Chicago Warriors: Detective Robert Gusberti - The Inquisition

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I was looking forward to this day, the one where I would finally give my statement regarding the night of Joe's death. The last week had been one of the worst in my life. The death of my friend and partner was just now becoming reality for me-he was gone-forever.

I visited Susan a couple of times since the shooting, but she seemed distant, out of touch. Not that I could blame her. One day her life was that which dreams are made of; the next day everything that anchored her life was gone. Sure the boys were still there, but the glue that held all the pieces together was now missing. The logical now became illogical, dreams and hopes for the future were now just like burning candles trying to survive a strong draft. There was no more safety net for Susan, no more blanket for her to wrap around herself when she became anxious or afraid. She now faced the world with two small boys in tow who still wondered when daddy was coming home.

The funeral and burial were a blur. The crowds at the church and at the cemetery were just overwhelming. As Beth and I sat in the front pew with Susan, her four sons and both sets of parents, I still felt a sense of responsibility for having caused all of the sorrow that crushed us all like a humid Chicago day in August. We all broke down several times during the ceremonies, particularly at the gravesite. The finality of it all hit home when they lowered Joe's casket into the burial plot. St Mary's Cemetery was teeming with cops from all over the region. There were even contingents from New York and Boston. When the Emerald Society Bagpipers played, there wasn't a dry eye to be found anywhere. And then, just as quickly as it began, it was over. We were alone again.
I felt guilty about not paying much attention to Beth.

She was trying her best to comfort me, yet I knew that she was battling her own demons. I didn't have a good feeling about our future, something was amiss...something that had hold of both our souls. Was it Satan, or just both of us not listening to each other and to God? I'm not sure, but whatever the reason was I had to face it head on.

It was ten o'clock when I walked into the station. "Hey Shannon, how are you doing?" asked the desk sergeant from the third watch. The afternoon shift was still on duty. The early midnight crew would relieve them at eleven and midnight.

"I'm okay sarge. I've got an interview tonight with the homicide dicks from headquarters. Are they here yet?"
"Yeah, they're in the conference room with Mac-they're waiting for you."

"Thanks sarge."

"No problem. Hey listen Shannon; I just want to tell you how sorry I am about Joe. I know that you two were close and that his death is a tremendous loss. Just so you know, I think that you guys did a helluva job that night. We're all proud of you."

"Man...that means a whole lot. I've been beating myself up over this ever since it happened. Thank you for your kind words...God bless you brother."

I made my way down the hall to the conference room. I saw Mac sitting with two suits that I didn't recognize. Mac jumped up and grabbed my hand to shake it.

"Hi Pete, are you feeling up to this tonight?"

"Definitely Mac, I need to move on. I think sitting around has been the worst thing that I could have done. I've got to get back to doing something before I lose my mind."

"Good. When we're done here don't leave before you see me. I have to talk to you."

"Okay Mac."

Mac pointed to a male detective, "Pete, this is Detective Bobby Gusberti."

I shook Gusberti's hand. He was mid 30s, Italian, lean runner-like build with thick curly hair and a firm handshake. He looked like a guy that could take care of himself.

"Good to meet you sir."

"And this is Detective Angela Montoya."
"Nice to meet you ma'am."

Montoya was older, looked like late 40's, a little plump but definitely a cop. She exuded confidence from her handshake to her demeanor. Montoya spoke first...
"Officer Shannon, we're here to take your statement about the events that took place on the night that the subject, Richard Hatch, and Officer O'Hara were killed. We can do this one of two ways, whichever you are most comfortable with. You can just tell us what happened, starting from the time that you initially saw Hatch on that night, or we can ask you questions and lead you through the process."
"I prefer to just tell the story from start to finish. Afterward you can ask for any details that I may have not made clear."

"That will be fine Officer. Just so you know, we will be recording this interview for the purpose of accuracy and transcription at a later date. Once the statement is transcribed, you will be asked to read the entire document, initialing each page, and then signing and dating it at the end."

I sat down next to Mac, and began my statement from the point when we first saw Devil Man pull over to where Blaz and Dee were working. Once I began to tell the story, I felt as if I was actually re-living the events. I must have talked uninterrupted for close to an hour. When I got to the point where I found Joe lying on the ground, I lost it.

Mac put his arms around my shoulders to comfort me. "Pete, it's okay son, it's okay. You did your best. You reacted based on your training and your instincts. Any one of us here in this room would have done the same thing. Joe's death was an unfortunate event that was no one's fault except the shooter. Let it go now Pete...let it go."

Detective Gusberti spoke up. "Officer Shannon, was it your intention to wait to arrest the subject on a warrant?"

"Yes. We had tentatively arranged to serve the warrant along with Area One once they had the paper in hand."
"So this shooting was avoidable or unavoidable in your opinion?"

"Wait a minute."

I looked at Gusberti hard, wondering what angle he was trying to work here.

"What are you driving at?"

