Dragnet

Season 3 Episode 12

Internal Affairs - DR-20

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Aired Thursday 9:30 PM Dec 12, 1968 on NBC

Episode Recap

It was early morning Thursday, October 10th. It was cool in Los Angeles. We were working the day watch out of Internal Affairs Division. The boss is Captain Bradley. My partner is Bill Gannon. My name is Friday.

When any member of the Los Angeles department of Police Department is accused of misconduct, it is the job of Internal Affairs Division to conduct an investigation. Friday and Gannon checked in with the acting Watch Commander of the Sunset Division. An actuation had come from a man in custody at the division. His name is John Meadows and he's charging the arresting officer with police brutality.

The division captain is off sick and Lt. Moore is acting Watch Commander. Friday and Gannon reported to him. They listen to his opinion of officer Hillier and his desire for the outcome of the investigation. If the officer is guilty, he wants to understand what went wrong, as the officer is in the top 10%. He's been a model officer and is up for the medal of valor. His army record reads as good as his police one. He's a college man, with two years and wife.

The Lt wonders did the force fail the officer, has the Lt. failed the officer, did the selection process fail, what would make a good officer fail, etc. Gannon and Friday say this is one of the reasons they are here.

Friday and Gannon will be using the Watch Commander's office for their interviews.

09:30: Gannon picks up the complainant's statement and the arrest report. Friday has the accused criminal, John Meadows, brought to the interview room.

John Meadows arrives and introductions occur all the way around. Friday and Gannon explain the purpose of the interview and for Internal Affairs. Mr. Meadows questions the fairness of cops investigating other cops, but in the end reserves judgment, when he hears he can still bring his own legal action against the officer.

His full name is John Edwards Meadows Jr. He's been arrested four times before starting at the age of 12, in 1951 (making him around 30 now). He likes ball games and climbed a fence to get into one without paying. When Gannon heard these earlier arrests are as a juvenile, he changed the subject to the night in question.

The incident in question occurred earlier today (Oct 10) around 1:47 AM at 221 Garland Street. He's a buyer for men's clothing at a department store. Several of his friends (3 couples) were unwinding after getting home from work. His neighbor calls the police, as they have been too noisy and -- after all -- it is almost 2 AM.

Mr. Meadows begins his story, which later we learn has his own opinion and slant to it. An example is he feels Ted isn't drunk, but the breath test shows he's at .21% (over double the legal limit of the time). Meadows admit he made some mistakes and may have given the officer reason for concern. He also says the officer hit him with a fist and caused him to go down, when everyone else says it was the back of the officer's hand. His pants aren't cut nor do they have grass stains on them and later on we discover no one else reports he went down.

10:10 AM: Friday speaks with the four witnesses, who will be in after work. (There are six witnesses in total. Four are at work and two of them are in jail (Meadows and Ted the drunk).

Friday and Gannon decide to talk to the backup officers, who have been hanging around since their shift ended. The back up team is 1-Adam 12 (another TV series), who are Reed and Malloy. Malloy is the senior member with seven years on the job. Reed is still in his probationary period. Gannon thinks the new officers are getting younger all the time. Friday replies it might be they are getting older.

Gannon starts the introductions. Reed asks what can happen, as well as how the process works. Friday and Gannon explains it to him and us. We learn what might happen to Officer Hillier. The backup team arrived after the incident and they have no firsthand knowledge of what occurred. We discover the 502 suspect (Ted) blew a .21 on the blood alcohol meter and it was a good arrest.

10:30 AM: Friday and Gannon interview Hillier's partner, Officer Tom Pollack, in the division coffee room.

11:00 AM: The jailers brought the 502 suspect, Ted Nichols, to the Watch Commander's office. Hr. Nichols is the manager of the Men's Sportswear Department at the same store the other individuals work. Technically free to go as he met bail, he agreed to talk to them.

Ted admits he drinks too much, has a drinking problem, and can't remember much of the events. The party started around 21:00 on the 9th, about 4.5 to 4 3/4 hours before the police got the report and came. He admits he's scared of cops, even though he's never been arrested. His upbringing says arrested individuals are bums. He's no ordinary bum, though, he's a drunken bum.

He can't remember much beyond seeing the Black & White police car pull up behind him and stepping on the gas. He remembers getting helped out of his car, arriving at the police station, blowing into some machine, and now talking to them.

Gannon asks if he remembers more like someone hitting another person. He says no and it can't be him as he couldn't have found the sidewalk. Gannon and Friday explain what people are saying and Ted's response is to say he believes his friend, as in 10 year of knowing him he never heard John tell a lie.

11:40 AM: Officer Edward W. Hillier reported to Friday and Gannon. He's been put on station duty until IAD completes their investigation. His report matches those of his partner and the backup team. Friday and Gannon have him go over it verbally.

His account differs from that of Mr. Meadows. While Mr. Meadows says the officer hit him with a fist, which took him down. Officer Hillier says he hit him with the back of his hand after having had his shirt torn, being grabbed at, called a pig, and his wife called a pig.

Friday and Officer Hillier discuss what happened and why he hit Mr. Meadows with his hand. Friday goes off into one of his well known speeches about being a police officer. Hillier gets a good point in, at the end, though. Can't the people see there are two sides, though?

12:00 Noon: Mrs. Hillier asks to speak to Friday and Gannon. She's scared of what will happen to her husband, as the force is his life. She brings in his shirt, even though he asked her not to as it won't make a difference. It's torn just as he described. Friday explains they aren't questioning his truthfulness. She goes on to explain the force is his whole life, his entire life.

18:30: They begin interviewing the last four witnesses; those who were in the apartment and also work at the department store. The first witness says there was no name calling and no reason existed to strike John Meadows.

The next witness was a clerk, who remembers naming calling. She says Johnny becomes a real pain when he gets tanked. She reports Johnny called the officer a pig and his wife, too. She feels the Officer was complete justified in striking Johnny.

The third witness reports the officer struck Johnny because he was reaching for the badge. She also says she heard fabric ripping on the Officer's shirt.

The fourth and final witness gives the same details as the second witness. She sums it up saying regardless of what someone calls a police officer it doesn't give him the right to hit the other person.

20:37: Friday and Gannon concluded their fact finding part, will write it up tomorrow, and submit it to the Captain for processing.

The Lt. stops them as they are leaving and asks Friday what he thinks. Friday says he thinks the department will set him down, but he's not sure how hard.

The Lt asks for the bottom line and Gannon replies they didn't come up with the answer he wants (referring to the questions the Lt. raised in the morning).

The story ends with Friday remembering what Chief Parker said. "We'll always have cases like this because we have one big problem in selecting police officers ... we have to recruit from the human race."

Epilogue:

On October 20th, John Meadows pleaded guilty in Municipal Court, City of Los Angeles, to the charges of interfering with a police officer and resisting arrest, both misdemeanor offenses. On that same day, the Chief of Police of the City of Los Angeles made a decision in the matter of Officer Edward Hillier.

The court gave John Meadows a 30 day sentence in the Los Angeles Jail but suspended it, as it was his first offense.

The accused police officer Edward Hillier waved his right to a hearing by board of his superior officers. The judgment of the Chief of Police was the officer used excessive force in arresting John Meadows. The Chief suspended him from duty for 30 days without pay or benefits.

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