Here’s to You 17E23

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I saw on my Facebook tonight that a few friends have posted regarding the upcoming execution of Edgar Tamayo on 01/22/14. This is 20 years after he killed my friend Guy Gaddis. Dave Bush and I were riding the unit 17E14 that night. I later went on to ride with Craig Hensarling on 17E10 for a little over a year but I stayed in that beat because I loved the officers I worked with. 17 district was broken up into 4 beats; 10’s, 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s….hence 17 E (identifying Beechnut substation) and whatever beat, early side or late side. Early side units were even numbers and odd numbers were late side.

Guy Gaddis was one of the hardest working officers I ever knew. Just like the rest of us, at the end of every shift, his boots had mud on them and his uniform that had been clean at 11pm looked like he’d rolled around on the ground a couple times. I haven’t been a police officer since 1998 and even though it’s been 15 years, I have the fondest memories of my fellow officers from the time I spent chasing crooks in 17 district with Dave Bush, Craig Hensarling, Mike Flores, Garri Solano, Sid Veliz, Eddie Parodi, Chris Slyman, and Guy Gaddis. There were a ton of other officers I looked up to also, guys that had been on the street a while longer than the rest of us, Rayne, Rypien, Falhaber, Overstreet, May, Manriquez, Hubbard, Harbison, and all of Rico Garcia’s tac team guys that we wanted to be like and the list goes on and on. All of us worked in 10’s beat except for Guy and I remember always telling him that he was poaching in 10’s beat because he knew all the hard working officers were there and that’s where he belonged. Of course, we were all rookies and between running calls, we were walking through apartment complexes, sitting up on stolen cars, hoping and praying for a herd of bald headed little gangsters would pull out onto the street in one of them.

The night we lost Guy, I remember Dave Bush and I had pulled out of The Topaz parking lot right after we told Guy we’d meet up with him at Denny’s on 59 later that night. We knew it was going to take him a while to process these two turds that he had just picked up. There were several of us in that parking lot and every one of the officers there were close. We pulled a drunk over as soon as we pulled out of the parking lot. He was headed North on Chimneyrock and didn’t have his headlights on. As we were filling out the tow slip, we heard Bellaire PD come on the air to let us know that one of our units had just crashed into a  home in Bellaire on Chimneyrock. We jumped in our shop and headed that way immediately. Our gut feeling told us it was Guy. We all thought we were tough….. I thought I was tough. That feeling changed in that front yard looking at my friend. We were all in our early 20’s and in every situation, we were in control. It was a different feeling that night. It felt like no one was in control and the chaos that was in the air was permeated with the overwhelming sadness of about 20 or more officers that were on that scene.

We were blocking off Chimneyrock and making room for the helicopter that was going to come take Guy (although we had already lost him) and at one point, I stopped and couldn’t bare my emotions any longer and I went to the back seat of a patrol car that had the back door open. I sat down and without permission, the tears just started flowing. I don’t remember his first name but I think he was a 16 district officer. His last name was Poe. We always called each other by our last names. Poe pulled up close to the car I was sitting in and rolled his window down and said, “You alright Barrera?” It was a simple question. I said, “yeah, i’m alright.” I pulled myself together and stepped out of the back seat. I wasn’t alright but I appreciated him at that brief moment.

The following week, Dave Bush and I went to inquire about a headstone for a monument that we wanted to put on Chimneyrock where the tragedy happened. The owner of the headstone business only charged us for the stone and he put the wording on it for free. We put the cross in the Beechnut substation with an envelope and within a couple days, the officers of the station had paid for the cross. The upsetting part about it was that there was a group of us from 17 district that wanted to put the cross out on Chimneyrock but the chief at the time, Sam Nuchia took it upon himself to take a moment to shine with the media and made a big “to do” on TV. After coming back to Houston from a visit to Corpus Christi, Dave and I noticed that the cross was gone and we realized that the time and energy we spent to get this thing together for our close friend, had been done without us. Regardless, I’m glad the cross is still there.

My hat goes off to the men and women working in law enforcement. In that line of work, you develop relationships that are closer than the regular co-worker relationships and when something tragic happens, it cuts just a little deeper than normal. Guy was definitely one of the good guys. I’m sure there are some people, family, friends, that can describe him better than I can in the brief time that I knew him. He was kind. He knew how to talk to kids on different scenes. He was funny. He got an alarm call at the Toys-R-Us on 59 and he put a foot chase out on the air and he was chasing a 9 foot subject named Geoffrey. He was professional. He was brave. I remember the night he saved a girl from getting raped by two guys (and probably worse) behind a empty building on Bissonnet. Everyone that knew him, instantly liked him. As they say…he was “good people” and we were all fortunate for knowing him and working with him.  You’ll never be forgotten 17E23.

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