What Police Work is Really Like: Hannibalette Edition


By Chris Hernandez

So there I was, minding my own business, ordering breakfast with a few other officers. It was 6:30 a.m. on a school day. Our shift had just started, all was quiet. Then the radio came to life. Fatal accident. On a quiet residential street. Less than two miles from where we stood. We ditched our orders and headed to our cars. As we left the parking lot, I wondered, How do you have a fatal accident on a street with a 30 mph speed limit? Did someone run over a kid or something? About twenty seconds later, the dispatcher piped up again. It wasn’t an accident. It was a shooting . . .

We punched it. A minute later we turned the corner onto the street. An old car with doors thrown open was awkwardly parked in the street near a fire truck. Half a block away, a young man stood next to a firefighter. We drove to them.

The young man was shaking in terror and covered in blood. He spoke only Spanish and the firefighter couldn’t understand him. I asked him what happened and he yelled, “She’s in her house! Over there!”

At that point, I had to make a decision. Should I believe anything he said? After all, he could be the murderer himself. But he looked literally almost scared to death. I went with my gut and listened to him.

He pointed down the street. I told him to show me, and we jogged toward a house. As we passed the old car, I glimpsed a shattered body lying in the back seat. Blood covered all the windows. The shaking young man gave me a description of the suspect. Hispanic female, 40ish, short and dumpy, armed with a pistol. She had shot the young man’s friend in the head as they sat together in his back seat.

He pointed out the house and backed off. Officers surrounded the house. My partner, who had almost 20 years on the street, pointed at me and said, “Good luck, brother. God bless.” For some reason, I’ve never forgotten that moment.

My partner and I pounded on the door and stood to the side with weapons drawn. I was nervous. This wasn’t the first murderer I had pursued, but it was the first one I had pursued rights after they killed someone. I didn’t know if she would answer with a gun, shoot at us through the door, or what.

A teenage boy opened the door. I asked him if any women were in the house.

“Just my mom,” he said.

“Where is she?”

“She’s in her bedroom.” He pointed down the hall, just as a short, dumpy Hispanic woman in her 40’s walked into view. We ordered her out of the house. She came outside with a confident look on her face. We handcuffed her. Her dress was clean, but her bare feet were covered with blood.

I walked her to my patrol car. She didn’t say a word. I opened the back door and turned her toward me to sit her down. And then I saw something I had never seen before, and haven’t seen since. The sight froze me for a moment.

A small piece of brain, about the size of my pinky nail, was in her hair, just above the center of her forehead. Everything else was clean, but this piece of brain was clearly visible. I had seen brain matter before several times in shootings, accidents and on a bridge-jumper scene. There was no question about what it was.

I stopped putting her in the back seat and called other officers over. Several crowded around. We stared in amazement at the piece of brain, and one officer took photos for evidence. The woman looked at us in confusion. She didn’t speak English or understand what we said, but apparently she figured out something significant was on her head.

I put her in the back seat and went to the old car in the street. The man in the back seat wasn’t just dead, he was more like. . . destroyed. He had been shot three times in the head with a .357 at close range. For those who think bullets always make a clean little hole going in and a clean little hole going out, I hope you never see what they actually do. The car’s entire interior was covered with blood and tissue.

The terrified friend of the victim told us the story. People who watch CSI and other stupid “cop” shows might think murders are committed by criminal masterminds with a plan that is just barely foiled by astute investigators. If this doesn’t show you how convoluted and stupid murders and murderers can really be, nothing can convince you.

The survivor and his friend had met the woman at a bar the night before. They went back to her house and stayed up all night drinking and snorting cocaine. It was a good time all around.

But sometime in the morning, one of the men (aka “the victim”) finally made a sexual advance on the woman. She got angry and said no. The victim called her a bitch. She said, “Oh yeah? Well I got something for you, wait here.” She went to her bedroom and came back loading a .357 revolver.

At this point the survivor, who on the relative scale stands out as a genius, jumped up, said “I don’t want any part of this” and walked outside to his car. The victim followed a minute later. As soon as the victim got into the front passenger seat, the woman ran outside and jumped into the back seat of the car. Her hand and a large object shaped suspiciously like a .357 revolver were under her t-shirt.

