When I left the scene of the over bearing cop confrontation, I went right back to Jen’s office. “I need to see her,” I said to the receptionist. Then I spoke to the large plant by her desk. “Mike, you need to bring those tapes and come in here. We should speak to Jen about what happened out there.”
“I told you it might be a while,” Jen said as she walked through the doorway into the reception area.
“This is about something else and it could be serious.” I replied. “Mike, should be inside in a minute or two.”
‘What the hell have you gotten yourself into now?” she asked.
“I got stopped by a heavy handed cop. I need you to look at the tape of the incident and let me know what I need to do now.”
Once Mike came inside, we went to the conference room where Jen had all that state of the art electronic crap, which I do not understand. I stood in awe while Mike moved around hooking things together. When he turned it all on, the cop was walking from his patrol car toward my PT cruiser.
“Do you want me to go back farther?” Mike asked.
“No, this should be fine,” I replied.
When the cop said, “Get out of the car please.” Jen said, “Stop the tape.” Then she turned and asked me. “At this point, do you know why he is stopping you?”
“No, but on a traffic stop, we never asked people to get out of their car, So I assumed that it was something more than that. You know like my car matched the description of a bank robber or something.”
“Okay continue,” she said. She heard me say I was armed and that I had the proper permits. Then we watched the rest of the tape.
“Okay,” Jen said. “You guys did everything right. Now the question is what are we going to do about this.”
“I’m going to edit it into the show,” Mike said quietly.
“If you do that, we are going to catch a lot of shit,” I said. “He might be a rookie, and a jerk, but he is part of the brotherhood of the badge. They might close ranks behind him and give us a lot of shit.”
“What can they do, bar us from the Cop Out?” he asked.
“No they can find something wrong every time you drive a car in their town. They can stop and search you and the car on trumped up probably cause,” I suggested.
“We need to bring this to a head right now.”Jen said. “Otherwise Max is right. You two could be in for some heavy duty harassment.”
“What do you suggest?” I asked.
“A meeting with the chief and whoever is in charge of their internal affairs investigation. We need to do it right now, before the chief leaves for the day.”
“Set the meeting with the chief, let him call in whoever he wants after he has seen and heard the tapes,” I suggested.
“Good idea, Mike you are going to have to come along and explain. He will want to know who you are and what you were doing. The TV network will scare him as much as the threat of a suit against the city.” Jen said.
Jen went to her office to make the calls, while Mike and I stayed in the conference room. “Is this going to be a problem?” Mike asked me.
“Well what Jen is going to do will keep the cops from doing anything official. It will even give us the basis for a harassment suit, if they bug us. That is after the fact though. They can still put us against a wall and pat us down. They can break your cameras by accident of course. I have even heard of cops pretending to be bad guys and beating the crap out of people, who rock their boat.”
“Geese are you sure, they are the good guys?” he asked.
“Compared to who?” I asked in return and smiled. “If Burris has friends, they will try to save his career, so be prepared for some kind of play.”
“Maybe we should just drop it,” he said.
“Too late to do that. We either stand up now, or roll over and let them fuck us whenever they want.”
“Then we stand up to them,” he said defiantly.
“Good, but we can always make a deal, as long as it is a good deal for us,” I said.
“Like what?” he asked.
“That’s up to Jen. Trust me that is what she wants to do, and what she has in her mind right this minute. What can we get that is worth dealing that tape away? She will ask you, when you are most vulnerable, if you are willing to trade, so decide now whether you are or not. The images belongs to you, so it’s your decision.”
We sat in silence for several minutes before Jen returned. “Okay, pack everything you need to show your video to the chief. Leave my stuff though.” she said.
Mike unhooked a couple of wires. “That’s it I’m ready to go.” he declared.
Fifteen minutes later we were standing in front of the chief’s receptionist/secretary. “So do you plan to call him, or do I leave,” Jen demanded.
“He is in a meeting. He said to have you wait while he talks to these officers.” she said. “There is nothing I can do.”
“Pick up the fucking phone, and tell your boss that he will be seeing the tape on the 11 o’clock news, if he doesn’t open the fucking door in two minutes,” I demanded.
The receptionist looked at Jen who said, “What she said hon.”
“Sorry about the delay,” The portly chief said, after he opened the door, about two minutes later. “I was trying to get our officer’s side of the story before we run your tape.”
