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True Police Stories

"Courage is the ability to move; when all around you are frozen in fear
and no one would blame you if you did nothing at all." Capt. Click. Phx. PD

My Name is Chuck Stadler

Taken from the book Think About it... for your reading convenience

Close friends calls me ď4848.Ē Itís my ID number. My mother has been LDS since she was ten years old. My Dad was not a member. Us kids grew up in the Church and one by one I watched my three older brothers leave the Church at about age seventeen. I later watched my younger brother leave the Church as well. My two older sisters stayed with the Church throughout their lives. Since then, two of my brothers have returned to the Church and are now active members. I was the only family member to go on a mission for the Church. I went to Ireland. It was not easy, but it helped me build a strong testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am very grateful for that experience in my life. When I returned, I was able to baptize my dad into the Church. Later I was able to be sealed to my parents for time and all eternity in the Arizona Temple. When I was a teen, I received a Patriarchal Blessing. The blessing stated that I would die in old age if I stayed close to the Lord. It also said I would be called to serve in higher positions in the Church as long as I again stayed close to the Lord and remained faithful and worthy. Iíve been a member of three bishoprics since that blessing and I now serve as a member of the Stake High Council for the Mesa Maricopa Stake.

Iím a long way from perfect and I feel Iíve made a lot of mistakes in my life, but I always try to do the right thing. Through lifeís experiences, Iíve come to know we do have a loving Father in Heaven. Among the many police calls Iíve been involved in throughout my career, Iíve also been involved in three shootings. They bother me very much. Every time I have been called to a church calling, I have felt to confess them before the Bishop or Stake President before I accept the calling. I wish they never happened. They are hard for me to talk about even now.

Not too long after I came back from my mission, I went to work for St. Louis Police Department. I had been working the street for a couple of years before I became involved in my first shooting. During this particular shift, Ken and I were driving through our beat and we noticed two men arguing in a rubble filled lot. We stopped to check it out. The two men ended up being brothers. Before we actually made contact, one brother left to go get a loaded shotgun. The mother of the two men told me, ďIf he comes back out with the shotgun, donít worry, itís not loaded.Ē

Telling us the gun was unloaded was no feeling of safety. He could merely check it and reload it. Suddenly he came out of the house carrying the shotgun. He was angry and he was coming at us. I yelled, ďPolice, drop the gunĒ but he continued to walk toward us. As he raised the shotgun and aimed at me, I immediately shot at him and I heard Ken shoot at almost the same time. The family was yelling at us and begging us not to kill him. We were concerned about him killing us, but we did try not to kill him. When the suspect saw Ken, he turned and tried to shoot Ken. It was then that I stood up and shot him. I noticed that he crumpled slightly. I released the pressure on my trigger for another shot and ran up to him shouting to Ken, ďDonít shoot, he dropped the shotgun!Ē

He was bleeding from his right arm, just above his elbow. The bullet had cut an artery. Every time his heart beat, blood spurt several feet away. I knew if I didnít stop it, he would bleed to death before help could arrive. So with my hand, I reached and pinched off the artery. As I stopped the bleeding and we were waiting for the ambulance, he told me he didnít know that his mother had unloaded the shotgun. He said he thought it had misfired at me and so tried to shoot Ken, just as I shot him. Ultimately he recovered and he later told people I knew that he was going to find me and kill me. Well, so far, he hasnít. I never had any animosity toward him. In fact, I felt sorry for him and Iím glad he didnít die.

The shooting that bothers me the most happened when I was stationed at Seventh District. Ron and I got a call of a robbery in progress. As we heard the address we realized that we were on that same block. We parked, got out and ran to the front of the beauty shop. The robbery was called in while the robber was still there. As I was going in the front door, my partner and another officer got to the front of the building. This was a waiting room area. It had a long hallway leading from the front door to the middle of the building. There was a soda machine on the other side of a short partition wall. When I entered the shop I had my revolver out. When the women inside saw me, they began yelling, ďWeíre saved, the police are here!Ē

Suddenly I saw a young male come out of the back room through the swinging doors to my right. He had a sawed off shotgun in his right hand and a brown paper bag in his left. I pointed my revolver at him and ordered him to drop the gun. Because of the logistics of the hallway and the soda machine, I felt there were too many avenues of attack for the suspect to take, so I squatted down and began backing out of the hallway. At the door, I waited quietly while looking for the guy with the gun. I didnít wait long before I saw him crouched at the end of the hall. He was slowly coming around the end of the wall. The shotgun was in both hands now and it was pointed at the floor. Soon I saw his shoulder, then his right ear and then his right eye. He saw me as well and started raising the shotgun at me. I had already given him a warning to drop the gun and he failed to do so.

His intent was obvious now. He was going to try and kill me.
So I shot him as fast as I could until he dropped the shotgun. I fired four times.

He dropped the shotgun as he fell face forward. When I stopped shooting, I walked up to him and removed the shotgun from his reach and checked him for any further weapons. In looking at him I could tell he was just a kid. The women came from the back room and surrounded him in a semi- circle. The kid was still alive but didnít talk as he lay on the floor.

