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Investigation Into the Velazquez Shooting, Part 2

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INTERVIEW WITH JOHN DOE (10/28/19)


CR = Det. Cameron Raeber
PT = Det. Patrick Tinelli
JD = John Doe
SW = Ofc. Steve Wilkins (over intercom)
* = unknown spelling

CR: Have a seat.

JD: Thank you.

CR: First of all, if we take these things off you are you gonna cooperate?

JD: Yes.

CR: Good.

[7.5 SEC PAUSE, CLICK OF HANDCUFFS]

CR: Bit more comfortable?

JD: Yes. Thank you.

CR: No problem. We can’t keep callin’ you John Doe. What’s your name?

JD: (2.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

CR: Come again?

JD: (4.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

CR: Yes, it does. How do you spell that?

JD: (5.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

CR: Okay. Um, what alphabet do you normally use?

JD: (4.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

CR: Okay, uh, Yuvirikoi* Mwa-al* Yang* Kishlau* - you know what? I think I can keep callin’ you John Doe. You okay with that?

JD: Yes.

CR: While we’re at it, I’m Detective Cameron Raeber and this is Detective Patrick Tinelli. We’d like to ask you some questions.

JD: Okay.

CR: And before we begin - I know you were told all this when you were arrested, but we gotta go through it again just to make sure. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say may be used against you in court. You have the right to the presence of an attorney before or during questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided free of charge if you want one. Do you understand your rights?

JD: Yes.

CR: And are you willing to answer our questions?

JD: Yes.

CR: And are you okay with this conversation being recorded?

JD: Yes.

PT: And you know Taylor Swift is alive and well, right?

JD: Good.

PT: It’s just you were wearin’ a T-shirt that sort of implied the opposite.

JD: (4.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

CR: (1.0 SEC LAUGH) Strictly speakin’, that would explain it.

JD: (3.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

PT: I wish you’d said something sooner. I spent the whole weekend tryin’ to get hold of her security detail and they finally said they’d never heard of you.

JD: Sorry.

CR: I guess the first question - we’ve actually been puttin’ off questioning you the last few days. You seemed too - I guess “despondent” is the right word.

JD: (1.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

CR: Uh-huh. How about now? How are you feeling right now?

JD: (2.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

CR: Resigned to what?

JD: (1.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

CR: Of course you’re gonna leave at some point. This isn’t even prison. It’s just holding.

PT: Yeah. Depending on what the DA decides, we might just drop you off at the a homeless shelter. Which’ll still be better than sleeping on the street.

CR: And the food’ll be much better than cold baked beans right outta the can. Speakin’ of which, can we get you anything? You haven’t eaten in days. You must be starvin’.

JD: (1.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

CR: Sure. But the point is, they’ll be able to help you better than we can.

JD: (6.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

CR: Well, you might be safer here then. They’d be pretty dumb to come after you in here.

JD: (7.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

CR: Yes.

JD: (3.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

CR: No, we have not.

PT: We take confidentiality pretty seriously here.

JD: Good. (3.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

CR: Well now, that’s another thing we can’t do. But here’s the thing. If you cooperate with us, when we let you all that stuff we took off you - the coat and the bag and everything - all that stuff’ll be returned to you when you leave. And our offices have shredders in them - the good kind that do diagonal cuts so nobody can go through and tape it back together. I’m sure nobody’ll mind if you stop by one of ‘em on the way out the door.

JD: (1.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

CR: Normally I’d be askin’ some follow-up questions on the subject - like why you were protecting that stuff and now you want it destroyed - but I got a hunch that the answers wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense without context. So let’s start right at the beginning. Where are you from?

JD: (2.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

CR: Try me.

JD: (6.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

CR: Hoss-nye*. Kah-oh-klah*. You’re right. Doesn’t ring any bells.

JD: (1.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE) Texas.

CR: East Texas? Why didn’t you just say so, man? I’m from East Texas. Did you grow up there?

JD: No. (3.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

CR: Like gypsies, huh?

PT: I think you’re supposed to call ‘em Roma now.

CR: Anyway, that does kinda make sense. I mean, it’s pretty obvious you know how to live on the street. The foods you chose - they’re the sort of stuff you’d eat if you were tryin’ to stay active and well-nourished and you were past caring what anything tasted like. Am I right?

JD: Yes.

