Another Bar Fight:
Valley Police Department, 1989
"I think we're going to need more help!"

Valley, Nebraska is not the typical, small Nebraska town. Most small towns in the State are based on an agricultural economy. Most of the business in such towns support that industry like grain elevators; implement dealers, tool and hardware stores, a service station and a convenience store. Depending on the size of the town, there might be one or two bars or a café. Valley was different. It was more of a blue collar or factory town with a large portion working at Valmont Industries, or other manufacturers in the area. There were seven licensed liquor establishments, either bars or carry out, with several others very nearby. The town had always been known as a tough town, or someplace that was a place to get into trouble!

Bar fights were an occasional problem. Most of the bars were situated within a block or two of each other in the downtown business district. Two of these establishments were right across the street from each other. Typically at closing time, the patrons would come out of the two taverns like opposing teams, and would duke it out in the middle of the street. These disputes would be started about something really important like, “My four by four pickup is better than yours!” or somet other noble , lofty, or inspiring points of pride.

To help prevent these types of disturbances, we would be present to “show the flag” which is saying we would make ourselves highly visible. Near closing time, one officer would park on the north end of the area in the Union Pacific parking lot, while another officer, if available would park at the south end in the grocery store parking lot. These vantage points not only held us in the public eye, it would also allow us to be in a good position to see most of the activity going on around us. The UP Railroad parking lot was the best as it would allow us to see everything up and down the business district, and it also provided a pretty good view along US Highway 275 as well.

While the public seemed to hold the opinion that we were there looking for the opportunity to snag drunk drivers as they came out of the bars, this was not the case. While there were instances when some drunk behind the wheel did something stupid that we could not ignore and would need to react to, (like the time the drunk drove over the curb and down the sidewalk, forcing people to dive out of the way to avoid being run over,) we were there to prevent violence.

Early one evening around 9:00 PM or so, I was parked in the Union Pacific lot conversing with Sheriff’s Deputy, Jack Ritonya as our patrol cars were parked side by side. The dispatcher calls on the radio, “Omaha Sheriff, Valley Five-Four.”

“Five-Four 275 and Spruce, Valley,” I reply.

“District Seven.”

The deputy I’m talking with responds, “Seven, 275 and Spruce, Valley,”

“Waterloo Eight-Four.”

The radio responds, “Eight-Four, fourth and Main, Waterloo.”

“Elkhorn Two-Three.”

The radio responds, “Two-Three, 31 and Pacific, Elkhorn.”

“Elkhorn Two-Six.”

The radio responds, “Two-Six, Seventh and Glenn, Elkhorn.”

The dispatcher is doing what’s known as “loading the card.” She was getting ready to start five officers to a single location. This must be something BIG!

“Five-Four, District Seven, Eight-Four, Two-Three and Two-Six: 310 North Spruce Street, the Circle-V Bar and Grill, out front, in the street. Fight-Disturbance in Progress. Expidite.”

Jack and I were parked literally across the street, and we see nothing.Not a thing was going on.

“Five-Four: 10-97, nothing on arrival.”

“District 7: Also 10-97, nothing on arrival.”

Jack and I got out of our patrols cars, holster our sticks, locked the patrol cars and walked across the street to the Circle-V Bar. The establishment was a brown brick building, with no windows on the front, just a metal door. It seems nothing untoward is going on until I open the door… It looked like a scene from an old cowboy movie! Everybody is fighting! Chairs are being thrown! Bottles are being broken! It's a brawl to be sure!! I slam the door shut, and I say to Jack, “I think we’re going to need more help!”

About that time, the Waterloo Officer comes screaming up with his red and blue lights and siren on, followed shortly by the two Elkhorn Officers. I tell the new arrivals what we have going on. Kurt Denker from Elkhorn PD opens the door a crack to peek in, and had a similar reaction that I did. He slams the door back shut... “Holy Shit!

Clearly we were not going to simply waltz in through the door and join in the fight. People, cops and patrons alike would all be getting hurt. So I came up with a quick plan. I told everybody to get a hand full of flex cuffs. (Plastic, disposable restraints, used like hand cuffs.) “Jack and I will open the door, and stand near the entry. When one of these guys gets hit and stumbles near the door, Jack and I will grab them, and pull them out onto the street to your waiting hands to cuff em and hold them.”

More help was starting to arrive as we put our plan into action. After we’d pulled eight to ten people out, and had them lined up, laying on the sidewalk, it started having a positive effect. When the people inside started to notice that their playmates were disappearing, they calmed down and started wandering around aimlessly, looking for someone to play with. It soon came to the point where we were able to safely enter the establishment and take full control.

My first point of contact was with the bartender. “What happened? How did this start?” As expected, I got the typical bartender response… “I don’t know! I didn’t see anything!” We used to call this the 28th Amendment to the Constitution. The right to be stupid.

As we’re getting everyone calmed down and pacified, I asked to get the house lights turned up so we could see a bit better. In the far corner of the lounge area were tufts or piles of fur. At first, I thought it might have been upholstery stuffing from one of the chairs that had been smashed during the bar fight.

We're obtaining identification and names of people involved when this young woman came in who I mistakenly believed was a cancer patient. She was pretty much bald from the top of her head to the front. She shouting, “I WANT THAT FU**ING BITCH ARRESTED!!! I WANT TO PRESS CHARGES!!!

