Tyler Garrett is a model SWAT officer whose good looks, education and familial status add to that image. The fact that he is a black man in the predominately white Spokane Police Department only adds to the city administration’s pride in one of their own. He’s often pointed to as an example of the department’s best and brightest—a young man on the rise.
One summer evening, Garrett stops a reckless driver. It’s something he’s done a thousand times except this time, gunfire erupts from a nearby house. As Garrett dives for cover, the driver turns and begins shooting as well. Garrett survives the ambush by killing the driver and chasing off the additional shooter.
The legend of Tyler Garrett grows and the community rallies around him.
Until the initial investigation determines the driver was shot in the back and his gun has somehow disappeared. Suddenly, the police department, city hall, and even the national news media are wondering just what happened that night? In a nation where police brutality dominates the headlines, Garrett’s case has suddenly become a flashpoint.
Now, Officer Tyler Garrett must take matters into his own hands. Time is quickly running out for him to find the second shooter and to clear his name.
Praise for CHARLIE-316:
“A hard-hitting police conspiracy tale turned on its head, Charlie-316 bristles with authenticity and rich detail. Conway and Zafiro deliver an engrossing socio-political drama that packs plenty of action and intrigue, while asking the difficult questions. Corruption, conspiracy, and compromise frame the downfall of a perfect cop. And Wardell Clint is the most nuanced, fascinating detective I’ve read in a very long time. This one tackles tough issues and will leave no reader indifferent. Compelling.” —James W. Ziskin, Anthony and Macavity Award-winning author of the Ellie Stone mysteries
“Riveting and compulsively readable, Charlie-316 is an ambitious book about many things including honor, the murkiness of politics, corruption, and a good man searching for the truth. Any fan of Don Winslow’s critically-acclaimed The Force needs to be searching out and reading this book.” —Dave Zeltserman, author of Small Crimes
“In Charlie-316, Conway and Zafiro, two master storytellers, have punched a hole in the blue wall in this compelling tale that offers the reader a no-holds barred, insider’s view of corruption in a mid-sized American city.” —Charles Salzberg, author of Second Story Man
“Crackles with authenticity and ripped-from-the-headlines urgency. This is a police procedural written by guys who know the job from the inside. It offers a full view of an incident that feels as real as they come. Charlie-316 is the ultimate ride-along.” —Eric Beetner, author of All The Way Down
“Few books have the ambition to cover the scope attempted here; fewer can pull it off. Charlie-316 does more than pull it off: it succeeds. Not since The Wire have I seen a better mixture of crime, law enforcement, politics, and media.” —Dana King, Shamus Award-nominated author of the Nick Forte and Penns River series
“Not since the glory days of Joseph Wambaugh has there been such an unflinching portrayal of working cops under pressure. In Charlie-316, Colin Conway and Frank Zafiro deftly juggle a complex cast of characters coping with the issues—racial, political, and personal—that boil around a controversial officer-involved shooting. Expect surprises. Highly recommended.” —J.D. Rhoades, author of Fortunate Son, People Like Us, and the Jack Keller series
|Publisher:||Down & Out Books II, LLC|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.89(d)|
Read an Excerpt
Tyler Garrett slid behind the wheel of the patrol car and shut off his overhead lights. Ahead of him, the car he'd stopped a few minutes ago pulled tentatively back into the roadway and headed on its way. The driver had been a grocery clerk, just off shift, and she'd drifted through a stop sign on her way home. Garrett had given her a friendly warning. He didn't write tickets to working people.
Garrett reached for the microphone and depressed the button. "Charlie-three-sixteen, I'm clear."
"Three-sixteen, copy," came the dispatcher's reply.
He put the car into gear and drove with the air conditioner cranked and the windows down. It was a habit he developed over the years to better connect with his environment. He wanted to be able to feel, hear, and smell the neighborhoods as he drifted through them looking for crime.
Garrett smiled as an image of Marvel's Luke Cage popped into his mind.
"Yeah, I'm Power Man," he muttered to himself. "A regular crime fighting machine."
He guided his patrol car through East Central Spokane, a neighborhood just south of Interstate 90. It was an eclectic mixture of black and white, with a growing Russian population. Spokane was a predominantly pale city but East Central bucked the trend. Almost everyone he knew either grew up in or had connections to the neighborhood. Even though he no longer lived in that part of the city, it was a personal mission to keep watch on this neighborhood.
