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Des Moines, Iowa
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Hints, Allegations and Things Left Unsaid

Geoff Wood

~Ames, Iowa~

Thursday night was one to place in the file of “how easily things can go wrong.” It started out pretty well; most of my Indianapolis coworkers left at about 4 and flew back to home. I decided to hold still in Iowa and work Friday from the Ames office so I can stay over for the Illinois State game on Saturday. I met up with some Ames staff and went for some after work beers at Whisky River and followed that up with dinner at O’Malleys. So far so good.

From there I went back to my friend’s place (buddy #1) where I’m staying this weekend. It was about 9 PM and I met up with him, his girlfriend and another friend (buddy #2) who was in town from Minneapolis for the game and brought along his new girlfriend. We all made her acquaintance and took off for Campustown. We found a good parking spot and decided on Peoples. Good times.

A great time was to be had that evening but we were only going to grab a few. As has been the case before a “few” turned into us closing the bar down. In the in between time I watched as the four of them played pool (my least favorite bar game) and then we all danced (or rather the two couples grinded on each other while I stayed back the obligatory married-man-without-his-wife distance). From there we took off from Peoples and walked up Welch to Es Tas to introduce the buddy #2’s new girlfriend to the Mad Taco. I noticed they were still serving from the bar so I ordered four beers that became four jaeger-bombs when the bartender informed me they were only doing shots. Not necessarily a smart choice.

The next thought was food and a debate ensued between the merits of chicken mcnuggets at McDonalds and cold Chinese food from Hy-Vee. McD was the big winner and we queued up our vehicle in the drive through line. We ordered four chicken nugget meals and a cheeseburger. When it was finally our time at the window (not the pay one but the food one) we were asked what sauce we wanted. Since four of us ordered nuggets we were due a slew of condiments. We went for a variety: bbq, sweet and sour, hot mustard (a must) and finally honey. The “give food guy” was laughing with us as we joked back and forth. I think you have to have that attitude to work in a place where your customers are all coming from the bar. He was having trouble with finding honey and took off from the window to grab some. Unfortunately for everyone, he did not come back. We waited a couple minutes until the cars behind us started yelling and honking. We yelled back (“we’re just waiting for honey!”) and waited again until finally another McD staffer slammed the window shut yelled at us to move on. We yelled back asking for the honey and got no response. I s’pose it’s time to go home…honey-less.

Upon arriving at the bungalow buddy #1 (our host) ignored his nuggets and went about the business of securing a proper sleeping arrangement. Buddy #1 and his girl have their room and buddy #2 and his girl took the spare, I was left with an air mattress he procured. In the midst of this clarification we heard a knock on the door. I went and tried to unsuccessfully open it (a problem I’ve always had with that door). The knocker was one of Ames’ Finest, so I called buddy #1 to see him. He rushed right over and the officer asked about what vehicle he owns. He responded and was asked for his ID. He didn’t have it on him and he walked into the house and looked for it as he tried to raise his brother-in-law (another of Ames’ Finest) on his mobile. Unsuccessful in either endeavor, he remembered his ID is in his vehicle. Since the officer had asked for it, without thinking he left the house through the backdoor, walked across the street, grabbed the ID out of the vehicle and walked back across the street and up his driveway. The police see him on his way back and yell at him, grab his arm, and when he pulls away they slam him against his girlfriend’s car (parked in the driveway) and arrest him for public intoxication. What just happened?

At that point arrested buddy #1’s girlfriend was in tears and understandably upset, buddy #2’s girlfriend was agitated and trying to take charge. Buddy #2 himself starts yelling to Buddy #1 to refuse any tests the officers may give him. I grab the phone and try and get ahold of buddy #1’s brother-in-law. As I’m doing this the office explains to Buddy #1’s girlfriend the charges being pressed. I abandon the phone and ask the officer the same question. He says “I told her” just after another 5-0 rolls onto the scene. This new officer asks me who’s car I was in tonight. Not wanting to incriminate anyone I said “I didn’t pay attention, I was just with these guys” and he doesn’t like that answer. He then asks me if I took a swing at a guy working at McDonald’s last week, which seemed like a pretty random question. I said “No, officer, I don’t live in this state and was not here last weekend”. At that point Buddy #2’s girlfriend orders me into the house even though I wish to continue the discourse with the officer. He tells me that I should take her suggestion or be booked for public intox as well. I figured it best not to press it even though I was quite calm and behaving appropriately. Inside the house I call 411 and get the home number of the brother-in-law and wake him up (we’re at about 3:30 AM at this point) to tell the story. At the same time Buddy #2 calls Buddy #1’s folks and they then call the brother-in-law for advice. It’s decided that his mom would be allowed to meet with him so she went the police station. Once there she spoke with the officers, who in her estimation were regretting their actions. It seems that they doubt the info reported to them by the “get-food-guy” at McDonald’s who started this mess. He reported to them that we were throwing sauce and fries at the window and had swung at him last weekend. Not true, friend.

Our man in the window had called in Buddy #2’s plate and that’s how and why they arrived at the house. I’m sure they originally thought they were going to crack down on some students harassing the good people in the community – they did not expect to find a group of 25-27 year olds eating chicken nuggets. Apparently, the only reason for the arrest was the fact Buddy #1 left the house even though he did that to comply with their request (to see his ID) just exactly as I would’ve done. Take note if you’re in a similar situation you are to ask the officers (who were never in the house) if you can leave and they will escort you. That makes sense for their safety and the fact you may flee. However, grabbing you on your way back in kind of nullifies that argument. They did say he “quickened his step” when they yelled at him, pulled his arm away when they reached out for his elbow, and swore at them and they believe that is just cause for a more serious arrest of “interference with official acts” or “resisting arrest”. Sounds like it to me, too, but not in the context of the actual events. I didn’t witness him speed up but that’s a pretty subjective observation (note they didn’t say he “ran”, and he was moving towards his own house). He tried to pull his arm free when they grabbed him which seems like a normal reaction to me especially since he didn’t do anything wrong and was on the phone and the curse was more of a “What the hell is going on?” not exactly swearing at the officers (though hell may have started with a “F”). To quote Australia, “WTF, mate?”

The worst part of this I understand why the cops behaved as they did. They need to be prepared at all times for a worst case scenario, even if that’s a massive overreaction (see VEISHEA 2004). I applaud that. However, there should be a way for them to ascertain the fact that it’s not the worst case. Hopefully that way won’t result in a buddy with no criminal record, who was cooperating with their requests and wasn’t even involved in the incident they were investigating spending a night at the Story County lock up. As Johnny Orr used to say “nothing good happens after midnight.”