She told the victim, “You’re a coward. If you were a real man, you’d sit back here next to me.”

Of course, the victim had to prove he was a real man. So he said, “Bitch, I’m not afraid of you!” and got in the back seat. The woman told the survivor, “Take me to my friend’s house down the street.”

So our survivor knows he’s got a pissed off, drunk, cocaine-ravaged woman with a pistol under her shirt sitting directly behind him. What does he do? He follows her orders and drives down the street. And remember, of the three people in the car, he’s the genius.

The survivor drove away from the house. Parents were standing at the curb with their children, waiting for the school bus. The woman continued insulting the victim. “You’re a queer, you’re a coward. I should have killed you.”

The victim’s famous last words, no doubt spoken in a confident, masculine manner, were, “Bitch, if you’re going to kill me, just f**king kill me!”

The woman pulled the pistol from under her shirt, put it to the victim’s head, and fired until it was empty. Her first three rounds shattered the victim’s skull. The recoil made her hand rise, and she put the last three through the car’s roof. The woman did this just as they were passing the school bus.

Blood splattered on the car’s windows. The survivor screamed, slammed on the brakes and turned around. The woman pointed the empty pistol at him. He scrambled from the car and ran. The woman got out, covered in gore, stuck the pistol under her shirt and walked home.

Neighbors who were outside with their children saw her drenched in blood, but didn’t know exactly what had happened. They asked her if they should call an ambulance. She answered, “I don’t give a damn, call whoever you want,” and walked into her house.

Someone did call 911 to report. . . an accident. The neighbors heard gunshots. They saw a terrified, blood-covered young man flee from the car. They saw their neighbor walk back to her house covered in blood and who knew what else, with something under her shirt, acting strangely. But they reported an accident, not a shooting. It wasn’t until a fire truck arrived that anyone knew it was a murder.

In my experience, when good people who aren’t used to violence see horrible violence, they don’t believe what they’re seeing. They think it has to be something else. I once arrived on a scene where a bank robber and police officer had just fired over thirty rounds at each other in the street in front of expensive townhomes. Two witnesses told us, “I didn’t think it was real. I thought someone was filming a movie or something.”

So, back to the arrest. After the piece of brain was photographed and I put the woman in the back seat, one of our sergeants talked to her and got her ID info. She was an illegal alien from Central America. The sergeant asked her, “Why’d you kill that guy?”

Her answer was, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I didn’t kill that guy. I’ve killed people before, but I didn’t kill that guy.”

At that point I finally got it. Short, dumpy, way older, drunk, high on coke, and a murderer? I mean, what guy could pass that up in a bar?

A little while later the homicide investigators showed up. I told them about the piece of brain in the woman’s hair. An investigator said, “Oh man, I gotta see this.”

I took him to the car and let the woman out. She was smiling. I looked above her forehead. The piece of brain was gone. I looked on her hair and face, turned her around, checked her all over. No piece of brain. I leaned into the back seat and searched for it. No brain. My partner tore out the entire back seat. No brain.

I’m pretty sure she ate it. We never found it. Whatever she did with it, she was real proud of herself.

She went to jail. Later that week, we found out the woman actually posted bail. The judge knew she was illegal, knew she would jet right back across the border, and still set her bail at only $30,000. I didn’t expect to ever see her again.

Months later her trial came up. I figured I was wasting my time going since she wouldn’t show up, but I went anyway. To my amazement, she was there.

The first day of the trial went baaaaaddd for her. The jury saw brutal crime scene photos. They heard the survivor’s testimony. They saw a picture of the woman with the piece of brain in her hair, and heard me testify that it was there when we put her in the back seat but then disappeared. They must have had the same suspicion I did about what happened to that piece of brain. I don’t even know what the woman’s defense was, other than “I didn’t do it.” When we were released for the day, I thought, This woman is screwed for sure.

As I left the courthouse I saw the woman. She was at a bus stop with her daughter, staring at me. I shook my head and walked to my car. There was no way she would show up the next day. It would be insane for her to come back.