DJ Khaled's "I'm the One" softly played while he drove. Garrett whispered the words and bobbed his head, his eyes scanning for any illegal activity. With a light ding, a call for service popped up on the Mobile Data Computer to his right. A quick glance told him it was a noise complaint between two neighbors on the South Hill, Spokane's wealthiest part of town. Garrett shook his head. He planned to take a break in a few minutes to stretch his legs. He didn't want to listen to some Richie Rich complaining. Let someone else take it, he thought.
He hooked his finger over the top of the ballistic vest that was underneath his uniform and tugged it down. While he sat in the car, the vest had a habit of riding up until it touched his throat. Most of the time, it didn't bother him much. However, on a hot August night, the vest was a nagging irritant that threatened to put him in a foul mood.
It was shortly after midnight and vehicle traffic had thinned out in the neighborhoods. A white male rode a BMX bike across the street in front of him, a TV balanced precariously on the handlebars. He considered stopping him, but knew it almost certainly meant some sort of paperwork. If the guy didn't have an arrest warrant, then either the TV or bike was stolen.
Garrett grinned. If he had a nickel for every scraggly white guy riding a BMX while carrying a TV in Spokane ...
A Chrysler 300 lurched out onto Thor Street from Ninth, cutting him off. Garrett tapped his brakes to slow his car. It was the second time Garrett had seen the car tonight. It was hard to mistake it with the front-end damage and the spare tire running on the front left. The Chrysler immediately turned west onto Eighth without signaling, cutting off a newer pick-up truck headed in the opposite direction. The Chrysler accelerated, its engine roaring in the quiet of the night.
Garrett turned in front of the now stopped truck and caught the eye of the BMX rider. Both the driver and the cyclist were watching so Garrett accelerated to catch up with the Chrysler which was doing its best to avoid him. The engine of his patrol car whined as he gained ground for several blocks.
Garrett grabbed his microphone and keyed it. "Charlie-three-sixteen, a traffic stop." "Three-sixteen," a radio dispatcher responded. "Go ahead."
"A white Chrysler 300 at Greene and Eighth," Garrett said, before he phonetically read the letters of the license plate. "Code Four."
"Greene and Eighth. Code Four," the dispatcher repeated, verifying his instruction that a back-up officer was not needed.
Garrett activated his emergency lights, and, for a moment, the Chrysler accelerated before its brake lights flashed on and off several times as the driver tapped his brakes. The Chrysler continued the length of the block, his speed consistent.
He'd seen this many times before. The guy was deciding whether to run.
"Don't do it," Garrett muttered. "Just pull over."
The car turned right when the street ran into Underhill Park. Garrett keyed his mic. "Charlie-three-sixteen, he's still rolling. We're at the park."
"Copy, Sixteen. Charlie-three-twelve to back?"
Officer Ray Zielinski's gravelly voice immediately responded to the request for backup. "Twelve, copy."
The Chrysler suddenly pulled over and stopped on the right side of the street. The park was on the opposite side of the street and an older home with a for sale sign stood on the right. Garrett immediately parked his car behind the Chrysler and hopped out, watching for signs that the driver might run into the park where he had played as a child. He keyed his shoulder mic at the same time. "Sixteen, we're stopped. Still Code Four."
"Copy, Sixteen. Charlie-three-twelve, disregard."
Zielinski clicked his mic in response.
The driver exited the car and turned to face Garrett. A tall, skinny white man, he wore only knee length shorts and tennis shoes. A single thick gold chain hung around his neck. Highlighted in blue and red by the splashing rotator lights of Garrett's patrol car were various tattoos that covered his body.
"What is your problem, man?" the driver yelled.
"Get back in your car," Garrett ordered him.
The driver waved his hands around as he yelled. "You think you can do anything? The mighty five-oh. I ain't afraid of you. You can't do nothing to me. Why keep pretending?"
Ty dropped his hand onto his Glock and repeated, "Get back in your car. Now!"
"I'm not taking this anymore!" the driver yelled and reached behind his back.
Garrett unsnapped his holster and freed his Glock.
A shot rang out and the window in his driver's door exploded. Garrett's mind froze for a split second. He hadn't seen the driver fire, but instinctively, he pointed his gun at him.
A second and third shot rang out. He snapped his head to the right in the direction of the shots. They were coming from the vacant house.
The realization hit him hard. A surge of adrenaline seemed to explode through him. He dropped behind the driver's door and took a deep breath to steady himself. Training kicked in as his mind immediately switched into tactical mode.
