Early Saturday: An arrested man is put into a police SUV for transport to Central Lockup. He’s handcuffed. A cagelike structure protects the officer driving from the suspect behind him.
But in the battle between police and criminals, anything can happen, and what happened next sounds like an over-the-top plot twist from a TV cop show. Houdini-like, the man got his cuffed hands from behind his back to the front of his body, got his body through the cage and into the front seat of the car.
He got hold of a gun. As I write this, it’s still not clear how he did that.
You know the rest of the story. Just hours before Father’s Day, New Orleans police Officer Daryle Holloway was shot by his prisoner.
“The heart and soul of New Orleans is heavy today,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu said after the slaying.
The full extent of Officer Holloway’s bravery didn’t become clear until Monday. According to police, the recording from his body camera showed that his prisoner, Travis Boys, gave Holloway an out.
Three times, according to police, Boys yelled, “Let me go before you kill yourself!”
But Holloway held on until he couldn’t hold on any longer. Boys got away and the police SUV crashed.
There’s no doubt that to put on a police uniform and report for work every day is an act of courage in itself.
But to hold on, as Holloway did even after he’d been shot, trying not to let his armed assailant get away, is an act of uncommon valor worthy of whatever posthumous honors that can be bestowed upon him.
Law enforcement agencies from around the area responded quickly to the attack on a brother-in-arms and helped in the search for Boys. A $10,000 reward offered by Crimestoppers of New Orleans was quickly upped to $20,000, thanks to employees of the New Orleans division of the U.S. Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Their determination paid off, and Boys was arrested the next day, Father’s Day.
Father’s Day — the first one that Holloway’s three teenage children were left without one.
Holloway, 45, was a St. Augustine High School alum. A typical New Orleanian, he loved food.
He’d put 22 years in at NOPD. At 25 years, he would have been eligible to retire and pursue a whole new career, if that was a tack that interested him.
But that option is in the past now. A bullet put it there.
The online reaction was sadly predictable. At least one online commenter asked where the Rev. Al Sharpton was. Another concluded that there would be no protest marches as there had been recently over the deaths of people at the hands of police officers.
The commenters, of course, were boorishly and intentionally blurring a crucial distinction. The protests in those other cases were against government actions, not the deeds of a single criminal.
If any protests were to crystallize around Holloway’s death, they would likely go in a direction those commenters wouldn’t like.
Maybe the protesters would demand tighter controls on gun purchases or better economic options as an alternative to a life of crime. They might seek substitutes for incarceration, so that a young person who committed a petty crime might not be exposed to more hardened criminals in jail, setting them along the wrong life path.
But the worst part of comments like those is the implicit racist assumption that black people don’t care if a black cop is killed.
The community reaction to Officer Holloway’s slaying shows that assumption couldn’t be further from the truth.
Dennis Persica’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.