The next day she came back. And was convicted of murder. And sentenced to life in prison.

I don’t know what shocked me more: the murder, the cannibalism or her appearance in court. Either way, I’m glad I helped put her away. And I’ll never forget her.

That was one hardcore, dangerous woman.

This post originally appeared at chrishernandezauthor.com and is reprinted here with permission. Chris is an active law enforcement officer in Texas who splits his time between military and police work. He’s also the author of Proof of Our Resolve.

65 Responses to What Police Work is Really Like: Hannibalette Edition

    • avatarIanmcall says:

      +1

      • avatarIvy Mike says:

        Perhaps the defense could have used the Pauline pretext–“Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you”–for cannibalism, which is also addressed in the best-selling novel One Second After as self-justification for the fictional The Posse, a cruel group of cannibalistic gangbangers.

  1. avatarJack Black says:

    ‘How do you have a fatal accident on a street with a 30 mph speed limit? Did someone run over a kid or something?’ Was it a cop rushing out to a call about a fatal accident that caused the fatal accident?

    • avatarMatt in FL says:

      What the hell are you talking about?

    • avatarLarry says:

      WTF dude? Troll.

    • avatarWilliam says:

      I think, for you, the insanity defense would be best. Clearly, you’re incapable of rationality. ESAD.

    • avatarjwm says:

      In my 20+ years of working at public schools we had students killed and maimed, ranging from kindergartners to high schoolers by vehicles mostly in school zones where 25 was the top speed. I saw a utility truck kill an elderly woman at a crosswalk and I’ll bet the driver of the truck wasn’t doing 20 mph. And because the speed limit is posted at 25 doesn’t mean they aren’t going faster.

      At my sons school in West Virginia a girl slipped on ice and fell under the rear wheels of a bus as it was pulling away from a compleat stop. She was killed instantly.

      Vehicles and people don’t mix.

  2. avatarFoxtrapper says:

    Good reason to round up all illegals and send them back to their home countries. But no, lets give them a pathway to citizenship instead. Who ever said crime doesn’t pay wasn’t thinking of illegal immigrants that’s for sure..

    • avatarAlphaGeek says:

      I hear a lot of white people are involved in the meth trade as producers and consumers. I bet if we shot all the white people, we could solve this meth problem once and for all. {/sarcasm}

      • avatarFoxtrapper says:

        Last I knew, we have a legal system in place for coming to this country. Sorry it takes longer than the back door, but that is the legal way and it should be the only way. I’d bet if we had secure borders, the drugs and the murders wouldn’t be here would they?

        “I bet if we shot all the white people, we could solve this meth problem once and for all. {/sarcasm}”

        So I guess you’d be ok with shooting blacks and Hispanics along with the whites involved with drugs as well?

        • avatarJerryboy says:

          how about the chinese? they deal in opium, and the native Americans deal in peyote.

          why not just nuke the whole world and be done with?

        • avatarRokurota says:

          Please tell me what this legal system is, because the last I checked, the quota for immigration from Mexico was zero.

    • avatarWilliam says:

      They’d be back within a month or two. If you’re, say, in MEXICO illegally, they’ll throw you in the slammer for a couple YEARS. If you don’t have a money line like druglords, you’re pooch is screwed for sure.

      But I wanted to ask everyone a question. Please do respond:

      Some of the people in this cop’s story did not speak any English. If you, theoretically, were relocation to, say, the Netherlands, Germany, Russia, Mauritania or whatever, would you go there expecting to never learn the native language?

      Because it’s this imposed sense of entitlement – coming to America and never intending to learn English – that I find deeply disturbing.

      • avatarphilthegardner says:

        “Press one for English” – when I first heard that, I knew it was time to look for a job outside of California.

  3. avatarJosh says:

    Another “heroic single mother.”

  4. avatarHal J. says:

    While I’ve never had a negative experience with a police officer (I don’t count 2 traffic tickets in 35 years), I’ve read of those who have…usually on left-leaning message boards, but sometime on right-leaning ones as well. Are there “bad cops” who routinely abuse people’s rights? Sure…how could there not be, human nature being what it is? Still, I think the overwhelming majority of police officers are just the opposite…”good cops” who routinely see humanity at its worst, and then have to deal with the public at large.