PT: I don’t know. I like trail mix.

CR: Yeah, trail mix is good. But the important thing is it’s a lot of energy in a small package. And of course the fact that you were carryin’ around a can opener is kind of a giveaway.

JD: (2.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

[1.0 SEC PAUSE]

CR: So - your people. You got any family?

JD: (1.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

CR: Where do they live?

JD: (10.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

CR: Okay. Uh, is there anyone livin’ anywhere closer than, uh, Gwambar* or Akshania*?

JD: No.

CR: So, two sons. What about their mother?

JD: (2.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

CR: I’m sorry to hear that. How did it happen?

JD: (1.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

CR: Man, that’s - that’s bad. I’m sorry.

[2.0 SEC PAUSE]

I have another question. You say you’re from East Texas - or from a place we should think of as East Texas, whatever that means. Where did you learn to speak Spanish?

JD: (1.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

CR: Well, now, here’s the thing. Officer Ibañez - the man who brought you in - he grew up in Guatemala. He said you speak Spanish like a native. Specifically, like a Guatemalan native. Which - well, I am a detective. That is sort of a clue as to where you might really be from. I mean, obviously your English is every bit as good - in fact, you sound a little like you really are from East Texas.

JD: (2.0 SEC LAUGH) (UNKNOWN LANGUAGE 9.5 SEC) English.

CR: Well, of course we can do that.

JD: (6.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

CR: What sort of demonstration?

JD: (4.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

CR: Okay, but what does it involve?

JD: (6.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

CR: Okay.

PT. We’ll try.

[1.0 SEC PAUSE]

JD: (2.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

CR: Two.

PT: Three.

CR: Uh…

[2.0 SEC PAUSE]

JD: (1.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

CR: One.

PT: Fi- no, six. I forgot. Sorry.

CR: But - he…

PT: Do it again.

[1.5 SEC PAUSE]

PT: Two.

CR: Four.

[2.5 SEC PAUSE]

CR: Excuse me.

[3.0 SEC PAUSE, FOOTSTEPS]

PT: Hey, where are you…

[DOOR]

PT: I’ll - we’ll pick up on this later.

[2.5 SEC PAUSE, FOOTSTEPS]

[DOOR]

[11 MIN 9.0 SEC PAUSE]

SW: Okay, let’s try this again. Please state and spell your name for the record.

JD: Sorry. (1.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

SW: Please speak English.

JD: (3.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

SW: Or Spanish. Spanish is good too. We got people here who speak Spanish.

JD: (2.0 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

SW: You were doing fine a minute ago. What’s wrong?

JD: (1.5 SEC UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)

SW: Seriously this is not helping you right now.

[4.0 SEC PAUSE]

Hello? You still there?

[3.5 SEC PAUSE]

Come on. Answer me.

[3 MIN 38.5 SEC PAUSE]

[DOOR]

[4.0 SEC PAUSE, FOOTSTEPS]

[CLICK OF HANDCUFFS]

CR: Time to go back to your cell, asshole. Let the record show we tried to be friendly. You’re gonna wish - fuck, did we leave this thing on?


INTERVIEW WITH OFFICER STEVE WILKINS (10/29/19)


RH = Sgt. Hendrickson
SW = Ofc. Wilkins

RH: The time is 11:02 am, Tuesday, October 29, 2019. This is Sergeant Raphaelle Hendrickson with the Internal Affairs Division of the Memphis Police Department. Would you please state and spell your name for the record?

SW: Officer Steve Wilkins. W-I-L-K-I-N-S. Uh, do I have to spell “Steve” too?

RH: That won’t be necessary. How long have you been workin’ here?

SW: Since the middle of September. I was supposed to get transferred to patrol, but Mitch was supposed to be my supervisor until I learned and, um…

RH: Yes. Um.

SW: This is about what happened yesterday, isn’t it? With John Doe and the Duemling brothers?

RH: I’m afraid it is.

SW: Normally I try to keep people in separate cells if I think there’s gonna be a problem.

RH: Good policy.

SW: Well, after Detectives Raeber and Tinelli tried to interrogate John Doe, they didn’t take him back to his cell right away. They went to the break room. I overheard them arguing for a few minutes. I couldn’t hear what they were sayin’, though. Then Detective Raeber comes up to me and asks me to try to talk to John Doe over the intercom. Well, I tried but I didn’t get anywhere. I mean, all I got was the word “sorry” and the rest was in this weird language I’ve never heard before. Raeber’s like, “He was speakin’ English a minute ago. What’s he doin’?” You can check the audio of the interview. It’s all there.

