“I say this because your situation, perhaps your case would appear to be unique as compared to the other wretches we picked up…”
I scrutinized the table intently. I wondered how the lines had scored the steel. I pictured a wiry man scrabbling at the smooth surface refusing to be dragged back to his cell, while stolid officers yanked mercilessly at his flailing legs.
“I hope you’re listening to me, because one of the interesting things about your case is this:”
He dropped the blood encrusted folding knife onto the table. My essence stained its fake wood stock and chrome ends. Bits of dried me had already clotted and collected at the corners of the firmly sealed evidence bag that the knife now resided in.
“And there’s that.” He continued, gesturing at my side. “And then there’s the few odd stories we’ve heard about you – at least we think it’s you – being attacked by this random guy. What do you think about that?”
I shifted my gaze to the floor. Again, there were all sorts of interesting pits and depressions that could catch a person’s fancy.
“You see, and then there’s the manner of your arrest. The arresting officer stated that you were ‘beating the hell out of some guy’.” He paused. “Now, let’s look at it this way. If you were attacked by a knife-wielding maniac, without provocation, that’s self-defense. That’s not a crime. In fact, assuming you can pass a breathalyzer test, you’d be free to go.” He paused again. “Or, say that’s not the case. You could have been beating that guy for another reason; you know; assault, aggravated assault, battery, possibly, even robbery. Now those are crimes. Serious, life-changing crimes.”
I stared hard at the floor, stone faced as he leaned forward.
“So let’s say we are skeptical, and we charge you with a crime, because you refuse to tell us what happened, in your own words. Then, at trial, you plead self-defense, and it turns out that it was. That’s a big hassle for everyone. Costs, public record, humiliation, and all that crap. Plus, maybe the judge thinks that you were excessive in your defense. Maybe the judge thinks that you exceeded the bounds of self-defense and became the aggressor. They like to call that escalation. And maybe he doesn’t like you, or whatever - you might get convicted anyways.”
I tried not to shake.
“But let’s say there’s a one-time alternative. We’re busy, like we said, and we’re inclined to believe that it was straight self-defense. In that case, all we’d have to do is hear it from you, right now, without a lawyer, without all of that record stuff, and we could let you go if you pass that breathalyzer. No record, no fuss. You’d be free to go. You could stay, if you wanted to press charges, but all things considered, I don’t think you’d want to go down that road, after what happened. So – are you listening?”
I looked up.
“It’s simple. Either you tell us right now, that it was self-defense, we test to see if you’ve been drinking, and if you’re not, we let you go, no record, no questions asked, or you do it the hard way, by the book. You’ll make your one call, get an attorney, make your record, and we take it from there. But the catch is, you have to decide now. Because if you don’t say anything, and we leave, we’re going to assume – that either you’re dumb – or you want things the hard way. So, you’ve got thirty seconds.”