines of tonight’s bitter message. The part not mentioned. The truth everyone who is watching knows. The coming moment of which noone will say. The final reality every viewer, news anchor, and all one hundred-and-forty-five cops already know. The reality is that tonight, here in the calm peacefulness of my rapidly chilling lair, I too already know how tonight will end. I understand the message. I have seen it before. Evan Kwik has already been sentenced. No conviction required. No.Tonight Evan Kwik was going to……

“Mother Fucker?!”, I shout through a deafening explosion. Rolling from under my bush I jump to my feet, ground still shaking, and rise up under a sky as light as day. Above the Kwik house shining star pieces, bright phosphorus white, are falling back to earth into plumes of gray smoke, the epicenter of the blast.

“BOOOOMMM!!!” was the report from a second concussion grenade, new molten projectiles now joining the previous brilliant, smoky results. This new blast unblocked by the block wall, made my ears ring for minutes. As the final pieces cascaded over the lawn and roof of the house, falling parachute like from the sky, the cops were moving again. Fast.

I checked my cell phone for the time. 8:10 PM. There was noise everywhere as hard-to-see cops flashed passed me as if spirits off on their mission. Under cover of confusion I moved the twenty feet to the two big bushes and my vantage point on the South wall. Ten feet away five cops were staring down the barrels of various weapons at the proceedings in front of them.

Three feet above and ten feet behind them, so was I.

The MRAP with the 50 cal. in the Kwik driveway suddenly roared to life and sharply pulled out backwards, next moving fifty feet uphill giving room for a new specialized MRAP baring two huge megaphones on top, to pull in. As it did so, cops moved quickly all around the house locked and loaded, ready to do their duty. Then the first MRAP backed up again, turret gunner covering the front door. Just in case. Every cop was drawn-down targeting the front of the house which you could see quite well since the MRAP had crushed the fence to splinters.

“Evan Kwik! This is the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department. Exit the house with your hands raised,” came a blast of sound so loud it rivaled the first two stun grenades for pretension. One would’ve thought that all the local citizenry, barricaded safely away at a distance, would’ve heard this announcement. But no. No witnesses, and no visual or audio evidence either.

The helicopter was making sure of that.

For the past few hours I had been venturing from my flowery lair on hands and knees to my handy vantage points. It was dark, but the lights inside the house were still casting very large visible rectangular patches of light on the dark of the backyard lawn. Navigating this like a field of landmines, I had to dive for cover several times when the chopper whirled by every two minutes and twenty seconds, again and again, and again, and again. It was always traveling at too high of a speed to be doing surveillance and stayed barely one hundred feet up. Always it stayed just at the perimeter of the four block crime scene area, barely over the heads of all the neighbors waiting and watching at the blocked-off perimeter. The witnesses.

It took a while to mull this over, but I had plenty of time. I finally realized why the chopper was there. Cover. White noise. As it went around and around the thundering sound of its rotor blades filled the cold night air making it impossible to hear from a distance.

“Evan Kwik! This is the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department. Exit the house with your hands raised,” came the wall of sound again. Approximately a minute later the message was repeated a third, and last, time.


Now the mega-phoned MRAP backed up from the driveway and moved to a new spot, making room for new participants.

The strange MRAP with the six olive drab troops that had been basking, unmoving, under glowing green LEDs, suddenly slammed its metal doors shut, the engine starting up. In one sudden move the MRAP accelerated violently, slammed itself into the Kwik driveway, shuddering to an abrupt stop. Sitting still for a moment, engine running, as if contemplating its next move the MRAP began moving ever so slowly, bulling its way down the south side of the house making a horrible sound of breaking timbers as it filled the side yard. It finally came to a stop with the house attic vent over the center of the MRAP.

Then the engine stopped. The huge metal rear doors clanged open. The Kill Team exited in a rush, and disappearing from sight.

Evan Kwik’s Fourth Amendment guarantees would become void in three minutes, forty seconds.

9:42 PM: I cannot see the green clad troops for a few minutes. Suddenly one climbs up using the rear of the MRAP to get onto its roof. He disappears out of sight. You can hear his boots drumming on the heavy gauge metal as he marches about the roof of the MRAP.

9:43 PM: Everywhere I look cops point weapons. The air is as cold as the faces of all those I can see. All the hours have come to this. Something is about to happen, damn sure. The cops know it. I know it. The sound of my breath is too loud. I want my heartbeat to stop. Want to hear every sound, let my ears do their best to fill-in what my eyes cannot.

9:44 PM: A strange lingering silence. Boots on the MRAP roof again. Can’t see. Sounds like… ? What?


Four distinct blasts in exact sequence, the time between each shot perfect. I know that sound. I’ve heard it many times. Shotgun blasts. Big ones.

Now silence. A minute…….Two. Three.


Guns everywhere are now dropping. Side-arms replaced in holsters. Cops talking quietly into lapel microphones. Muttered quiet. Now, talking. Audible for the first time. Cops move into groups. Greetings. Handshakes.

The cops in front of me put their shotguns down on the front seat.

9:54 PM: Evan Kwik is dead.

Stay tuned to to read part 4!

Read Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

About the Author:

Brett Redmayne-Titley is a regular columnist for Press and former writer and editor for the progressive news-site, Op-Ed My articles on domestic and foreign policy issues have been re-published by dozens of news-sites including; Fars News Network; Veterans Today; Asia Times and Cairo Times.