This excerpt is part of chapter one of the fourth book in the Seasons Mystery Series, Brutal Season. I’ve been working on it for what seems like forever, but, well, stuff keeps happening that keeps me away from the computer more than I would like. The good news is that I’m back to work on the story, and it is slowly coming to an end. Then I have the editing, cover design. and formatting to have done before releasing the book.
The following takes place right after the team has been notified about the shooting of a young black man and they are called to a conference room by Lieutenant McGregor.
Sarah barely gave Price a nod, but did acknowledge the others in the room, noting how crowded it was already getting with detectives standing along the back wall. Now she understood why the largest conference room had been chosen. She’d just taken a seat when the door opened and more officers filed in. Some from Vice and more from the CAPERS unit. They were followed by Burt and his partner, Simms, along with Ryan from narcotics and his boss, Lieutenant Walsh.
Somebody must have come down hard on Walsh about his weight because it looked like he’d dropped at least fifty pounds since Sarah had last seen him three months ago. Good for him, and good for his wife, or whoever it had been that had probably saved him from a coronary.
The door opened again and Angel slipped in, heading for the far end of the conference table. Well away from others already seated there. And definitely well away from Sarah. What the hell? Angel’s whole demeaner still screamed anger. Was she going to be pissed at the whole department because of one idiot who couldn’t control his trigger finger?
Helen stood and went to the front of the room, facing the large conference table where the officers sat in comfortable wooden chairs. “You all know the basic facts by now. There’s been an officer-involved shooting. What we know so far is that the victim was Jamel Frederickson, age 18. The officer is Brad Smithfield.”
Sarah groaned. She knew full well what that officer was in for.
“Preliminary report states the teen was not armed.”
“Oh shit.” McGregor said.
Helen nodded. “As in feces and the proverbial fan.”
“Do we know any more?” Sarah asked.
“Nothing official yet,” Helen said. But Price has set us up with a live feed from Channel 8 News who has a reporter at the scene.” She motioned to Price who had his laptop open and connected to a projector. He touched a key and the screen came to life.
The scene was chaos. Lights from an ambulance and three police cars swept across like bright yellow and blue strobes at a dance hall. People milled around, most holding cell phones aloft, recording the moment, probably more for thrills than posterity. Several uniformed officers were doing their best to hold people back from the grassy lawn where the outline of a body could be seen under a white blanket.
Bianca Gomez stood to one side of the chaos, black hair dancing slightly in the breeze, microphone to her lips. “This is Bianca Gomez reporting from the scene of the deadly shooting that took place at 6:45 this morning in which young Jamel Frederickson succumbed to his injuries. Police officer, Brad Smithfield has been taken to department headquarters where he will be questioned, then put on administrative leave pending a full investigation.”
The reporter paused a moment and Sarah could clearly hear another woman’s voice crying, “My baby. My baby!” The camera swung around, finally focusing on a rail-thin woman with light mocha skin, mascara making black rivers down her cheeks. A tall, burly man with ebony skin held her upright as best he could while she wailed, “He killed my baby.”
The reporter’s pause was no coincidence. Sarah was sure of that. A distraught mother made for great television, and Bianca was all about great television.
Slowly the camera panned back to Bianca and she continued. “There are still only few details known about the incident, and why the officers were at this home, but we do know the victim was unarmed.”
“Turn that shit off.” McGregor’s voice was sharp and Helen didn’t even object to the language. She often did, thinking that cops didn’t have to curse like drunken sailors, but she just nodded to Price, who pushed a key on his laptop.
The screen went blank and silence reigned for just a moment, then Helen cleared her throat. “Under normal circumstances, we wouldn’t be having this meeting. But, well… you all know how not normal things are. So, we need to look ahead and make sure we don’t end up like Minneapolis.”
“There are sure to be protests,” Burt said.
Helen nodded. “So, we’re preparing. The mayor has asked for added security around the Federal Building. That seems to be the place protesters are drawn to.”
“Are we going to be part of that security?” Simms asked, gesturing to the other detectives in the room.
“Not at first,” Helen said. “Grotelli is already pulling his uniformed squad together to hit the streets. The commissioner has authorized overtime for the foreseeable future. You will all be on standby to assist whenever needed. Nobody rests until this is over.”
Sarah knew that included Helen, too. She never asked anything of her team than what she was willing to do. Probably where McGregor learned that basic tenant of leadership.
“You’ll be on standby. In case things escalate. And they probably will. We all know the history of this town.” Helen paused then nodded toward the captains in the room. “Orders will come through the normal chain of command. We can hope we won’t be needed.”
Yeah, Sarah thought. We can hope.
“Nothing goes to the press except through Price.” Helen glanced toward him and Sarah swore he swelled more than a little in importance. Prick. “And nobody goes near the protesters unless they’re called. Got it?”
Helen shot her trademark icy glare around the room skewering each person in turn until getting a nod of assent. Anyone new to the detective squad who’d never seen this phenomenon before and wondered how this diminutive lady, who looked a cross between Mary Poppins and their own grandmother, had become Chief of Ds, no longer wondered.
That’s all from me, folks. I hope you enjoyed reading this sample of the new book. Please do let me know with a comment, and keep in mind that this is still rough draft. Whatever plans you have for the weekend, I hope they are fun and relaxing. Be safe. Be happy.