Units raced to the intersection.220 Undercover vice squad officers were the first to join the Car 139 cops.221 Four minutes later, patrolmen on foot saw a suspect in the alley connecting the back of Domino’s to the back of the nursing home (between Points 6 and 5). He “just left the nursing home here, just south of McArdle heading north,” came one urgent call.222
Other sighting reports followed in quick succession: “He jumped the fence heading towards McArdle.”223 “On Kostoryz and McArdle, near the nursing home, [we] got a suspect just jumped the fence to the rear, with an officer on foot.”224 After being cut off at the Domino’s, the suspect seemed to be doubling back towards the nursing home and possibly trying to cross McArdle to the Circle K. Police thought they were closing in.
Three minutes after Mejia’s last BOLO,225 and twenty-two minutes after Wanda screamed, the dispatcher called every available unit to the area around Kostoryz and McArdle between the “nursing home” (Point 5) and “Domino’s” Pizza (Point 6).226 Seconds later, an urgent call for emergency assistance came in from the area,227 followed by a signal requiring the channel to be kept clear of all traffic unrelated to the emergency.228
Frantic calls went out from the dispatcher to the cops swarming dark alleys looking for an armed suspect to “be advised we do have several vice units in the area, plain-clothes.”229 For two minutes, the dispatcher desperately tried to regain contact with officers in Car 155, who had been among the first responders at each step of the chase and had suddenly gone silent.230
Call piled on top of call, one every few seconds at the peak.231 Where they overlap on the tape, some are hard to hear. One sounds like, “Too far. He got away.”232 In the confusion, one event took steam out of the McArdle-Kostoryz search, then another event brought it to a halt.
The first event was Julie Arsuaga’s insistent description of the man she saw jogging past the Phase III nightclub, which prompted Mejia to broadcast Julie’s stream of grooming details about the man she saw.233 After Escochea got Fowler’s report of a 5 foot 9 Hispanic male loitering at the Circle K earlier that evening with a light sweatshirt, beard and moustache who said he was looking for a ride, and after realizing it “sounds like the description the chick was trying to give me on the phone,” the dispatcher pressed Mejia for a better description of the Sigmor suspect’s face.234
On the tape, Mejia can be heard talking to the witnesses, with a female voice prominent in the background.235 Then, instead of Baker’s description of the mustachioed man with a couple weeks of whiskers who sprinted away to the north, Mejia gave Julie’s description of the “clean shaven” man she saw jogging east of the station past the Phase III.236 Soon thereafter came Mejia’s final BOLO, complete with the facial-hair details from Julie Arsuaga.237
The urgency drained from dispatcher Escochea’s voice. Clearly, the clean-shaven man at the gas station that Mejia was describing was not the mustachioed and unshaven man Officer Fowler had questioned earlier that evening at the Circle K.238 Reverting to his usual monotone, Escochea repeated the new information. “Ok. You got that he’s clean shaven?”239
What abruptly ended the McArdle-Kostoryz search, however, was the onset of a third burst of radio traffic. It came from a dilapidated residential area way back to the west on Nemec, Easter, and Franklin Streets behind the Phase III and Lebowitz Furniture, a few blocks from the Sigmor.
The radio traffic began with a 911 call from neighborhood resident Theresa Barrera240 at 8:39 p.m., just three minutes after officers had chased the suspect over the fence behind the nursing home near McArdle and Kostoryz, and seven minutes after Mejia’s final BOLO. The 911 operator transferred Barrera to Escochea, whose dispatch tape recorded their conversation:
Barrera: Hey, there’s a guy . . . there’s police going up and down Nemec and Easter Street, you know what I’m talking about?
Escochea: Yes ma’am, we had an armed robbery in the area.
Escochea: We had an armed robbery in the area, they’re checking for the armed robber.
Barrera: Yeah, there’s a guy hiding under my truck.
Barrera: I live on Easter Street, 4–9–4–9 Easter Street.
Escochea: 49, 49.
Barrera: Get that [inaudible], get it on 49 Easter. He’s hiding under the [inaudible] truck. [And then, almost immediately:] He just got up and ran on Easter Street.
Escochea: Which way did he run, ma’am?