    Chris, thank you for your service, both here and abroad.

  5. avatarjwm says:

    Yep, but according to the stats being a cop is safer than being a janitor. Right. And I got a bridge in Brooklyn I’ll sell real cheap.

  6. avatarAccur81 says:

    That’s one part of police work that will always be difficult for the public to understand – what the call comes out as, and what it actually IS. Some folks panic at a fender bender, some at a trauma scene, and a few don’t. In a panic situation, police officers are often dealing with erroneous information. I’m not excusing police mistakes, merely commenting on experiences that I have had, and possibly explaining away a little of the suspicion all around that police have when responding to emergencies.

    Good story and thanks for sharing.

  7. avatarGreg in Allston says:

    Tam turned the world onto this guy a couple of days ago and I am deeply glad for it. I probably spent a good two hours reading his archives and will be going back for more. Mr. Hernandez can definitely write and I’m sure glad that he’s on our side. If you haven’t checked this guy out yet you’re really missing something.

    Dan, thanks for bringing Mr. Hernandez to a wider audience.

  8. avatarPhydeaux says:

    Nicely written!

    • avatarWilliam says:

      It really IS excellent writing; I’d never have thought a cop could write like that, since hiring folks with an IQ over 100 is generally not the practice. How DID you get hire, Officer Hernandez?

  9. avatarST says:

    Thanks for sharing the story.

    It may seen from time to time that this forum is anti LEO.Ive made more the a few anti cop posts myself.That being said,I post my jibes with the understanding that 80% of the problems come from 20% of the officers.Every organization except supermen squads like SFOD-D has people on the payroll who are dumber then the roof they’re standing under.Due to the nature of LE,their ignorance has lasting consequences-and that gravity is why I’m so critical.

    A crooked car salesman or nitwit banker only costs you money.A crooked cop can cost you your life.

  10. avatarMatt in FL says:

    “And sentenced to life in prison.”

    Your tax dollars at work.

    As far as I’m concerned, this woman should have been DRT. The entire system would have been better served if she had chosen to shoot it out with the responding officers, preferably with her still-empty revolver. A couple hours of paperwork, and everyone moves on. Instead, the taxpayers are paying for her to be alive for the next 20 years.

    Alternately, since she’s illegal, take her to the nearest international border and drop her off. If that international border happens to be twelve miles offshore, well… sorry, you should have shot someone in Montana.

    • avatarWilliam says:

      You’re right about the “red carpet” policy toward illegals – they’re here to drive down wages an vote for Democrats – but Death Row is actually more a burden upon taxpayers than lifers are. That’s screwball logic, but it is what it is.

  11. avatarRob G says:

    Officer Hernandez,

    I don’t know how you and your colleagues do what you do every day, but I for one appreciate it!!

  12. avatarMister Fleas says:

    Thanks Mr. Hernandez, and it was well written.

  13. avatarRalph says:

    It seems like the killer had more brains outside of her head than inside her head.

  14. avatarSixpack70 says:

    And there are people who think we will someday live in a wonderful peaceful utopia. If only we eliminate all guns from existence. If only she didn’t have a gun, that guy would still be alive, unless she had a machette, chainsaw, axe, knife, baseball bat or rock.

  15. avatarsdog says:

    ……………she ATE the brain piece??……….

  16. avatarRob says:

    “Well, I wouldn’t argue that it wasn’t a no-holds-barred, adrenaline-fueled thrill ride. But there is no way you can perpetrate that amount of carnage and mayhem and not incur a considerable amount of paperwork.”

    Nicholas Angel

    Hot Fuzz

  17. avatarTim says:

    So to relate this story back to the topic of this site, any idea how she, an illegal alien, came into possession of this gun?

  18. avatarBeninMA says:

    I was checking out that blog yesterday — some seriously good writing there! He has a lot of stuff about gun control in the last few months. Check out “Seven Rounds,” “My Life as a Tyrant,” “Weapons of War”… they’re all good, really.