RH: I will. Then what happened?

SW: Well…

[2.0 SEC PAUSE]

Listen, I don’t wanna get anybody in any trouble.

RH: Of course not. But we got two people in the hospital and their attorney’s gonna wanna know why.

SW: In this case, I think their attorney’s outta luck.

RH: No doubt. Anything to do with John Doe or the Velazquez shootin’ - don’t expect it to make sense. I’ve learned that much already.

SW: Yeah. It was just - I don’t think Raeber would normally do that. I haven’t seen him that mad before. He was all like, “He’s fuckin’ with us. He could be a murderer and we gave him the benefit of the doubt. We humored him ‘cause we thought he was mentally ill and this is how he pays us back.”

RH: Yeah. Sometimes when somebody feels like their good nature is bein’ taken advantage of, you can see an ugly side of ‘em that you didn’t know was there. Trust me - I used to work DV. I’ve seen it much worse than this. What did Tinelli say?

SW: Something like, “Let’s just make sure and get him outta there before it goes too far.” He was kinda goin’ along with it. See, Lt. Yardley brought in the Duemling brothers this morning. Big list of charges, mostly the manufacture and sale of meth. I’ve heard those guys are kinda notorious for that.

RH: They’re notorious for lots of things. Go on.

SW: Anyway, when Raeber brought John Doe back from the interview, he put him in the same cell as the Duemling brothers. Right away, Chris Duemling got up all pissed off. He was like, “What the fuck are you doin’ puttin’ this dindu in here with us?” Which is weird. I mean, isn’t “dindu” like a racial thing? Like the new n-word or somethin’?

[1.0 SEC PAUSE]

RH: What’s John Doe look like to you?

SW: He’s got a tan but he’s definitely a white guy. I mean I guess he might be part Hispanic or Latino or whatever. Kinda long hair. Middle-aged. I keep hearing people sayin’ he’s got extra fingers, but I think they must be talkin’ about somebody else.

[1.0 SEC PAUSE]

Why? What’s he look like to you?

RH: I haven’t met him in person. Have you looked at his mugshot? Any of his booking photos?

SW: No. Why would I? I mean, he’s right there in the cell.

RH: No reason. Anyway, please continue.

SW: So Raeber and Tinelli put him in there and then they kinda went just outside the door. Like close enough they could hear what was goin’ on and step in.

RH: Mm-hm.

SW: And as soon as they’re out the door, the brothers - they come right at him. John Doe. And he didn’t even try to fight back. He just stood there. The weird thing was, they - it was like they couldn’t hit him. They kept swingin’ at him but they couldn’t connect. Which was weird. I mean, he can move pretty fast but not, you know, lightning fast. Not so fast you can’t track his movements.

RH: And then what happened?

SW: And then it got really weird. Chris and Craig started hitting each other.

RH: Did they say anything to indicate why?

SW: That’s the weird part. They were still sayin’ - it sounded like they were yellin’ at John Doe but they were still punching each other.

RH: Mm-hm.

SW: Well, it turned out Chris was a lot stronger than Craig. Craig went down in like five seconds. And after he hit the floor, Chris just sorta stood there and looked around for a moment. Kinda confused, I mean. Looking at Craig on the floor tryin’ to crawl away and then looking around. And then he looks at John Doe and he’s like, “Motherfucker, I’m gonna kill you.” Only he’s not looking straight at him.

RH: Mm-hm.

SW: About this time Raeber came back in. I guess that was when he was planning to come to the rescue. But what happened instead was…

[1.5 SEC PAUSE]

RH: Go on.

SW: Chris charges right past John Doe - I mean, past him, he barely even had to step aside - and punches the wall hard. I mean his whole weight was behind it and he’s a big guy. I mean you could hear the crunch. My hand hurt the rest of the day just thinkin’ about it.

[1.0 SEC PAUSE]

Anyway, we had to take ‘em both to the hospital. The brothers, I mean.

RH: How did John Doe react to all this?

SW: He just kinda stood there.

RH: How did he look?

SW: I don’t really know. I mean, there was two injured guys - we were kinda busy with them.

RH: I understand that. Would you say he looked surprised?

