Officer Miguel Moreno and Officer Julio Cavazos were on directed patrol in an area where there had been numerous car break-ins. These officers weren’t simply being proactive. They were actually ordered to go saturate an area because the vehicle burglaries were so significant.
The officers saw what they believed to be a burglarized vehicle and they saw two occupants standing next to the vehicle. In an effort to impact their community, they decided to investigate. As soon as the officers exited their vehicles, Andrew Bice opened fire. Officer Moreno was struck in the head immediately. Officer Cavazos was shot in the chin, but still had the strength to move Officer Moreno away from the line of fire. Officer Cavazos returned fire and hit Suspect Bice in the buttocks. Suspect Bice ran around the corner and killed himself by shooting himself in the head.
How can a property crime investigation evolve into murder? What if the officers exited their vehicles with their guns drawn because something seemed suspicious about the encounter, only to discover that the two men were innocent? How would it appear to citizens if Mr. Bice and Mr. Lawson were the owners of the vehicle and they were simply trying to get assistance with their burglarized vehicle? How angry would the citizens be if the officers made them lay on the ground, with guns pointed at them, because they believed they saw a weapon, only to discover that it was a cell phone and they were the owners of the burglarized vehicle? How would it appear if the two men were simply going for a walk in the area and happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time? How many people would state that if officers are scared then they need to find another job? This job is impossible.
Actions will always beat reactions. Mr. Bice was able to shoot two trained officers before they were able to remove their weapons and shoot him. These officers had no idea who they were encountering, but did so anyway. They had no idea that Mr. Bice and Mr. Lawson were criminals and heroin addicts. They had no idea that Mr. Bice told his girlfriend that he would never go back to jail again and that he would kill an officer to prevent going back to jail. They had no idea he had a long criminal history. They didn’t even have the opportunity to speak to the two men and ask them their names.
Many people don’t believe that jail is the proper place for addicts and I beg to differ. I agree that they need help, but addicts commit crimes to sustain their habit. Bice has a history of violence and kidnapping. How would the kidnapping victim feel about Mr. Bice receiving treatment and not being jailed? How would you feel if Mr. Bice was only sent to rehab after he stole items from your vehicle to support his drug habit? Would you want him sent to treatment only? How would you feel if Mr. Bice was sent to treatment over 40 times, refused to remain in the facility and committed crimes every time he walked out of treatment? If Bice was ordered to kidnap your child in exchange for heroin, would you sympathize with him because of his addiction? Victims of crime aren’t concerned with a suspect’s drug habit and neither am I.
Bice’s friend, William Lawson, was with him when he murdered Officer Moreno. He was released at the scene and he was not suspected of being involved in the murder. A few days later, Mr. Lawson was arrested in the same area and in possession of a weapon and heroin! Who returns to the scene of such a horrific event? An addict. A criminal. Was he there to steal so that he could buy more heroin? Was he there to sell heroin? Who knows. The citizens of that area deserve to be protected from criminals like Mr. Bice and Mr. Lawson.
Immediately after “not coping” with the death of their co-worker, officers had to return to that area and serve the citizens no matter how Officer Moreno’s death impacted them. These officers arrested the same guy that was at the scene of their friend’s murder. This job is impossible. Get well soon Officer Cavazos.
R.I.P. Officer Moreno.
Chelsea Whitaker is a Dallas Area Police Officer and member of the 2005 Baylor Bear Basketball Team that won the National Championship. Her desire is to give others #perspective in order to #bridgethegap. She is a frequent contributor to Law Officer.