Another Bar Fight: Valley
Police Department, 1989
"I think we're going to need more help!"
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!
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
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.
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.
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.”
275 and Spruce, Valley,” I reply.
deputy I’m talking with responds, “Seven, 275 and Spruce,
radio responds, “Eight-Four, fourth and Main, Waterloo.”
radio responds, “Two-Three, 31 and Pacific, Elkhorn.”
radio responds, “Two-Six, Seventh and Glenn, Elkhorn.”
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!
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.”
and I were parked literally across the street, and we see nothing.Not
a thing was going on.
10-97, nothing on arrival.”
7: Also 10-97, nothing on arrival.”
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
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
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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!!!”
“Lady! Calm down! Here, have a seat, are you ok? Tell me what’s
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.)
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.
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.
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!
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!”
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.
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.
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.
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,
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.)
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
that the recorder went on before or during all official contacts
with the public, including arrests.
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
the Prosecutor is asking the Judge to enter the tape recorder and
tape into evidence, the Defense is shouting objections…
Judge asked me directly, “Officer, were the defendant's statements
in your written report verbatim of what was recorded on your tape?”
Your Honor. I use the tape as my notes. I used the tape to make
sure I reported the statements correctly, word for word.”
Judge directed to the Attorneys, “I’ll allow it!”
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!”
Purple Sage Law Enforcement