Barrera: He ran down Nemec Street toward Gabriel and Franklin.241
Mark Schauer, Corpus Christi Police Officer, Pretrial Test., Texas v. DeLuna, No. 83-CR–194-A (Nueces Cty., 28th Dist. Tex. June 20, 1983) at 105 (testifying that after driving around the area “around Dod[d]” and McArdle, “[s]ome other units had seen something down McArdle and I proceeded down that way”);
Mark Schauer, Corpus Christi Police Officer, Trial Test., Texas v. DeLuna, No. 83-CR–194-A (Nueces Cty., 28th Dist. Tex. July 15, 1983) at 114 (after the “officer called out that he had seen something . . . over at McArdle and Kostoryz, there [were] a lot of units going over there, so there were units all over this area.”).
Police Dispatch Tape, Corpus Christi Police Dep’t (Feb. 4, 1983) at 8:35:37 (tape at 00:26:56) (“You’ve got two plain-clothes officers out there.”); id. at 8:35:43 (tape at 00:27:02) (“They were out there with 139.”). The Police Dispatch Tape Tape identifies fifteen cars that went to the area near the intersection of McArdle Road and Kostoryz Street, in order of arrival in that area: 139, id. at 8:27:38 (tape at 00:18:57) (on foot; “39.”); 113, id. at 8:27:39–8:27:478 (tape at 00:18:58–00:19:07) (“113”; “Need you to come on in, take it around. 3131 McArdle”; “113.”); 143, id. at 8:30:46–8:30:48 (tape at 00:22:05–00:22:07) (“43”; “43”); 403, id. at 8:31:15 (tape at 00:22:34) (vice; on foot; “403.”); 121, id. at 8:31:49–8:31:59 (tape at 00:23:08–23:18) (on foot; “Are you right there, 21-A?”; “21.”; “Ok, 21, we just needed somebody else out there with 39.”); 116, id at 00:8:31:59) (tape at 00:23:18) (“16.”); 123, id. at 8:31:59 (tape at 00:23:18) (“123 . . .”); 415, id at 8:32:45–8:32:48 (tape at 00:24:04–00:24:07) (vice; on foot; “415.”; “415.”); 140, id at 8:35:18–8:35:21 (tape at 00:26:37, 00:26:40) (“140.”; “140.”); 145, id at 8:35:21 (tape at 00:26:40) (“145 . . .”); 141, id at 8:35:21 (tape at 00:26:40) (“141.”); 408, id at 8:35:29 (tape at 00:26:48) (vice; “408.”); 126, id at 00:8:35:35 (tape at 00:26:54) (“126, 47.”); 219, id at 8:37:15 (tape at 00:28:34) (“219.”); 155, id at 8:38:11–8:38:15 (tape at 00:29:30–29:41) (on foot; “55.”; “55, go ahead.”; “You have a suspect in custody or what?”).
Police Dispatch Tape, Corpus Christi Police Dep’t (Feb. 4, 1983) at 8:34:41 (tape at 00:26:00) (“just left the nursing home here, just south of McArdle, heading north”);
see Ruben Rivera, Nueces County Deputy Constable, Trial Test., Texas v. DeLuna, No. 83-CR–194-A (Nueces Cty., 28th Dist. Tex. July 15, 1983) at 97–100 (“[T]here was a report that the subject had been seen in this nursing area next to the ballpark over here [on McArdle] and we took part in that little search there”; the “nursing home [is] way up towards Kostoryz”).
Police Dispatch Tape, Corpus Christi Police Dep’t (Feb. 4, 1983) at 8:34:59 (tape at 00:26:18) (“[O]n Kostoryz and McArdle, near the nursing home, got a suspect just jumped the fence to the rear, with an officer on foot . . . .”);
see Police Dispatch Tape, Corpus Christi Police Dep’t (Feb. 4, 1983) at 8:35:01 (tape at 00:26:20) (“Kostoryz and McArdle by the nursing home northbound going towards McArdle.”).
Police Dispatch Tape, Corpus Christi Police Dep’t (Feb. 4, 1983) at 8:32:09 (tape at 00:23:28) (“A Hispanic male, 5–9, with flannel shirt, possibly a gray sweatshirt. It may possibly be a white T-shirt, also, long-sleeves. Clean shaven, medium, wavy, ear-length hair.”).
Police Dispatch Tape, Corpus Christi Police Dep’t (Feb. 4, 1983) at 8:35:24 (tape at 00:26:43) (“Ok. I’ll get what all is on 2 out there and Zone 5 there, all out there”; Channel 2 refers to the channel used jointly by all law enforcement agencies in the area, not just the Corpus Christi Police Department; Zone 5 is the 5:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. shift);
see order of arrival of cars, supra note 221.