I respond, “Lady! Calm down! Here, have a seat, are you ok? Tell me what’s going on?”

She takes my advice, sits down and takes a breath. From here on, we’ll refer to this young lady as “The Victim.” The victim goes on to tell me that there’s been an ongoing disagreement with another woman, (who was known to the police,) for several weeks. The victim was in the bar having beer and pizza with her boyfriend, when the woman came in the bar with her husband. The victim said she ignored the woman successfully for most of the evening, until she needed to go to the restroom. As the victim passed by, the woman, who was shooting pool, the woman jabbed the victim hard in the ribs with the back of the cue stick when the victim passed behind her. The victim shouted, and the woman starting swinging the cue stick at the victim, and the fight was on! During the fight, the woman grabbed the victim by the hair, and started spinning the victim around in a circle until her hair was pulled out, and she fell to the floor. (Remember the tufts of fur on the floor? Guess where that came from.)

We obtained written statements from the Victim and her boyfriend, and a few other witnesses. We even managed to get a written statement from the bartender who previously told us he didn’t see anything! The bar was shut down for the remainder of the night, and all the other playmates were released to go home or elsewhere. In the mean time, I had a pile of paperwork to complete.

Based on the collected officer reports, the written witness statements, and my audio recordings, I prepared an Affidavit of Complaining Witness, also known as an Affidavit for an arrest warrant. During my career, I became very good at producing such affidavits, and never had one denied by a Judge. The following Monday, I proceeded to the Douglas County Courthouse at Omaha, obtained an audience before a Judge, was sworn in, obtained the Judge's signature and approval, then walked the paperwork through the mill. A few hours later, I’m returning to Valley with an Arrest Warrant in hand to arrest the woman on charges of Disturbing the Peace and Assault.

I found the woman at her home at about 6:00 or 7:00 PM that evening. Like I always did with all official contacts, the tape recorder in my pocket went on. I arrested her without incident on the authority of the warrant. She was a lot less combative when she was sober. …And she was very talkative!

I didn’t ask any questions, but she wanted to talk about the incident. So I stopped her, and said that if she wanted to talk about the fight at the bar, she should know her rights. She told me she knew all about that already, but I recited her Miranda Warnings to her just the same. She babbled on about this and that, and who was there, and who should have been there… Then she got to the good part. She said, “That fu**ing bitch, had the GALL to walk right behind me when I was trying to take a shot on the pool table. I couldn’t help it, I accidently tapped her with the cue when she got all hostile and huffy! That bitch said she should take the stick away from me, but the way I kept swinging that stick at her, there was no way that fu**ing bitch was going to get to me! I even had to hit her a few times!

I couldn’t believe it. She just confessed to assault, and I didn’t even have to ask her any questions! It all went into my arrest report.

Trial:

A few months later, the matter went to trial before a full jury. In most cases, these types of cases would be a bench trial, but the woman apparently wanted to exercise her full constitutional right to a trial before a jury of her peers.

I was called to testify, and on direct examination brought up all the facts that were raised in the Incident Report, and the Crimes Against Person Report, which led up to the arrest warrant. I was then asked if I, personally had served the arrest warrant, (Yes,) and did the defendant say anything while in my presence? I told the Court about the statements made by the subject while she was being transported to booking. The Prosecutor thanked me, and advised the Court she no further questions.

The Defense Attorney began his cross examination of my testimony, and pretty much called me an out and out liar! He asked me about the ethics of questioning a subject while traveling down the highway. I replied that I didn’t ask any questions, that the defendant just kept talking… He then asked, if no questions were asked, why did I need to advise the defendant of her rights? I replied that since the defendant was under arrest, and that seh wanted to talk, it might be a good idea for her to know her rights. Then he got loud and really jumped me. “You didn’t provide a rights advisory form which could have been signed by my client, did you?!

I calmly replied, “No I didn’t.”

(The Defense Attorney was attempting to cast doubt on my testimony from several perspectives. One, was that I had not properly advised the defendant of her rights, thus making any statement inadmissible. The other was that no statements were made at all, that I fabricated everything allegedly said, and that the lack of a signed Miranda Waiver substantiated this assertion.)

The Prosecutor asked for Re-Direct Examination. She asked if I carried a pocket tape recorder, and if I was qualified on how to use it. Of particular note, she asked, “Do you only turn the tape recorder on for special cases, or do you have it turned on all the time?”

I replied that the recorder went on before or during all official contacts with the public, including arrests.

Then she held up my tape recorder… “Officer Schulze, is this the tape recorder you had with you at the time you arrested the defendant, and did this device capture all of the defendant’s statements?"

“Yes. It is.”

While the Prosecutor is asking the Judge to enter the tape recorder and tape into evidence, the Defense is shouting objections…

The Judge asked me directly, “Officer, were the defendant's statements in your written report verbatim of what was recorded on your tape?”

“Yes Your Honor. I use the tape as my notes. I used the tape to make sure I reported the statements correctly, word for word.”

The Judge directed to the Attorneys, “I’ll allow it!

I was excused, and went back out into the Court House Rotunda. About a half hour later, the Prosecutor found me. “Nice work, Officer! She’s going to plead guilty!”


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