Two points of fire, he thought quickly. The car and the house. They had him triangulated. Garrett's mind raced and came to one immediate decision. Eliminate one threat now.
More shots cut through the night as rounds thudded into the patrol car. Glass exploded and rained down around him.
Remaining crouched, Garrett quickly scooted out from behind the door and fired two shots at the driver. At least one round found the target as the driver collapsed to the street.
Ty moved to the back of the car and arose slightly above the trunk section. He fired three quick shots into the house before dropping below the cover of the car. Without hesitation, he moved toward to the hood section of the car. As he shuffled along in a crouch, he changed magazines, keeping his weapon fully loaded just as he'd been trained. At the front tire, he raised back into view, prepared to fire. Garrett realized no more shots were being fired from the house. An eerie silence had descended upon the neighborhood.
He became keenly aware of the whirring of his emergency lights above him when he heard a screen door slam in the distance. Then it slammed a second time.
Garrett stood and sprinted toward the house, seeing a six-foot-fence that bordered both sides of the house as he ran. He knew not to scale it and come face-to-face with a potential shooter. Instead, he leaped on the porch in a single step. He steadied himself and kicked the door. It opened with a splintery explosion at the handle.
From behind the house, an engine revved loudly. Garrett raised his weapon and hurried through each room, prepared to find a shooter waiting for him in the dark. With each step, he was convinced there'd be a flash of light and the bite of lead. Sweat poured down his forehead and into his eyes. He wiped it away with his left hand and kept his gun trained on the threat areas as he moved through the small house. His radio crackled but he ignored it. No one waited in any room, and there was no furniture to hide behind. The house was completely vacant.
When he got to the rear of the house, the back door stood open. He burst through the screen door which slammed shut behind him. At the edge of the yard, the fence gate was open and he could hear a car racing down the alley.
Garrett sprinted across the grass and into the alley. He could see the red of tail lights at the far end of block. He raised his Glock and his finger tensed, but he didn't fire. He didn't know what else was at the end of the block and knew better than to send a round into an environment like that.
Ty Garrett lowered his weapon and felt his heart pounding against his chest. He was suddenly aware that he was drenched in sweat. His ballistic vest felt like it weighed a ton. The lights from his patrol car danced in the sky above the house but didn't reach the alley.
He stood in the quiet of the alley's darkness, wondering what in the hell had just happened.CHAPTER 2
Officer Ray Zielinski pulled into the convenience store at Sprague and Freya. Another six hours of his shift remained and without coffee, it was going to be brutal. Hell, with coffee it would still be brutal.
He had to stop working so much extra duty, he told himself, but knew it was a fruitless admonition. He needed the money, plain and simple. Two divorces, three kids, and always living on the edge of what his income could support had brought him to this point. Six months ago, he decided he had to get a handle on it, so he sold the house that he had somehow miraculously kept in the last divorce and moved into a small apartment. He lived frugally, and that made a difference, but it wasn't like he could force either ex-wife or the kids to do the same. So, he worked the extra duty gigs, providing police presence at banks, stores, and special events. The pay was good, but the hours were ... well, they were brutal.
Zielinski put the car in park and started to roll up the windows when heard the sound of pops in the distance. His first thought was fireworks. They were illegal in Spokane but still inescapable around the Fourth of July. By August, though, most people were over them, even the kids.
"Not fireworks," Zielinski muttered. He recognized the sounds now for what they were. Gunshots.
Irritated, he put the car into drive and rolled the windows back down. Coffee would have to wait. He made his best guess as to the origin of the shots and drove in that direction. He didn't bother with his lights or siren. It wasn't like gunshots in East Central were an everyday event, but it wasn't necessarily uncommon, either. Especially during the summer months.
He drove, listening and knowing what was coming next. It only took another thirty seconds.
"Charlie units, I have a report of shots fired in the East Central area," the dispatcher broadcasted. "Two separate complainants."
"East Central, huh?" Zielinski shook his head. "Way to narrow it down."
A second later, a thought struck him. He reached for the mic, but before he could, the dispatcher came back on.
"Charlie-three-sixteen, a status check?"
Radio silence followed.
"Charlie-three-sixteen, what's your status?"
"Shit!" Zielinski punched the accelerator. His patrol car lurched forward, the engine answering with a throaty roar. Out of habit, he reached down and hit his lights and siren and activated his dash camera, all in one quick motion. Random shots didn't merit an emergency response. An officer in danger did.
