Saturday, April 9, 2011


He proudly showed me the bullet they dug out of the upper cavity of his body.
He survived the shot.
It was a drive-by shooting. Two people died that night. One a fellow gang banger, the other an innocent passerby.
He was the sole survivor. And key witness. As was the bullet which linked to the shooters and gun.

The  two shooters and their getaway driver, had been on a drug-fueled revenge rampage... one gang seeking vengeance against the other. However, the shooters had lousy aim.
They killed just one gang banger,  killed an innocent man.... and  injured the other, the man I was talking to ten years later.
"I just laid there and pretended I was dead," he told me.

And once the police investigation was closed,  the sole survivor, in whose living room I stood...
was so persistent, he convinced the  the hospital and police to release the evidence to him.
The bullet.

Remember.... it was close to 10 years later when he told me this shooting story.
He left the gang and turned to education for a future.
Now he was a still a young man with a decade under his belt.
He had a job he was proud of, a young son, and a wife.
His son watched, transfixed, as dad told me the bullet story for my first time...
though the young boy, equally transfixed.... had no doubt heard  it countless times, all his life.

The bullet was in a small, clear plastic container dad pulled off the mantle above the fireplace.
It was right next to what I  quickly discerned was an urn of someone's ashes.
I chose not to ask who was in the urn on the mantle next to the bullet.
I remember thinking there was something off-kilter in keeping human ashes above a fireplace.
The scene was like a Fellini movie.... for those old enough to remember Fellini.

So he opened the plastic box, held it out in front of me and offered "the bullet" to me.
I  shook my head no,  said "you hold it", which seemed fine to him.
I could study it just fine with my eyes.

They way he held it, his palm upward, the bullet rested in the center of that palm...
I  recall thinking he thought of it as a religious icon.
A single bead from the rosary of his hoodlum past.

However, the bullet was not what my visit was about.
It was about a drunk driver -- the one in the 350 pick-up with two times the legal limit of alcohol and benzos, barbituates and opiates found in his system in his tox screen.

The drunk driver ran a red light while pedestrians were crossing at an intersection.
My new client....  the guy who'd survived the bullet shot almost a decade earlier.... was in that intersection with his son two months before I was his living room.
Fortunately,  dad saw the car coming.
Dad said he had an instantaneous gut feeling that overtook him when he saw the missile of steel racing aimed toward him and his son.
They were the last through the crosswalk and the car was aimed straight for them.
Dad said primal instinct kicked in...
and in one sweeping Superman-esque move, he lifted his son and tossed him to his right, out of the way of the car...
and into the arms of a stranger who was there for what I believe this very divine purpose.

In the police statement, the witness who caught the boy, said he was at the very edge of the cross walk, when he saw the whole scene happening.... and something inside him told him dad would grab that boy and toss him.
He caught the boy with his arms and body.... then shielded the little boy's eyes against his chest, so the little one wouldn't see dad fly though the air,  land on the hood of the car.
Nor did the son see dad's head slam and crack the windshield, then roll off the car and slam backwards and headfirst into the concrete. The impact was to the back of Dad's head and his neck.

The prospects were not good for dad, who told me he was told he died twice (and obviously revived) during the airlift  to the hospital.
Yet somehow he survived.
He would be paralyzed for life.
The DWI had no auto insurance.
And since the DWI was drinking either at home, or while driving down the road, judging from the opened...and unopened bottles in his car (which he appeared to be living out of),  there was no establishment....  like a bar or market an attorney could go after for "over-service"
So basically, as I continued my questions,  my investigation, I realized there was nothing this particular law firm could do to help.
No insurance or assets on the  DWI/Defendant's part to go after.
Besides he was in prison and not likely to get out for the remainder of his life.
Turned out, prior to this crosswalk hit, he shot and killed a man in another state and was a fugitive with multiple warrants hiding out here in WA State

If my client had his own car insurance,  maybe his uninsured motorist might have kicked in.
However, the economy is not good and many people are driving their own cars uninsured.
He had no health insurance either.

Yet dad was still happy... despite being paralyzed in his wheelchair. That happinesss was real, no fascade. His home revealed no financial affluence, yet it was filled with joy and love.... family photos, religious symbols and affirmations. He was grateful to be alive.

I so savored his positive energy, I took the easy way out.
I chose not to deliver the news to him that the lawyers  would likely not take the case and more than likely, could not help him.
Instead, I said, "I will let the lawyers review the case and see what they can do."

The attorneys are the ones who deny or resign cases when I simply can not bear to.
Call me a wimp, I don't mind.
Sometimes enough is just enough.

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