At first I thought, “Do I have a sign on me that says ‘GUILTY’?” Then it occurred to me that I must simply look suspicious to every law enforcement officer in the area.
It was the second time in a week for being questioned by cops while I was minding my business. The first time was as I was walking around the block in my neighborhood and now as I sat in my truck waiting for a friend to finish with her appointment.
The guy on the bicycle rode by me and I nodded at him as he said hello. Seconds later three police vehicles with lights on came speeding down the street and cut him off as he started to cross the street in front of me.
Since my windows were down I couldn’t help but hear the exchange between the first two female officers and the cyclist. They demanded he step away from the bike and sit on the sidewalk in front of their vehicle.
Soon, there were five officers gathered around the now handcuffed guy. I laid my seat back as far as I could and closed my eyes and jus’ listened.
A command sergeant was one of the original vehicles to pull up on the scene. He soon left, leaving three female officers and one male officer behind.
Within minutes, they uncuffed the guy and let him go. I could tell he was happy to be getting away from the situation he had been in.
A moment later, they ordered me out of my truck, instructing me to put both hands on the hood. Taken by surprise I did the smart thing and complied.
That’s when it dawned on me, I had a bicycle in the bed of my truck, place there earlier by a friend of my friend, who had been kind enough to patch one of the bike’s tires. Duh!
They peppered me with questions: Who are you? What are you doing here? Why do you have a bicycle in the bed of your truck? Is it your bike? After the first question I finally said, “If I’m being arrested, I want to speak to a lawyer before you continue questioning me.”
Finally, the male cop went over and pulled the bike from the bed and turned it upside down. He pulled a note pad from his pocket and checked a series of numbers against the serial number embossed on the bike frame, declaring, “It’s not the one.”
“Thank you for your time,” one of the women said as they started back towards their squad cars.
A second one then admonished me: “Next time jus’ answer our questions and it’ll go easier for you.”
I decided to jus’ keep my mouth shut as they pow-wowed for a few minutes before heading back to the nearby campus.
The entire situation left me rattled for the rest of the morning as every time I saw a squad car from then on, I felt my heart jump and my mouth go dry. It’s horrible that I should feel so fearful of the law enforcement community as a private, law-abiding citizen.