By Duane Preimsberger



It was one of those 1960’s super hot, smoggy August evenings in the Los Angeles area when even the nights don’t bring a lot of relief. People were sitting on their porches trying to imagine they were feeling a breeze although the air was moving with all the alacrity of Jell-O. Fred Martin and I were working Car 15 evening, policing the Willowbrook area, south of Watts and north of Compton when our radio came alive with a shots fired, attempt suicide call just a block or two from our location on east Imperial Highway.


We were there in just a few seconds and as we pulled up a few doors away from the address of our call on Lou Dillon Street, we got out and moved cautiously toward the small, neatly kept home. We could see inside through the screen door and smell the unmistakable odor of recently fired gunpowder in the air.


“Sheriff’s Department,” Fred yelled as he banged on the door. There was no answer as we both prayed silently that we weren’t going to find the body of someone who had decided that the taste of a gun barrel in their mouth precipitated an overwhelming urge to fire a delicious lead projectile into their brain. Cautiously, we opened the door and that’s when we first became acquainted with La Shonda Williams.


She could easily be described as a Rubenesque lady, about 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighing about 250 pounds. She was dressed for the weather, with a pair of stiletto high heeled shoes, a lace trimmed black short slip and a thin gold chain. She was topless and her really large pendulous breasts swayed as she walked. She was coming toward us dragging a single shot, J.C. Higgins, .22 caliber rifle by the barrel. As she approached, she told us in no uncertain terms how little her existence mattered and demanded that we shoot the life out of her.


“I can’t do nothing right,” she cried and a stream of tears flooded across her cheeks as she sniffled and wheezed. “Can’t even kill my own sorry ass, I tried to shoot myself in the heart but the gun barrel slipped off my sweaty titties and all I done was to blow a hole in my arm! Kill me please!”


Fred managed to take the gun from her hand and as our eyes became accustomed to the gloom in the darkened house we could see that La Shonda was bleeding profusely from a wound in her upper left arm.

Blood was flowing down her arm and it dripped continuously from the end of her fingers, making little red pools on the old oak floors. Her wound was one that required immediate medical attention.


Neither Fred nor I wanted to leave the other of us alone with La Shonda so we used her telephone, instead of our patrol car radio, to call our dispatcher and order an ambulance so we could have her transported to an emergency room at St. Francis Hospital in Lynwood, a few miles away. Several minutes passed and La Shonda seemed to get even more agitated as she explained that lately, the road of her life had been intersected by a series of big speed bumps. She’d lost her job, her car had been repossessed, her best friend had stolen away her current man and she’d recently been arrested for shoplifting food in a supermarket.


“The man at the store, said I’d done stole a package of jelly beans and then when they searched me down they found the pork chops, potatoes, lima beans and the wine. Them South Gate police took me to their station after the store man signed up to make a citizen arrest of me. Them police got all busy checking to see how many times I been arrested and when they found out this be the first one, they lightened up and let me go after I signed a paper promising to appear in court.”


As La Shonda stopped telling us her tale of woe; the ambulance crew came through the front door pulling along a rolling, collapsible gurney. Once inside they rolled it over near where La Shonda was standing and she looked at it as if it had some evil intentions toward her. “What y’all think that’s for?” She yelled.


I tried to explain that all we wanted to do was to make sure that she got treated for her injury and that would require going to the hospital in an ambulance and to do that she’d need to ride on the gurney.


“I ain’t going to no hospital, I’m stayin’ right her in my own house and I’m going to die here like I wants! Next time I’ll stick my head in the oven and turn on the gas. If’n the vapors don’t get me, the fire and explosion surely will! So y’all just pack up your little rolling stretcher and your guns and get the hell out of my house!”


Both Fred and I tried hard to convince La Shonda to get on the gurney and let the ambulance guys do their job but she kept yelling at us that all she wanted to do was to kill herself and we were just wasting our time

trying to talk her into doing something else! It became apparent that we were going to have to physically restrain this large, half naked, blood dripping lady and neither of us was looking forward to doing that but there didn’t seem to be any other options, if we were to get her medical attention.


La Shonda was favoring her left arm and it was apparent to me that it must hurt so I slipped behind her and planned on using a little applied pressure to her injured arm in the hope that pain would make her comply with our requests to get on the gurney and head to the hospital.


Her fingers were slippery from blood and as I slightly twisted her arm she let out a bellow that would have made a rodeo bull envious. Unfortunately for me, at the same time, La Shonda hiked up one of her large thighs and then stomped downward driving the stiletto heel of her shoe directly onto my boot and the end of my left middle toe. My bellow was no less impressive than hers and the resulting pain made my eyes tear, my ears ring and I think a couple of fillings in opposite sides of my lower jaw exchanged places, it HURT!


Fortunately, my effort had worked and as soon as La Shonda realized what she’d done to me she became a gentle caring lady who reached out and touched my cheek as she apologized. She carried on about her inability to do anything right and her injury of me, a man who was just trying to help her, was yet another indication of her need and desire to leave this world.


I told her that I’d be OK but it would really help me feel better if she’d agree to go to the hospital with us and put off killing herself for another time. This time, she agreed and off we went with her on the gurney in the ambulance along with Fred as I followed behind them, driving our patrol car.


La Shonda’s gunshot wound was a through and through injury to her left bicep  and after cleaning it out, administering a shot of antibiotic and bandaging the entry and exit holes the ER doc pronounced her good to go.  The nursing staff let her keep the floppy hospital gown that opened in the back as a make shift blouse.


Fred and I loaded her into the backseat of our patrol car and then patiently explained to her that we couldn’t just take her home so that we’d be back again after she’d blown up her house with the gas from her oven. We were going to take her to another hospital, one that helped people with serious mental problems of the variety that made them want to hurt themselves. She got a little grumpy but soon calmed down and agreed that maybe she did need some help.


The short ride to the General Hospital in East Los Angeles was uneventful and getting La Shonda admitted to the Psych Ward went without a hitch. It was very obvious to the admitting psychiatrist that La Shonda was deeply depressed and was intent on taking her own life.

The doc agreed with our assertion that La Shonda was a danger to herself and could benefit from some care in his area of expertise.

I limped back to our patrol car in the parking lot outside the emergency room entrance and Fred offered to drive so I could nurse my injured foot.

He even suggested that we return to Saint Francis Hospital and have the staff there exam my toe, but I refused. I wasn’t real pleased with the thought of my peers learning that a short, heavy lady had temporarily put me out of commission so I threatened Fred with unspeakable tortures if he so much as mentioned my injury to anyone at our Station.


I had the next two days off and I spent most of that time lying on the couch with my foot propped up on a pillow as I applied a series of ice packs to my black and purple middle toe. I managed to return to work as scheduled and Fred had kept his vow of silence so all was well except that I wouldn’t be entering into any foot chases of bad guys for at least another week or so.


I thought I’d been successful in keeping my injury out of view from the guys and girls I worked with until I went to my mailbox in the Station and found that my name had been replaced with a new label maker

identity, “Old Broken Toe!”


I was pretty certain that Fred was the culprit and I repaid him a few days latter with the gift of my blackened toenail that had fallen off. I placed it in an envelope and left the delightful present in his mailbox.