A Cop, A Dipper, And Courtroom 321
Officer Harris takes the escalator up to the third floor inside D.C. Superior Court. He then does what all officers must do every morning in the courthouse: check in on his case. He walks over to courtroom 321 and scans the printout case list taped to the door. His case is there.
It's almost 9 a.m. This morning, he skipped breakfast and coffee, and took the Green Line from Camp Springs. Officer Harris says he had to be at Superior Court by 8:30. It's his day off. "Unfortunately," Harris says, "if we don't come we get in trouble."
Harris is stuck standing outside courtroom 321 because of some other guy's troubles. This past summer, he arrested a guy for possession of PCP. One of the easiest arrests he's ever made.
"Someone was driving along and smoking PCP," Harris says. "They fell asleep at the wheel at an intersection [Alabama and 32nd Street SE]. We came on the scene. He still had the dipper. He still had it in his hand. Car still in drive. Foot on the brake."
The man didn't wake up until he was in a hospital bed, Harris says. "That's when he got combative," Harris recalls. "He didn't know what was going on. He's like 'What am I here for? I didn't do anything.'"
"It was funny," Harris says. The Sixth District officer is telling his story at the end of the long hallway, in a darkened nook just outside his courtroom. At 9:15, his cellphone rings.
"They told me it's up in courtroom 321. Yes. OK. I'll come in. No he's not here. OK. All right."
Harris hangs up. It's the prosecutor calling from inside the courtroom.
"He wants me to come in," Harris says.