Police Dispatch Tape, Corpus Christi Police Dep’t (Feb. 4, 1983) at 8:36:07 (tape at 00:27:26) (broadcasting a code “19”; a call for emergency assistance); see Police Dispatch Tape, Corpus Christi Police Dep’t (Feb. 4, 1983) at 8:36:34 (tape at 00:27:53) (“Kostoryz and McArdle is all we know, that could be the nursing home, Domino’s.”).
Police Dispatch Tape, Corpus Christi Police Dep’t (Feb. 4, 1983) at 8:35:37 (tape at 00:26:56), 8:35:43 (tape at 00:27:02), 8:35:46 (tape at 00:27:05) (“You’ve got two plain-clothes officers out there.”; “They were out there with 139.”; “All officers in the area of Kostoryz and McArdle, be advised we do have several vice units in the area, plain-clothes. 415[a vice unit] . . .”).
Police Dispatch Tape, Corpus Christi Police Dep’t (Feb. 4, 1983) at 8:36:15 (tape at 00:27:34), 8:36:49 (tape at 28:08), 8:36:58 (tape at 00:28:17), 8:37:07 (tape at 00:28:26), 8:37:08 (tape at 00:28:28), 8:37:56 (tape at 00:29:15), 8:38:01 (tape at 00:29:20), 8:38:11 (tape at 00:29:30), 8:38:13 (tape at 00:29:32) (“55.”; “155.”; “Is 55 in pursuit of a suspect in that area, Kostoryz and McArdle? No other information.”; “Which way?”; “I don’t know, I can’t raise them.”; “See if you can raise that unit again.”; “155.”; “55.”; “55, go ahead.”).
Between about 8:25 and 8:31 (tape at 00:16:30–00:22:30), there were 124 calls over 360 seconds, including the traffic stop on McArdle, Fowler’s information about the Circle K, a man seen running at 3131 McArdle, and the chase behind Domino’s. In the minute and one-half after the man jumped the fence behind the nursing home at around 8:35 (tape at 00:25:56–00:27:34), there were 30 calls over 98 seconds.
See supra notes 209–214 and accompanying text.
See supra note 168.
See supra note 173–177 and accompanying text.
Police Dispatch Tape, Corpus Christi Police Dep’t (Feb. 4, 1983) at 8:28:38–8:29:50 (tape at 00:19:57–00:21:18):
Dispatcher: 134 [referring to Office Fowler], you said there was a suspect at the Circle K . . . . What was his description?
Fowler: Hispanic male, about 5 foot 9, white T-shirt or heavy T-shirt, almost a sweatshirt-type. White pants. Beard and mustache.
Dispatcher: Ok, sounds like the description the clerk was trying to give me on the phone. She said he was out there trying to bum a ride, armed with a knife. Possibly could be the same one.
Fowler: [Inaudible.] I didn’t [inaudible]. He advised me he had [inaudible] and he was waiting for a taxi for the ride home.
Dispatcher: Stand by, 134. 127-A [referring to Sgt. Mejia].
Overlapping voices as Mejia talks to the witnesses: 127A [Inaudible] has a hat on, clean shaven or what?
Dispatcher: Do you have a better description? Can you give us a better description?
Mejia: Negative. We got some people down at [inaudible] a white shirt, possibly a white shirt.
Dispatcher: Ok, sounds like the same guy that 134 was looking at earlier. Do you have a description of his face?
Dispatcher: Ok. You got that he’s clean-shaven?
Police Dispatch Tape, Corpus Christi Police Dep’t (Feb. 4, 1983) at 8:41:21 (tape at 00:32:40–00:32:52) (“I went outside to see the cops going up and down our street. My little boy and I walked outside, I turned the light on and there’s this guy down underneath my truck. Oh, my god.”).
Police Dispatch Tape, Corpus Christi Police Dep’t (Feb. 4, 1983) at 8:40:22–8:40:55 (tape at 00:31:41–00:32:14); see also Police Dispatch Tape, Corpus Christi Police Dep’t (Feb. 4, 1983) at 8:41:06 (tape at 00:32:25), 8:41:15 (tape at 00:32:34), 8:41:38 (tape at 00:32:57) (“I think he ran down Nemec Street, toward [inaudible]”; “Down Franklin Street.”; “I think he ran down Nemec, away from Easter, toward Gabriel. Ok? You get it?”).