Billy Ray Fields has been a patrolman for about 7 years. Below is his interview in his own words from his perspective.
The “D.O.P.E. Spotlight” is series of real-life encounters by active and retired polices officers. These featured stories are to provide a little insight into the extremely difficult decisions officers are forced to make each day while on and off duty. I reached out to officers across the nation to share their account of situations that almost resulted in the use of deadly force.
Why did you become a Police Officer?
Well, I’ll tell you the truth. I wanted to know how child support laws and criminal laws worked because I’ve been a victim of both. I felt as though child support was not really serving its purpose, especially when I was still providing for my child. Secondly, I have a past that could be described as a little rocky. Some of things I caused myself and there’s other situations where I felt I was just another statistic. Now that I’m in it, I realize that there’s nothing like being a law enforcement officer.
What did your family think about your decision?
My father was the Chief of Police for 15 years before I was born so having that in my DNA, I was destine to do something in law enforcement. My father said, “Son if your going to do this, you need to have your house in order before you can correct someone else.” Now my mother, that was a different story. She was not a happy camper about my decision to be a police officer. Especially after I told her I was going to work for the most high crime, robbing, stealing, killing, and assault on officers department. When I say my mother prayed every night and called once a week – she did just that. Seven years later, she still calls and prays for my safety. Overall just happy about the person I have become and not so worried now because of the person she sees that I am and what I do for the community as an officer.
Well about four years ago on night shift, I came in early to find out my original partner that I patrol with wasn’t going to be in. So I was going to be working with a part-timer. The shift started at 6pm (ends at 6am) and we started out fairly busy for it to be on a Tuesday night. Most Tuesday calls for service include the usual car unlocks, domestics, peeping toms, and escorts. But I had no idea this was going to happen and it change my views on how to police.
“I unstrapped my gun holster, because I was unaware if the suspect was still inside or not”
Around 10pm that night, I was conducting my usual patrol through the neighborhoods and I just finished up my reports. So I was caught up on paperwork and finishing up my first round of property checks. I was heading to the Flash food store to get something to eat and drink; as well as talk to the citizens. Then dispatch called. I was like, “What is it now?” Dispatch stated, “Unit 028 can you be en route to Lariat St in reference to a possible rape.” I asked the dispatcher for the callers name and was told she didn’t leave one but it sounded like she was an older lady. I said, “10-4” and I was en route (10-18) which means come quickly. As I pulled up, I unstrapped my gun holster, because I was unaware if the suspect was still inside or not.
I knocked on the door and no one answered. I gingerly walked around the house looking to see if any windows or doors were open. As I made it back to the front of the house, I saw an elderly woman coming to the front door. She was covered in blood from the waist down. She told me she’d just been raped by a man. I asked her was he still inside and she stated she didn’t know. So I made her stay near the door while I checked every room to see if the suspect was still inside. I was nervous going through each door because it was a big house with lots of space and I wasn’t familiar with the layout. After checking the entire house, I finally found the room where the rape took place. There was blood on bed, on the floor, and even on the walls. Once the house was cleared, I went back to the front door where the elderly woman was standing. I was able to get a good look at the woman who appeared to be between the ages of 65-75. I asked her what happened. She said the man that usually cuts her grass came back to her house tonight to use the phone and asked for some more money. She believed that was kind of strange, but because of the fact that they had built a little trust she figured he was okay. She said, she allowed him to come inside to use the phone but she told him she wouldn’t have any more money until next week. She said, the man repeatedly asked for more money. He said, “I need for you to give me some more money!” She felt something was strange about him so she was going to call a family member to come to her house. She said the man took the phone and grabbed her by the neck and physically forced her to her bedroom. She told me she couldn’t fight him due to her age and weakness. She said the man started ripping off her clothes and scratching on her arms because she attempted to stop him. While she was telling me I saw there were scratch marks on her arm. She said the man force himself inside her several times. She stated, “I don’t remember anything else because I blacked.” After hearing her horrific story, I called the detective and advised him of the call. While he was en route and EMS was checking on the elderly woman, I received a tip that a man just pulled up to a residence with blood all over his shorts. Once the detective arrived I shared the new information. I suggested we head to Pine Crest to follow up on the anonymous tip in attempt to locate the suspect.
“I yelled at him, put the f*cking blade down!!”
When we got to Pine Crest we found the house to look abandoned. Probably set up for drug users with no lights inside. The actual person who was staying there was outside. I asked him was there anybody inside the house and he said maybe two or three people. Myself and the detective entered the house. As we walked through the house the smell of crack and other drugs seemed to mix. In one of the rooms, I saw two people asleep. They appeared to be high because they were unaware of the flashlight shining in there faces. We continued to search each room. We finally got to the bathroom, which was the last room to check. It was very dark and we only had our flashlights for light. As I shined my light toward the tub, I saw someone hiding behind it. I yelled loudly, “Come out with your hands up!” The person didn’t move. I pulled my service weapon out because I didn’t know what to expect and this was possibly my suspect. I said again, “Come out with your hands up!” with my flashlight shining directly on him. The man starts to move and comes up with a “Jason-like” machete. I yelled at him, “Put the fucking blade down!” The man said, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry” but continued walking towards me with the blade in his hand. He was holding it up as if he was going to use it either on himself or me. I continued backing up not really knowing what was behind me. It was dark and my only light was directed at him. He continued coming towards me. My hand went from being off the trigger to on the trigger now. I was saying to myself,”I’m going to have to shoot him because he’s continuing to walk towards me with a big ass blade.” I finally stopped backing up and I said, “If you don’t put that blade down, Im going to shoot you!” The man took one more step. I was just about to pull the trigger, when he put the blade down and laid on the floor. I slid the blade over and handcuffed him.
The man said, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry” but continued walking towards me with the blade in his hand. He was holding it up as if he was going to use it either on himself or me. I continued backing up not really knowing what was behind me. It was dark and my only light was directed at him. He continued coming towards me. My hand went from being off the trigger to on the trigger now. I was saying to myself,”I’m going to have to shoot him because he’s continuing to walk towards me with a big ass blade.” I finally stopped backing up and I said, “If you don’t put that blade down, Im going to shoot you!” The man took one more step. I was just about to pull the trigger, when he put the blade down and laid on the floor. I slid the blade over and handcuffed him.
I felt angry and upset, because you don’t see or get grandmas being raped. I never pictured that until it happened. I have a grandmother and I can’t imagine how the family felt when they got word that their grandmother was sexually assaulted. Normally, when an elderly person calls 911 it’s because they either heard something outside or they fell and cant get up. Never in a million years would I have thought I’d get a call that an elderly person had been sexually assaulted. That makes me take every call like it’s something serious.
Now that I have had time to think of what I could have done differently. I think, well I know I would have had my gun out prepared to shoot. In that situation with it being dark and having that “Jason-like” machete pointing at me….my emotions were high and adrenaline was pumping. I should have just grabbed my taser and shot him and it would have been over, versus the intense stare off.
I could go on and on, but to get an idea of who I am you can follow me on Facebook here. You will see the work I’m putting in as an officer and as a community guy. It’s more to policing than just locking people up. That’s half the battle. We have to stop treating humans as stats and get back to treating people as people.
Billy Ray Fields
The decision to pull the trigger as a law enforcement officer can be made in a split second. Statistics support the majority of these dangerous situation do not end in loss of life. I share these to give insight and help you better understand the difficult choices and challenges some officers are forced to confront. We welcome your comments yet please respect the contributors of these personal stories. Put yourself in their shoes and decide, “Would I have pulled the trigger?”
Stan Campbell, Founder of D.O.P.E.