He raced southbound. Traffic pulled to the side of the road as he approached. He hooked a hard right and made a beeline for Underhill Park. As he approached, he slowed slightly, trying to envision which way Garrett's traffic stop might be oriented. He didn't want to pull onto the street into the line of fire if this was where the shots came from.
Before he could decide, he ran out of street and turned onto the road that ran along the park. He immediately saw a police cruiser with its overhead lights engaged, its headlights illuminating a Chrysler.
Zielinski killed the siren as he screeched to an abrupt stop to the right of the other patrol car. His left hand found the spotlight and flicked it on, further bathing the Chrysler in a curtain of brightness. With his other hand, he keyed his mic.
"Charlie-three-twelve, on scene with Sixteen."
"Copy, Twelve. Advise on further units."
Zielinski popped open his door. His eyes swept the scene, immediately spotting the shattered windows and bullet holes in Garrett's patrol car.
"Twelve, keep them coming. This is where the shots came from."
He dropped the mic and exited his car, drawing his Glock and using his door as cover. "Ty?" he called out.
Zielinski clenched his jaw. He glanced up at the suspect vehicle, scanning for suspects, both inside and around the car. He saw none, but the driver's door stood open.
Maybe the guy rabbited, he thought. Threw shots and ran.
Zielinski felt a sinking sense of dismay. If the suspect fired on Garrett, was he ...?
Keeping low, Zielinski quickly moved to the trunk of Garrett's patrol car. He peeked around the driver's side, his dread heightening. An officer down was every cop's worst nightmare. The driver's seat and the nearby ground was empty, except for shattered safety glass scattered on the pavement.
He moved up to the driver's door, his eyes still scanning. Then he saw the still form crumpled on the ground by the suspect vehicle. Motionless. Even at this distance, Zielinski could see the bright red smear of blood against the pale white skin.
He reached for his portable radio and brought it to his lips. "Charlie-three-twel —" he began, but the screech of feedback from being too close to Garrett's patrol car radio interrupted and overwhelmed him.
"Charlie-three-twelve, say again."
Zielinski flicked off his portable and picked up Garrett's patrol car mic from its hook. "Three-twelve," he said. "Suspect down. Start medics."
"Copy. And Charlie-three-sixteen?"
"No sign of him yet."
Zielinski heard the uptick in tension in the dispatcher's voice. He tuned her out as she began sending additional units. It was unnecessary. Any police officer within driving distance would be coming now, lights and siren. One of their own was in danger.
"Ty!" Zielinski called out again. He listened, but the only sounds he heard were the whirring and clacking of the patrol car's rotator lights, a dog barking half a block away, and sirens in the distance.
He took a deep breath and let it out. Then he raised his pistol toward the suspect vehicle and advanced. The smart thing to do was to keep the car covered while he waited for back up. With a couple more officers, they could safely clear the vehicle. However, he couldn't wait. He had to find Garrett.
The man lay face down near the rear tire on the driver's side of the car, a bloody red hole in his upper back. Keeping his gun trained on the car, Zielinski knelt and touched his throat to check for a pulse. His own heart was pounding so hard, it took him a moment to discern that the man was dead. Protocol said to cuff him anyway, but Zielinski rejected the idea. Instead, he stood and swept his aim throughout the car, looking for any other suspects.
He decided that Garrett must be in foot pursuit with a second suspect, somewhere in the vicinity. He reached for his portable radio to direct units into a perimeter position, but his hand froze.
Officer Ty Garrett walked out of a house directly across the street and headed toward him. He appeared uninjured, his gait confident.
"Ty!" Zielinski shouted.
Garrett raised his hand in reply.
"Are you okay?"
Garrett flashed four fingers at him.
Zielinski felt a temporary wave of relief. He reached again for his radio, turning it back on before saying, "Three-twelve, have units slow their response. Sixteen is with me, and he's fine."
The dispatcher copied. A second later, a couple of the distant sirens suddenly muted, while others remained.
As Garrett approached, Zielinski could see light reflecting off the sheen of sweat that coated Garrett's dark skin.
"Are you okay?" he asked again.
Garrett nodded as he tugged down on his ballistic vest. "Yeah. I'm good."
"Any suspects outstanding?"
Garrett shook his head, then stopped and shrugged. "A car, but it's long gone."
Zielinski raised his radio, preparing to broadcast. "You got a description?"
"Red tail lights," Garrett said, his tone dejected.
Zielinski lowered the radio. "What happened?"(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Charlie-316"
Copyright © 2019 Colin Conway and Frank Scalise.
Excerpted by permission of Down & Out Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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