    • avatarWilliam says:

      Officer Hernandez seriously needs to write a book. He’s that good, and I offer my services as an editor. Which I feel I was born to do, but it never happened.

  19. avatarmiforest says:

    another illegal alien killing the people americans won’t kill…

  20. avatarBLAMMO says:

    Reading that entire story almost made me forget how it started. Most of us have to eat breakfast before we go to work. We don’t get paid to eat breakfast at the start of our shift.

    Okay, yes, I’m being a wise@$$. I know being a cop is a shit job. Some get paid damn well for it and retire early enough to have an even more lucrative second career, but it’s still a shit job. Everybody you meet all day, every day is someone who is having a bad day. Sometimes, it’s the worst day of their life.

    • avatarCG-23 Sailor says:

      “Most of us have to eat breakfast before we go to work. We don’t get paid to eat breakfast at the start of our shift.”

      Guess you still missed the part about “Leaving their orders behind”
      There was nothing wrong with what they were doing. Except in the minds of Cop-haters who just look for excuses to bash. While out and about on Patrol, if a Cop wants to stop and get a drink for a Convenience store he can. If he wants to run into a fast-food place and get a quick order to go he can. If a call comes in however, that takes precedence over everything else, including the food he has just paid for but has no received yet.

      If a Cop’s home is in his patrol area and he needs to stop by there to “take a dump” rather than using some dirty public restroom, he can. Again… nothing wrong with that so long as he is available for calls.

      Now a Cop that will stay at home all shift, ONLY responding to a dispatched call? Yeah… that would be wrong. And he will get busted maybe even fired if caught.

      But don’t go bashing on police because they got hungry. They are people too.

      “Some get paid damn well for it and retire early enough to have an even more lucrative second career”

      You ever hear the phrase, “Everything is relative”?

      “damned well” compared to what? A fry cook? Sure. But there are MANY jobs of a far less demanding nature, far less requirements in life or death decision making on the fly, far less requiring advanced specialty schooling, Jobs that are far more “general Labor” that pay a HELL OF A LOT MORE, than a Cop’s job.

      You ask ANY Officer, and not a one of them will tell you that they chose Law Enforcement for the pay.

      They don’t start a 2nd, more lucrative career because they made a ton of money early on in their first job as a police officer which payed “damned well”… They start a second career because if they started early enough as an Officer, by the time they done 20 years, they are only in their mid 40′s and now have a ton of sought after experience that gets them a now far more lucrative job in certain security fields and Loss Prevention, etc…

      • avatarMatt in FL says:

        See also: 12 hour shifts.

      • avatarWilliam says:

        He WASN’T cop-hating. Read it again with an open mind. Also, cops make a lot more than I’ve ever made, and they generally get their on-duty meals gratis. FACTS are not hating.

        • avatarMatt in FL says:

          “…and they generally get their on-duty meals gratis.”

          Source, please? That may have been true 10+ years ago, but most municipalities now have very strict rules about that sort of thing.

        • avatarjwm says:

          Wiiliam, cops make more money than you or I. But I don’t have to deal with people soaked in others blood and internal organs.

          I worked at a state prison for a year. Cops are welcome to the extra money for putting up with those assholes and their families on a dailey basis.

        • avatarAccur81 says:

          It’s true – I sometimes get free or discounted meals. Some restaurants have it as a policy, some do it to attract police in rough area, some may even do it if they like me personally. I don’t have any $0.00 receipts, but I could get one that has “police discount” on it.

          I tip well because it makes me nervous, and because I appreciate the service.

      • avatarBLAMMO says:

        Lighten up Francis. Did I not admit it was a wise-ass remark? If that wasn’t good enough, … well all I have to say is ban-worthy and you’re not worth it.

  21. avatarSGC says:

    This story is just one example of what cops deal with on a daily basis, and not just in major cities. Yes, it does not justify or excuse bad behaviour on the part of cops. It does illustrate that they put up with alot of crap most of us will never see or expereince in our lifetimes.