SW: Well, no, he just…

[3.0 SEC PAUSE]

Christ.

RH: Yeah.

[2.0 SEC PAUSE]

SW: Uh - is that - I mean have you - do you have - um…

RH: Yeah. I, uh, I think I got everything I need. Yeah. Unless you can think of anything else you’d like to add?

SW: Nothing. Except - am I in trouble? Or, uh…

RH: All I can tell you right now is you and those two detectives are the least of our problems. On that note, this interview is concluded.


INTERVIEW WITH OFFICER JAVIER IBANEZ (10/29/19)


RH = Sgt. Hendrickson
JI = Ofc. Ibañez

RH: The time is 4:35 pm. Today is Tuesday, October 29, 2019. This is Sergeant Raphaelle Hendrickson with the Internal Affairs Division of the Memphis Police Department. Would you please state and spell your name for the record?

JI: Officer Javier Ibañez. J-A-V-I-E-R I-B-A-N-E-Z. There’s supposed to be a little curvy thing over the N, but if you can’t put it there, never mind.

RH: Thank you. Let me emphasize, Officer Ibañez, that this is just to get a little more information to help me with the Velazquez shooting. You are not in any trouble here.

JI: Yeah, and I wanna stay not in trouble.

RH: Lemme guess. Jack was a friend of yours.

JI: We weren’t close, but we met a few times. I liked him.

RH: Can I assume you’re plotting some sort of epic revenge?

JI: Huh?

RH: ‘Cause it would totally lure me into a false sense of security if you cooperated with this investigation in full.

JI: I just don’t wanna end up like him is all.

RH: Well…

JI: And don’t you go sayin’ “Don’t do what he did.” ‘Cause I wouldn’t never do that to my woman.

RH: Then we have no problem. Why don’t you start with what you did when you were called to the scene?

JI: Once we got there, Officer Mitchell pointed out the place where the suspect fell. I took Canche there and gave her the order to start sniffing for the scent.

RH: About what time did this happen?

JI: Round about fifteen minutes to six.

RH: So forty minutes after the incident.

JI: Yeah.

RH: Did you have anything belongin’ to the suspect?

JI: No, but we knew the exact spot and the man we were looking for was the last person who’d been there. And he was a homeless man. You know they got a bit of a smell to ‘em. So Canche - she didn’t have no trouble figuring out what she was supposed to be tracking.

RH: And she was able to follow the scent trail without difficulty?

JI: Wouldn’t say without difficulty. It’s harder to track over concrete and asphalt. There’s no, like, crushed vegetation. Not every dog can do it. Canche - she’s just that good. There were a couple places where we crossed a street and even she had to sniff around a moment to pick it up again, but she never lost it. I made a note along the way of places that looked like - where someone might thrown a gun away.

RH: But you had no time to search these places yourself.

JI: No. I don’t interrupt Canche when she’s got a trail.

RH: Let’s talk about the moment when you found our John Doe.

JI: If I am being investigated I want a representative of…

RH: You are not bein’ investigated. The department has no questions about your conduct in general and especially not in regards to this case.

JI: It’s just dispatch said there was a gun and I didn’t find it.

RH: If it wasn’t there, you couldn’t have found it. This is Memphis, not Baltimore. We don’t go around planting evidence.

JI: Also I’ve heard of cops who get in trouble ‘cause they didn’t use enough force.

RH: You’re probably thinkin’ of the Mader case in West Virginia. A cop got fired after he tried to end a standoff peacefully. Officially, they fired him ‘cause they said he coulda jeopardized the lives of other officers by not shootin’. Really, it was ‘cause the more information about the standoff went public, the more he made everybody else there look trigger-happy. You think you might be in a similar spot?

JI: Um…

RH: Officer Ibañez, lemme be blunt with you. No bullshit. I didn’t take this job for the free hugs. You’re more than welcome to hate my guts. I’m a snitch. That’s what I do. I’m a professional snitch. So what you need to think about is the guy I snitch to.

JI: You mean the Chief.

RH: Yes. Chief Barker. I’m basically his K-9. I sniff shit out and he decides what to do about it. And I can tell you from personal experience, he doesn’t excuse failure and he doesn’t argue with success. Everybody was sayin’ John Doe was armed and dangerous and you tracked - ‘scuse me, Canche tracked him down and you brought him in without so much as a raised voice. He’s good with that, which means I’m good with that.

