It was my second week of field training when I got my first crime scene assigned to me. At roll call, myself and my partner were told to immediately fall out and respond to the housing project on e163 street. There were numerous buildings in the complex, each in the 10-14 story range for height. One of the first things I had noticed when I had the post earlier in the week were the number of people middle aged and younger walking with limps, canes and in wheel chairs. I mentioned my observation to a cop with a little more time on then me, and he suggested it had to do with the large number of shootings in the precinct. It was as good an answer as any, but it didn't make me feel all that much better.
When we arrived at the location, there must have been at least a dozen patrol cars and unmarks parked outside. Some were from the precinct, and least two were from the PSA (think a police precinct that just covers housing locations - we overlapped) and the unmarks were probably the detectives. It was soon apparent that this was more then "just some crime scene".
Walking up four flights of stairs is never fun, but I learned to have an aversion to elevators in public housing from the first time I stepped in one - the overwhelming stench of marinating urine in a confined, unventilated metal box is far from pleasant. I'm not saying the stairs smelled much better (they had the added obstacle of dog feces liberally strewn about) but at least the air had movement to it.
Stepping out on the fourth floor, we immediately spotted our destination. Just across from the stairs and to the right was an open doorway. Activity was apparently going on inside the apartment and bosses were milling around outside of it. Looking closely, we could see a body laid out in the doorway and some blood splatter on the door.
"Lou! The rooks are here!" It was a cop from the precinct who made the announcement, drawing the attention of the Lieutenant that had control of the scene.
"Right. Put yourselves 84 at this location. You're assigned to preserve the crime scene. No one comes onto this floor unless they have police business. Keep away the gawkers, even if they are our own. I don't care if they have eagles on their shoulders, unless they are part of the investigative team keep them away. Can you handle that?"
Do you think we were going to question the Lou's orders? Of course we said we could handle it. We did. Kinda. We didn't keep anyone away that was a Captain or higher, not that we could, but we kept the rank and file at bay, as well as the inquisitive residents. Heck, we even started up a conversation with two crime scene detectives that were waiting on the precinct detectives to wrap up so they could do their work. Somehow, that conversation caused us more harm then good.
See, as the four of use were chatting, a middle aged male black in a dark brown suit came down the hall from the elevator. He looked like a detective and he made a beeline to the apartment door, the one with the victim lying in it, shot twice in the head, blood and brain matter covering the floor. Heck, he nonchalantly stepped over the body and introduced himself to one of the detectives working the scene. He was the victim's older brother.
That's about the biggest f-up one can do at a crime scene. We did it. When the pissed off detective came out of the apartment to yell at us, one of the crime scene detectives stated that he let the brother past us so he could ID the victim. It was a good answer, and it shut the detective up, but he knew it was bullshit. My training sergeant told me it was bullshit too when I got back to command, but also stressed the importance of always having an answer. But that was later.
We weren't done yet at the crime scene. The precinct detectives were taking the victim's brother back to the Station House to get more info. Crime Scene was now in charge of the crime scene, and they went to work collecting evidence. Which was all fine until I heard my name called from inside the apartment.
I approached the door, doing my best not to look at the body, blood and brains right in front of me.
"Yeah?" I answered, not sure why I summoned.
"Step in. You're vouchering the evidence. It's the least you can do." It was the detective that covered for us. Now it was time to pay him back.
"Kid. Do yourself a favor and look at him. He doesn't care anymore. Look and get it out of your system. You have a whole career of this and more waiting for you."
So I did. I looked at the young black male. Mid 20's, shot twice in the front of his head, right in the forehead. The blood had started to thicken on the floor. Bits of brain matter could be seen in the blood. Raspberry jam. Raspberry jam with bits of raspberry. That what the victim was lying in. It felt better then blood and brains. It looked better too.
"You good? Excellent. Come on in. Don't worry about stepping in the blood, it's kinda hard to miss at this point. Here's the shit you'll be typing vouchers for back at the station house."
I stepped in the raspberry jam.