    I was a cop for almost 20 years, and I’m still a reserve officer. That scene reminds me of ones that I’ve worked: like the guy that stabbed his mother to death because she wouldn’t give him money for dope…and having to jump over her dead body to chase this a$$hole four blocks before catching him, or the guy that stomped his mothers brains out in the living room…for reasons unknown…and patiently waited on the couch for us to arrive and take him into custody…or the young female that shot herself in the abdomen in the tub to allegedly commit suicide, with a 8 month old fetus in her belly, that convienently took the slug for her…and she DIDN’T go to jail…

    I’m glad I don’t do that job anymore, but I can’t stand disrespect for the majority of people who are doing it. Yes, punish the guilty among them, weed out the bad apples, but leave the people who are working for a living alone, they have enough to deal with.

    • avatarRalph says:

      punish the guilty among them

      And how shall we do that when the innocent among them are covering for the guilty, or looking the other way?

      Police officers, it’s your mess. Clean it up.

  22. avatarLaurie says:

    Ok, so let me throw this out there. And mind you, I am not excusing the crime, or agreeing with what she did by any stretch. What made her react the way she did? It wasn’t just the partying all night, though I am quite sure it hand a hand in it. But this is a deeper kind of irrationality. And it stemmed from the man making a sexual advance at her. The article stated she was here illegally and Hispanic. So for arguments sake, let’s say she is from Mexico. How many people are aware that the age of sexual consent in Mexico is 12? http://www.avert.org/age-of-consent.htm
    That being said, how many of you out there have children that age or younger? Would any of you consent to having a 50 year old man fuck your 12 year old daughter? I rather doubt it. I am guessing this woman had been sexually violated since she was a small child. The drugs facilitated her snap on reality….because obviously you are not going to be thinking clear, but having a history of abuse, and no help for it, is also going to skew your thinking just a bit. Her behavior suggests an almost total departure from reality. I say almost because she did actually show up for her trial, voluntarily. But she did most likely consume the matter in her hair, and regular people just don’t do that kind of thing. I am guessing as well that she was here illegally as a way to have a better life. One where she was free of the abuse that she most likely suffered all her life. But as we all know, old patterns die hard as she continued to abuse herself with drugs and unsavory types. Unfortunately it sounds as though her grip on what reality she had hold of broke that day. She didn’t murder the man in the back of the car, she murdered an amalgam of the men who had abused her since day one. This is where that kind of anger comes from. It’s Aileen Wournos all over again. Now, what would you do if you discovered someone abusing your 12 year old child? I’m betting if you found out someone did that to your child, you would be compelled to do exactly as she did to the man in the back seat.

    • avatarMatt in FL says:

      Laurie, it really sounds like you’re trying to rationalize crazy. You can’t do it. You can tell a compelling story, and I’ll call it bullshit. I don’t care why she did what she did. I’m not interested in understanding it.

      You can’t even begin to compare her actions to “if you discovered someone abusing your 12 year old child.” She went down the hall, got her gun, pursued him into the car, and taunted him repeatedly before she shot him, and then she acted like nothing had happened. She was not a traumatized lost soul, she was a friggin’ psychopath. That bears no resemblance whatsoever to an angry father in the heat of the moment.

      Again, you can’t rationalize crazy.

  23. avatarRandy Drescher says:

    No, you don’t need a gun for protection, you just need a lot of brady brains, Randy

  24. avatarJerryboy says:

    so you’re telling me the woman ate… brains??? i guess that settles it, the zombie apocalypse has begun!

  25. avatarg says:

    [The victim’s famous last words, no doubt spoken in a confident, masculine manner, were, “B*tch, if you’re going to kill me, just f**king kill me!”]

    Truth is stranger than fiction… and that is some straight up, hardc0re, crazy ish.

    Thanks for your service, and for the interest piece, Mr. Hernandez.

  26. avatarp35flash says:

    I want to meet this dude. I didn’t think there were any real cops like him anymore.

  27. avatarRuss Bixby says:

    I was never a cop, but I was an EMT, in the east Los Angeles area.

    I for one will never bitch about LEOs as a group.

    There are bad cops, sure, and even areas with severely double plus ungood departments, but by and large they’ve the toughest, most thankless job imaginable and most of ‘em just do it.

    Russ, old fart

  28. avatarmike says:

    Well that did it….no more bars for me.

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