JI: So no one has a problem with it?

RH: Well, the Chief doesn’t have a problem with it. Now hypothetically, if anybody were tryin’ to defend Mitch and they thought what you did undercut that defense…

JI: Uh-huh.

RH: But obviously I’m not here to defend anybody.

JI: That I believe.

RH: So - you get to the alley and…

JI: And there he is. He don’t look exactly like the dispatcher said, but he’s got the coat and the duffel bag and I can see the shape of a big can in one of the coat pockets. Anyways, he’s just sitting against the wall, kinda slumped down. Hugging his coat around him like he’s trying to keep warm. He’s got his duffel bag in his lap. The weird part is right across from him. There’s this little side door with all this shit drawn around it in chalk. Squiggles and lines and dots. It didn’t look, you know, like devil-worship shit. More like some kinda different alphabet. There was a piece of chalk on the ground right next to it.

RH: Did you get any photos of these marks?

JI: I should’ve. I was busy lookin’ for the gun. I just figured he was crazy.

[1.0 SEC PAUSE]

Anyways, when I first saw him I thought, “Shit, I better call for backup and then back off till they get here.’ Only - see, here’s the thing. Canche’s what we call a single-purpose K-9. She’s a tracker and I think she’s the best tracker we got. But she don’t do apprehension. You know what I mean?

RH: You mean she’s not a dog you would use to chase and hold a suspect.

JI: Right. And K-9s - you know, they’re professionals but they’re also dogs and sometimes they sorta forget they’re on the clock, if you know what I mean.

RH: Kinda like people.

JI: Yeah. A lot like people. Well, what Canche did is walk right up to him and start licking his face. Which, you know, if she was just a pet it’d be cute. Anyways, I give the order and she backs off. So he looks up at me and I tell him, “Stand up. Take your coat off. Turn around and put your hands on the wall.” And he does. He don’t make no argument. So first I call for a car to pick him up, ‘cause I’m pretty far from where I parked. Then I pat him down - which is not fun to do with a guy who smells like that - but I don’t find the gun. I ask him where the gun is. He’s like “No tengo pistole.”

RH: He spoke Spanish?

JI: Sí. Sorry, yes. You saw the body cam, right? You heard the audio?

RH: Yes. I did.

JI: It sounded like he was from Guatemala.

RH: Which is where you’re from. Your family arrived in the United States in 2007, correct?

JI: Uh, yes. But we got citizenship and everything.

RH: How old were you when you arrived?

JI: I was fourteen. What’s this got to do with the case?

RH: Don’t worry about that. I, uh, got sidetracked. Now, to be clear, you did not find the gun?

JI: I checked the alley while I was waiting for the car. It wasn’t there. He says he never had a gun, he don’t know what dispatch is talking about. At the time I was thinking if the gun’s in his coat or his bag we already got it. If it’s on the ground or in a trash can or whatever - maybe we’ll find it and maybe we won’t. Forty minutes - that’s plenty of time for it to get stolen. Either way the thing to do now is get the man himself in custody.

RH: Would you say you were afraid for your safety?

JI: Not especially. I mean, I know what the dispatcher said but, uh…

[2.0 SEC PAUSE]

RH: Go on.

JI: See, dogs - I’m not saying they can sense evil but if you’re tensed up, you know, ready to fight, ready to run, they can tell. They pick up on that and then they get tense.

RH: And since Canche was so much at ease with the suspect, it was your judgment that he was unprepared to resist.

JI: Yes, it was. That was my assessment of the situation.

RH: You - not Mitch, not the dispatcher - you and Canche were the ones on the scene. Nobody’s questionin’ your judgment. Or hers, for that matter.

JI: Okay, then. And I don’t really wanna draw my weapon unless I have to ‘cause Canche - we tried to train her to handle gunfire and it didn’t work out so good. She even sees me draw a gun now, she gets scared.

RH: Okay. One more thing - describe John Doe for me.

JI: Elderly male, Hispanic ethnicity, white hair, brown eyes. Over six feet. Scruffy little beard.

RH: Thank you.

JI: Looks like my grandfather only about a head taller.

RH: Thank you.

JI: May I ask why you’re asking?

RH: I’m asking because this is John Doe’s booking photo.

[3.0 SEC PAUSE]

JI: I don’t get it. This don’t look like the man I arrested.