“He has no side,” Jen said. “The only question is what your response is going to be. Now we all know cops like to think of themselves as the thin blue line. ‘Us against the world’ kind of bullshit, so I’m putting you on notice, any harassment of my clients, and there will be hell to pay.” She paused to let the air leave the chiefs body before he exploded.
“I am going to hold you personally responsible for whatever happens to my clients. I don’t care, if the cop is in uniform, if he had too much to drink, or even if one of my clients just fall out a window. I will have the SBI in here so fast you will think they were staying at my house.”
“So you came to threaten me. I don’t like being threatened. I know your client dances on the edge of a razor blade. She will fall off the edge one days and we will lock her ass up, that is a promise.” he said.
“If you two are through playing who has the biggest balls, can we try to work out something here?’ I asked.
“Ah the voice of reason, what did you have in mind?” the chief asked.
“Well you have two problems as I see it. One is me. I know cops and I’m not afraid of you or your gang. But the other is, I don’t own that tape. The images belong to the producer of Meet Maxine. That is Mike, so you need to make a deal with both of us. Now what are you offering, or do you need to see the tape.”
“I want to see the tape. I want to know what our exposure is. I also want to wait until the city attorney can be here.” he said.
“You have ten minutes to get him here. I also want a cup of coffee, how about you guys,” I asked Mike and Jennifer. Jen was grinning like a cat. Mike looked terrified, but he was holding it together.
The receptionist brought my coffee and one for Jen, Mike chose to pass on the coffee. Once we were all settled in, the Chief said, “You know I have heard a lot about you Ms Stone. Some of it was even good.”
“Those were the lies,” I said with a sweet smile.
“You know it isn’t often that a small town police force can break major cases. You have done a lot to help us do just that. I don’t understand your hard ass attitude here. I thought you were a friend of law enforcement.”
“I’m a friend of good cops, who do their jobs. I am not a friend of cops who harass people, or those who cover for them. So if your cops are good guys, I will continue to be their friend. If they chose to play hardball with me and my friends, then I plan to play hardball right back. If we are going to have a pissing match chief, you might want to check out who my other friends are.”
Jen said, “Chief, I think your time is up. We have said what we came to say, so look for the tape on TV. Not the news, but on Ms Stone’s TV show.” She smiled sweetly then turned to me. “Let’s go Ms Stone.” She wanted the chief to know we weren’t making hollow threats.
“Let me call her cell, she is probably in the parking lot as we speak.” Sure enough the Female City Attorney walked in two minutes later. She was very black. I wasn’t sure what to expect from her. Small town city attorney. She js most likely a political appointee with a brain the size of a walnut, I thought.”
“Jennifer, I understand we have a problem?” she asked.
“No dear, you have a problem. Ms Stone and her friend are here seeking assurances that there won’t be a vendetta when this tape airs.”
“Then you don’t want the officer fired or anything? You just want to be sure that they don’t try any more heavy handed approaches?”
“Something like that,” Jen admitted.
“Then I think the chief can do that without me,” she said. “Are you trying to negotiate a settlement?”
“That is up to my client and her TV producer. I assume you would prefer that the tape not run on their show. You wouldn’t even get a chance to tell your side of the story,” Jen admitted.
“Well you have to know the only get out of jail free cards are in Monopoly.” the black lawyer said.
“How about access to police files and an unofficial liaison with the department. Nothing official of course,” she conceded
“Actually, I think that would be a terrible idea. If it got out, we could be in a lot of trouble. However the information to which I have access is almost the same, but not so highly restricted. I could disclose it under the freedom of information act.”
Jen turned to look at me. “Well that would take care of me, but I don’t control Mike or the content of his stories.”
“It would be really nice, if I could have a veteran officer comment on the record, and on the air about some of the things Max gets into. Comments that I could use on TV, none of this off the record bullshit.” he said.
While Mike and the Chief negotiated his deal, I studied the City Attorney. She was in here mid thirties. She was a compact model, but well equipped for sure. The problem seemed to be a wide wedding band on her left hand. Even with the wedding band she smiled at me often.
“If we are going to be working together, I should know your name, don’t you think?” I asked.
“Leticia Black,” she answered. Then added, “I know who you are Ms Stone. I knew even before this all blew up in our collective faces. I will be happy to help you, but it’s strictly business.”
“Of course,” I replied smiling at her.