In Texan Accent, Officer Eagle Eye Saves A Life
by Paul Bass | May 30, 2014 2:15 pm
Posted to: The Annex, Cop of the Week
The gunman’s friends urged him to shoot again. Then Officer McGlotten rolled in.
It was creeping up on 2 a.m. Reggie McGlotten, working the early-Saturday graveyard shift, figured he should hit the block because a problem bar there, the Fireside Bar & Grill on Woodward Avenue, was about to close for the evening. McGlotten figured he might find trouble there.
He was right.
He came upon a 43-year-old man named Stephen running toward him, waving his arms. “They shot at me!” Stephen yelled. “They’re trying to kill me!” He was running away from four other men, younger, in their 20s.
McGlotten, who’s also 43, hopped out of the car. Soon he had two of the men on the ground, in handcuffs. And the police had a loaded handgun in their possession, a gun that could have been used to claim another New Haven murder victim.
The outcome didn’t surprise McGlotten’s bosses. They have already started compiling tales of how the east side beat cop spots trouble or targets other officers might miss. He hit the streets four years ago, launching a new career after driving trucks and fixing refrigerators. The Abilene, Texas, native has helped recover more than his share of illegal weapons and rescue more than his share of endangered New Haveners through an unusual combination of hustle, initiative, and unusually keen eyesight.
There was the time a someone reported hearing a woman screaming for help from somewhere in the Quinnipiac River. McGlotten was at police headquarters at the time. “We didn’t hear anything,” McGlotten heard an officer on the police radio report. He decided to drive over to help. At the Ferry Street bridge he rolled down the window. He heard a voice yelling “Help me! Help me!” He walked down to the Brewery Square apartments, shone a flashlight on the water. He saw a head popping out of the water far in the distance. He called in the location; a kayaker saved her life.
Another time he participated in a chasing a car full of suspected criminals fleeing the cops. Cops saw one of the four men in the car toss a gun out the window while speeding along I-95. The cops finally caught up with the men on Main Street. A group of the officers tried, without success, to find the gun. McGlotten eventually joined them. He stood by the shoulder of the highway near Water Street. “We don’t see anything,” the officers told him. He looked 20 feet down—and spotted the gun.
One evening McGlotten was driving down Quinnipiac Avenue when he saw a taxi parked in the middle of the street near Foxon Boulevard. He saw two men standing outside the car, with two doors open on the passenger side. That didn’t look right. “This taxi driver is not letting somebody out in the middle of the intersection,” McGlotten thought to himself. he stopped. “He’s got a gun!” the driver called out. McGlotten stepped out; the armed assailant fled on foot. McGlotten followed in his car as the man ran around a Taco Bell, then around a Shell Station, across Foxon Boulevard to a Global Gas station, back to the Shell. Finally, McGlotten left the car, just as the man was getting tuckered out. McGlotten caught him, tackled him, arrested him.
“He’s always got his eyes peeled,” said Lt. Jeff Hoffman, who oversees patrol citywide.
McGlotten’s immediate supervisor, top East Shore cop Sgt. Vincent Anastasio, spoke of how the officer’s “special focus” makes a difference on the midnight-8 a.m. shift. “Without that focus, you don’t do the kind of work Officer McGlotten does. Midnight is the forgotten shift. A cop has a lot of time to himself. Reggie is consistently proactive. If he wasn’t proactive, this arrest [outside the Fireside] would have never happened.”
“I’m always finding some crazy stuff going on,” McGlotten said in an interview Thursday. “I’m always rolling up on something somewhere.”
From Abilene To Lily-White Southington
Since McGlotten’s days growing up in Abilene, Texas, his family urged him to wear a uniform and sniff out trouble. His uncle, his brothers-in-law, his cousins, were all cops. His dad was a Marine. He resisted their urgings to become a cop or a soldier. “I was too busy playing sports,” the six-foot-four former semi-pro basketball player said.
Instead, McGlotten took a job as a service tech, repairing refrigerators for Coca-Cola and Gatorade, after his family relocated to Atlanta. He moved to Connecticut with his wife, a nurse-practitioner named Dina, when they started having kids and she wanted to be closer to her parents in Waterbury. They moved to Southington, where he landed gigs driving a truck for J. B. Hunt.
The job took him away from the family for long stretches. So he decided to shift career gears and apply to become a cop, after all.
At first he worked for Southington’s force, where he was the only African-American cop. He lasted eight months. “You better watch it or Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson will be coming up,” he overheard other cops say in the locker room. Friendly officers told him about hostile comments directed his way from other cops, behind his back.
“I had two strikes against me,” McGlotten recalled. “I was black and not from that area.” A white officer originally from L.A. encountered similar hostility. He decided he had to leave, find a more diverse department.
But he has found no need to move away from Southington. His is the only African-American family in his neighborhood. And the neighbors all get along great, he said. He’ll come home during a storm to find his driveway plowed; he’ll return the favor the next day. “We’re good to one another. We help each other out.”
Both New Britain and New Haven offered him jobs. New Britain was too close to Southington, he decided. So New Haven found itself with a cop whose doctor told him at his physicals that he has better than 20-20 eyesight. He could read the tiny letters on the second-to-bottom row of letters on the wall chart. McGlotten has earned a nickname on the New Haven force: “Eagle Eye.” That eyesight indeed comes in handy. But sometimes other senses come into play instead. Like outside Fireside early last Saturday, when McGlotten, as usual, was “watching my six.”
“Shot Him! Shoot Him!”
In conversation, McGlotten doesn’t sound like a Texan. He did sound like a Texan outside Fireside when he yelled at the men who might have killed Stephen.
McGlotten came upon Stephen waving his arms and yelling at 1:37 a.m. Stephen had left the bar after spending about 20 minutes having a drink. The four men—whom he knew—followed him outside to a lot across the street. His car was parked there. So was their white Acura TSX.
The men allegedly tried to rob Stephen.
“Give it up!” one allegedly demanded.
“Why you want to mess with me?” Stephen responded, unwilling to turn over valuables.
One the men allegedly retrieved a 9mm handgun from the trunk of the Acura. He allegedly fired a shot at Stephen. He missed; the bullet hit Stephen’s car, according to a subsequent police report.
“Don’t kill me! I’ve got kids!” Stephen cried next, at which point the gunman pistol-whipped him in the head while the others punched and kicked him. “Shoot him! Shoot him!” they allegedly urged the gunman.
At that point, McGlotten arrived on the scene. Seeing him, the four men ran.
McGlotten ran after them. He caught two of them. He pointed his department-issue Glock at them.
He had his gun pointed because he knew one of the four had a gun. He didn’t know which one did. Because neither of the two was pointing a gun at him, McGlotten said, he had no reason to fire at them. Even if they had continued fleeing, he would have run after them to try to tackle them, rather than fire, as long as no one was pointing a gun at him, he said. That’s how he trained.
“Don’t move!” McGlotten yelled at the pair. His Texan accent resurfaced, as it does when he raises his voice. “Get on the ground!”
They complied. Speaking into the Motorola radio on his lapel, McGlotten called for back-up. He kept his gun trained on the pair, waiting for back-up before handcuffing them.
After detectives arrived, the officers did cuff the suspects and place them in a cruiser. McGlotten proceeded to interview Stephen.
“You saved my life,” Stephen told him.
Officers found a gun discarded by a nearby bush where the four men had fled upon seeing McGlotten. Stephen went to the hospital, where he received stitches in the front of his head, staples in the back.
He was beaten pretty badly. But he was alive.
“He needed police at that time,” McGlotten said. “I’m glad I was there.”
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