RH: If I had an explanation - which I do not - I would not be at liberty to disclose it at the present time. All I can tell you is you’re not crazy and you’re not alone. Even the guys in booking - they thought the photo was normal when they took it, then as soon as he was out of the room they looked at it again and were like, “Who the hell is that?” Which is a problem because right now there’s only one cop in the whole department who can definitively place our John Doe at the scene of the incident, and that’s Canche.

[1.5 SEC PAUSE]

JI: You wanna hear something weird?

RH: Certainly.

JI: When I first saw him in the alley there was just a moment - lookin’ at him - when I kinda thought he looked different. Not so old, skin a little darker, weird hands. Like this. But then I looked at him again and…

[1.5 SEC PAUSE]

RH: Thank you. Is there anything else you can think of that I didn’t ask?

JI: Nothing that’s not already in the - there is one thing. I don’t know if it’s important.

RH: Please tell me.

JI: That thing Canche did - licking his face - the only other time I ever see her do that was when somebody was crying. Only if John Doe had been crying I couldn’t tell.

RH: I guess that’s all, then. Officer Ibañez, you’re free to go. This interview is concluded.

EMAIL EXCHANGE

1. 10/30/2019, 9:14 a.m.
From: rhendrickson@mpd.memphis.tenn.gov
To: chiefbarker@mpd.memphis.tenn.gov
Re: Velazquez shooting

I’m attaching the ballistics report. Here’s the short version—in spite of the ricochet, there’s enough evidence to confirm the bullet that killed Pilar Velazquez came from Mitch’s service pistol. We can stop looking for John Doe’s piece. There’s no reason to think it ever existed.

The simplest thing would be to just take it from there. He pulled the trigger. He owns the bullet. A young wife and mother of three with no criminal record is dead and the man responsible is one of our own. Those are the rules. There is more than enough evidence to support charges of criminally negligent homicide against him if that’s the way we decide to go.

However, my assessment of Mitch is that he was in genuine fear of his life when he fired his weapon. What I suspect happened is that he was thrust without his knowledge into a situation where he could no longer rely on the evidence of his own senses.

I know this isn’t SOP for IA, but in order to find out the truth I need to talk to John Doe myself. I have some ideas on how to do that successfully, but I’ll need your help.


2. 10/30/2019, 9:36 a.m.
From: chiefbarker@mpd.memphis.tenn.gov
To: rhendrickson@mpd.memphis.tenn.gov

I just got off the phone with the DA’s office. They haven’t made up their minds about Mitch yet. All I know is they will not attempt to press charges against John Doe in the Velazquez shooting. Mr. Heung, the Safeway manager, isn’t pressing charges either. No surprise. The time in court would probably cost him more than the value of the stolen goods even if he hadn’t got them back. The drug lab’s not gonna be done until next week, but they’ve already confirmed the eye drops in JD’s kit are just regular saline.

I’m curious. Normally you’d be the first to string Mitch up by the balls, especially in a million-dollar-bullet case like this. What specifically was wrong with his senses, why do you need to talk to JD, and why is talking to him different from talking to anybody else?


3. 10/30/2019, 9:51 a.m.
From: rhendrickson@mpd.memphis.tenn.gov
To: chiefbarker@mpd.memphis.tenn.gov

I’m attaching the audio files of the incident, the arrest, and my interviews of Officers Mitchell, Wilkins and Ibañez, along with Raeber and Tinelli interviewing JD.

You’ll probably think I’m out of my mind, but here’s my takeaway—no two people who look at JD directly see the same man. They can’t agree on whether he’s white or black or young or old or anything, and when they see his photo it doesn’t ring any bells. Raeber and Tinelli both saw him more or less as he was—probably because they saw the photo of him first—but they tried three times and couldn’t agree on how many fingers he was holding up. A customer and an employee of the store where he was shoplifting came within ten feet of him and didn’t see him at all.

It’s not just his face, it’s his voice. When he talks, the audio says it’s mostly in some language we can’t ID, but Raeber and Tinelli both heard him speaking English and Ibañez heard him speaking Spanish. My theory is, this is because Ibañez still thinks in Spanish and the other two think in English. It can’t be coincidence that even though Raeber and Ibañez heard different languages, they both thought his accent sounded like where they were from.