Gusberti put his pen down on the table, "It just seems to me that you would have been better off waiting and hitting this guy with more bodies and firepower on the following day."

I was getting angry now, and turned my body so that I was facing Gusberti directly. "Did you read any of the reports from that night Detective?"

"Yes I did."

"Then you know that this guy had a gun and was holding a female hostage, threatening to shoot her. We had to take action to save her life."

Gusberti squared off toward me in his chair.
"Was this female a hooker?"

"Yes she was," I said. "She was instrumental in allowing us to develop intel on this guy to begin with. We would not have had any vehicle or physical description on this guy if it was not for her help."

"Did you know that Area Two detectives arrested Jesse Trout?" asked Gusberti.

"Yes, he's the guy that worked for the carpet cleaners, and he was the common thread through all of the
robberies."

"That's right Officer. He gave us all of the information that we needed to solve this crime spree, including Hatch's partner, Maurice Lucas. We could have taken them both down the next day."

Mac stood up. "Detective Gusberti, I don't like the direction in which this interview is going. You and your partner are here to take a statement. This is not an adversarial proceeding, but you are attempting to make it one. Officer Shannon has given you all of the facts surrounding the night in question. He's answered your questions. As far as I'm concerned he has complied with what our police procedures require him to do."

Mac started to push his chair into the table. "Detective Montoya, do you have anything further to ask this officer?"

"No sergeant and I apologize for my partner's inappropriateness. He has been in the unit a total of five months, and apparently he has yet to discover the difference between friend and foe. We are done here. Officer Shannon, my condolences on the death of your partner. I looked through his personnel file-he was one of our best."

Gusberti and Montoya gathered their equipment and walked out into the hallway. Just then The Hammer was reporting in for the early midnight shift. He spotted Gusberti down the corridor.

"Hey Bobby, how u doin'?"

Mac and I walked out of the conference room and saw Rosato and Gusberti shaking hands. It was obvious that these two knew each other well.

"You all done taking the ‘hero's' statement?"
Lowering his voice, Gusberti replied, "Cool it man, it's not a good time. I'll call you later."

Rosato took the hint. "Yeah, right, see you later."
The Hammer ducked into the next hallway and Mac steered me toward the Supervisors' Room.

"Well it's obvious to me that Rosato and Gusberti were up to no good, and that Rosato must have encouraged his pal to give you some grief in there. I will call Montoya later to get a handle on this whole thing, but right now I've got something to give you."

Mac opened the gun safe, took out my Glock pistol, and handed it to me. "The Chief told me to tell you that you're cleared to return to duty. It's your call. If you want some more time, he's authorized another five days admin, otherwise I've got you back on the schedule for tomorrow night."

I took the gun from Mac and slid my belt through the loops on the holster. "Mac, I'm ready. In fact, I'll start tonight if you can work that out."

"No, tomorrow will be fine Pete, but there's one more thing."

What's that?"

"I've got to put you back in uniform for a while until Captain Steele picks a partner for you on Tac. He's at the Academy all week at a management school so I haven't been able to sit down with him and draw up a matrix."
I had not even thought about that angle. Going to work without Joe was going to be a huge hurdle that I would have to get over.

"Who am I working with?"

"I'm teaming you up with Officer Marilyn Benson. She's worked mostly afternoon shift, but she went on mids a couple periods ago so that she can work on her MBA down at UIC Chicago during the day. She's a good cop; been on the job about ten years and did a couple years in the Army beforehand."

"Oh yeah, I've seen her a few times. In fact, the last time we had that big disturbance at Marquette Park with the skinheads, I saw her take a guy down with a rear choke and cuff him like she was roping a steer at the rodeo."
Mac headed out toward the desk area to relieve the afternoon sergeant. "It will work out Pete, you might even find that you like working with her. If not we'll make a change. The important thing is to get you back in the saddle so that you can move forward."

"I agree Mac, thanks."

On the drive home I felt a wave of relief wash over me. I had been dreading giving this statement, but other than the episode at the end, it actually proved to be somewhat cathartic. Obviously The Hammer had tried to have his buddy trip me up on my statement, but I got through it. What was wrong with Rosato? Was he that vindictive that he would want to cause me grief or harm? I made a mental note to be vigilant around him in the future. The Hammer was a loose cannon that could go off unexpectedly.

My immediate challenge was now to fix whatever was wrong with Beth and me. I needed to right my sail now; I was adrift and needed someone to throw a line to. Beth had always been that person, but now I had my doubts. Would the choppy seas we've been sailing prove to be too much for us, or could we ask the Lord to calm the storm just as he did in the boat with the apostles?

      Next: Time For The Truth 
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John Wills spent 2 years in the U.S. Army before serving 12 years with the Chicago Police Department (CPD). He left the CPD to become an FBI Special Agent, working organized crime, violent crime, and drugs.  John Wills is an author of Chicago Warriors: Midnight Battles in the Windy City published by TotalRecallPress.com

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