Basically, JD’s getting inside our heads and messing with us, and he’s doing it in a way that we can’t understand and can’t guard against. It’d probably take a whole bunch of scientists and a few billion dollars to figure out how he’s doing it. I’m more concerned with why he’s doing it, what else he can do and how we can protect ourselves.

And I think we can protect ourselves if we plan ahead. Whatever he does only seems to affect people who are right near him, in the room or within line of sight, looking at him and talking to him. That’s something we can work around.


4. 10/30/2019, 9:54 a.m.
From: chiefbarker@mpd.memphis.tenn.gov
To: rhendrickson@mpd.memphis.tenn.gov

I know you’re into sci-fi, Riffraff. Are you sure you’re not a little too much into it? Because I’m pretty sure I’ve seen Star Trek episodes like this.


5. 10/30/2019, 10:07 a.m.
From: rhendrickson@mpd.memphis.tenn.gov
To: chiefbarker@mpd.memphis.tenn.gov

A wise man once said, “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” As a confirmed weirdo, I volunteer my services. Seriously—listen to the audio, read the I&R manifest of JD’s stuff and tell me this is a normal situation that we can handle in a normal way.

And it’s not just me—everybody who’s come into contact with JD or his possessions is feeling shook. Count up all the bad decisions that we’ve made over the last few days. Mitch opening fire. Yardley slicing into the coat with wire cutters. Raeber and Tinelli flaking on the interview, then getting Wilkins to lock him in with the Duemling brothers. When one person fucks up, you rip them a new one and move on. When multiple people fuck up, it’s time to start looking at the situation as a whole. It might be more of JD messing with our minds, or it could be everybody’s just too rattled to think straight. I don’t know.

Here’s what I do know. At some point, very soon now, we need to let him go. In fact, we should’ve done it half an hour ago. He’s been here since last Thursday. We now know he had nothing to do with the death of Pilar Velazquez—or nothing we can prove in court. His only crime was shoplifting less than $25 worth of canned goods and trail mix, all of which have been returned undamaged. Neither the DA nor the store manager is pressing charges. Which means we no longer have any business keeping him here at all, never mind throwing him in a holding cell with meth dealers. I can’t emphasize this enough—we are violating his constitutional rights NOW. He can sue us and win NOW.

And yet he’s still in holding, and I think I know why. Somewhere in the back of our minds we’re all hoping somebody’s going to come along and take him off our hands. We’re hoping it’ll turn out there’s somebody better equipped to deal with this kind of weird shit - some kind of real-life Men in Black, Torchwood, SCP Foundation, whatever. Or space aliens will beam him back to their home planet, or Harry Potter’s going to show up and say “It’s cool, guys, he’s with me.”

I think we can say at this point that’s not going to happen. We’re the ones who have to deal with this, and right now we have no clue what we’re doing. I was in the room when Yardley sliced the coat and it mended itself. I saw the looks on everybody’s faces. Those men were freaked out, just like Raeber in the interview.

And freaking out is the appropriate response. John Doe is easily the most dangerous man we’ve ever had in here, the only reason we found him at all was blind luck and the fact that he hasn’t figured out how to fool a dog’s nose, and once we let him go it’ll be about three different miracles if we ever get hold of him again. So before we unleash him on the city of Memphis, let’s try to find out a little more about him.

If you think I’m crazy, cool. Drive me to the nearest funny farm and have them lock me up in a padded cell. It should be safe in there.


6. 10/30/2019, 10:11 a.m.
From: chiefbarker@mpd.memphis.tenn.gov
To: rhendrickson@mpd.memphis.tenn.gov

Jesus, Riffraff. You had two years in DV and dealt with some real shitshows. Then you stuck around here even when you were getting nasty-ass anonymous threats that probably came from people who work with you. (Although I’m still not convinced they weren’t all from the same person. Could even have been another woman for all I know.) In all that time, this is the first sign of fear I’ve ever seen out of you.

I don’t know what JD’s deal is, but you yourself said he never had a gun and he hasn’t instigated a damn thing. What about him scares you?


7. 10/30/2019, 10:21 a.m.
From: rhendrickson@mpd.memphis.tenn.gov
To: chiefbarker@mpd.memphis.tenn.gov

Yes, John Doe scares me. There, I said it.

He scares me because we don’t know where he stands. I mean that literally and figuratively. If shit gets real, you could think he’s in front of you but he’s actually coming up behind you or off to one side. Can’t win a fight that way.

He also scares me because we have an idea of what he can do, but we don’t know his limits. How much can he pick out of our heads? How much can he change what we see and hear? How many people can he affect at once? I’d like to know before he’s roaming the streets again.

And yeah—unless you count the shoplifting, at no point has he been the aggressor. I’d love to believe he’s an innocent little lamb who’d never hurt anybody and all the shit that’s happened is everybody else’s fault, but he’s gotten into a lot of scrapes in the past week for an innocent man. Especially one who can apparently make himself invisible to the naked eye.

Look at the sequence of events. First a cop looks at him, sees a gun that isn’t there and ends up killing an innocent bystander. Then he lets himself be arrested like he doesn’t even care. Then we try to interview him and he fucks with us. Then we lock him in with the Duemling brothers and they hurt themselves trying to beat him up.

Bottom line is, right now we don’t dare do anything to him. Any force we try to use he’ll redirect against us. And we all know it. There’s been no further violence against him. Lt. Yardley hasn’t even tried to open up the duffel bag again. And JD knows we know it. He made sure we know it. And he hasn’t asked for an attorney, which makes me wonder if he isn’t right where he wants to be.

So yeah, I’m scared, because it’s not just my life that’s in danger. I hate to sound like a stereotypical hysterical woman, but I really believe we should take a moment to think about what we’re doing and come up with a plan to minimize risk.


8. 10/30/2019, 10:25 a.m.
From: chiefbarker@mpd.memphis.tenn.gov
To: rhendrickson@mpd.memphis.tenn.gov

Yeah, you sound exactly like a woman having hysterics. “There’s a spider in the bathroom! Let’s take a moment to think about what we’re doing and come up with a plan to minimize risk!”

Seriously, I would like to interview JD again, but I’m not convinced we need to do it all that differently. We didn’t learn anything when Raeber and Tinelli interviewed him, but nothing bad happened. If you’re concerned for your safety, you could do the interview at the holding cell. That way there’ll be bars between you and him. Even if he can bend minds, he can’t bend metal.


9. 10/30/2019, 10:42 a.m.
From: rhendrickson@mpd.memphis.tenn.gov
To: chiefbarker@mpd.memphis.tenn.gov

Okay, here’s the worst-case scenario.

Let’s say I go down to the holding cell and talk to him. A few minutes later, somebody comes back from break and sees me apparently locked in the holding cell and JD outside, pulling a gun on him. So he whips out his own gun and shoots JD right in the chest. Then he opens up the cell and I step out.

Then he looks again and sees it’s not me stepping out of the cell, it’s JD. I’m the one on the floor. When he thought he was shooting JD in the chest, he was really shooting me in the face. Then he looks up and sees a couple more officers with guns drawn, looking at him like he’s… JD waving a gun around. Bang bang.

And that’s just the start. Because this building is full of people with guns and they’re all trained to run toward gunfire and screaming, and to use lethal force without hesitation if lives are at stake. And they all trust their eyes and ears. He could kill dozens of us and walk out without a scratch.

That’s the worst-case scenario, and I don’t think you can prevent it just by giving orders. On any day we don’t have a child molester in holding, I’m the least popular person in this building. But if they see JD sprout a bunch of tentacles and start pulling my limbs off, do you think they’ll just stand around and watch? Even if you order them to?

I’m not saying it’s going to happen. I’m saying right now, if it doesn’t happen it’ll be because he doesn’t want it to happen, not because we don’t want it to happen. If we do things like we normally do we’ll have no way to stop him from doing whatever the hell he feels like. I’m not okay with that. I think we should be able to exercise a little more control over the circumstances in our own house. I have some ideas on how we can do that.


10. 10/30/2019, 1:04 p.m.
From: chiefbarker@mpd.memphis.tenn.gov
To: rhendrickson@mpd.memphis.tenn.gov

Okay. Now that I’ve read all the way through your long emails and checked out all the evidence, I’m convinced. I don’t know who or what John Doe is, but he is NOT an ordinary prisoner and we can’t handle him like one. Be in my office at 3 p.m. We’ll sit down and figure out how to do this.
© 2019 - 2020 lockswriter
The plot thickens (or at least gets more confusing) when the police interview John Doe, and Sgt. Hendrickson starts putting the pieces together.
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