              Some of the women urged me to kill him when they saw he wasnít dead.
                                        As he lay there, the kid looked at me.
                           With my gun still hanging from my hand,
                                                  I looked at him and after a moment I replied,
                                                                       ďI think I already have.Ē

We called for medical help but before they got there, he was dead. The kid was only fifteen years old. That not being enough, it was just a few months later that I found myself involved in my third shooting. It began as a fight between two men. One was beating the other with a tire iron. I ran up, grabbed hold of the tire iron and began wrestling it away from him. He broke free and ran off. I looked at the guy on the sidewalk. He wasnít moving. Both nostrils were closed with blood. His mouth was open and inside, it looked like a lake of blood. I was sure he was dead. A passer-by began giving first aid and I started running after the killer.

He was out running me and I lost him in a residential yard. He still had the tire iron and as I searched the yard, I expected an ambush at any moment. Then I saw him head through the back yard toward the back gate. The yard was dark and I ran after him. I felt I was chasing a murderer who still had the murder weapon with him. Up ahead was a crowd of people and an open alley. I decided that if he turned in the alley I would not shoot him because he was probably just trying to get away. However, if he turned and headed back into the crowd, he could grab a hostage and use the tire iron on them. I decided that if he turned toward the crowd, still carrying the tire iron, I would shoot him.

                       He turned toward the crowd. ...I knew it was now or never.
                                                    ...He fell as my last bullet hit the wall

I ran toward him but he never moved. He just laid there. I rolled him over on his back. We looked at each other and he said, ďYou shot me man! Why did you shoot me?Ē I told him to lie still and I called for medical help but those turned out to be some of the last words he ever said.

In looking back, Iíve asked myself, ďWhy? Why me?Ē I never wanted to kill anyone! Law enforcement is a dangerous profession. Cops get killed all the time and I have no desire to be among the fallen. But as odd as it may sound to you, throughout my career, I havenít been overly concerned with dying in the line of duty. In my patriarchal blessing, I was told I would live to an old age if I stayed close to the Lord. I believe that this is the true church of Jesus Christ and I believe in the priesthood and in the power of the priesthood. Thatís why I believe in the Patriarchal Blessing I got when I was fifteen. I believe that blessing came from our Heavenly Father. I believe that a blessing is connected to being faithful and living the commandments of God. There are times when I wonder if I am living a good enough life to have the Lordís protection, but my faith is strong and I try to do what is right. I firmly believe that I will live to an old age, but the blessing didnít say I wonít be maimed or injured.

          I believe that bad people are allowed by God to do bad things.
                  I believe God gave us the freedom to choose good or evil for ourselves.

I find comfort in the scriptures. Sometimes I try to see if I did the right thing. I know Moses killed an Egyptian for beating an Israelite and Moses was a prophet of God. Ammon cut the arms off of thieves when they tried to kill him while he was defending the Kingís sheep. He also slew others in the same band with rocks from his sling. Ammon was a prophet. David killed Goliath and was given the power from God to do so. And so did Nephi, when he killed Labon. Legally and tactfully, I did the right thing and given the same circumstances I would have to do the same things again, but I still wish they never happened. I have hope through the scriptures that I wonít be condemned for what I did as a St. Louis police officer.

I would like to tell you one more police story. A story about a young LDS man. This story took place a few years ago in an Auto Zone. Itís about a desperate young man who made a couple of bad decisions. I was one of the officers that was there. The call came out over the air as an armed robbery in progress. I was a field training officer and my recruit was Larry. He was a five year veteran from NYPD. The robber was being chased by police officers and he ended up inside the Auto Zone.

When Larry and I and other officers went into the Auto Zone, I looked toward the rear of the store and saw the suspect. Then I saw him raise a semi-auto pistol and put it to his head. He told us to stay back or he would kill himself. We immediately positioned ourselves around him. We were maybe ten yards away. For over an hour, we tried to get him to drop the weapon. The guy was very upset and distraught. He began asking us what religion we were. The first three officers he asked were Catholic. He stopped after his third time. As he talked to us I got the feeling he was LDS. Dan was beside me and he got the same feeling. We talked and felt we might have a better chance at reaching him. The young manís name was Bill. He was twenty-three.

              He said he needed the money for a truck payment.
                                So for a few hundred dollars, he risked years of freedom.

He told us we need not fear him and that he wouldnít hurt us. He told us about a time when he and a friend were out in the desert and he shot a bird from a tree and how it made him cry. He said he couldnít shoot us because he couldnít even shoot a bird again. He told us he was more afraid of going to jail than he was of dying. He was afraid he was going to have to spend the rest of his life in prison. We told him he wouldnít. We talked about the Savior, forgiveness and the Plan of Salvation. We talked about Heavenly Fatherís love for him and how his friends loved him. We told him that his mother loved him and we told him we cared, and that he was our brother. He asked for a can of pop, and he asked if he could call his mother.

(Dan, #4525)
The feeling just came to both of us that this guy was LDS so Chuck asked him if he was. He said he was and we told him we were LDS too. We started talking about right and wrong choices. I started talking about my bishop and about the things he had learned in primary. He talked about his bishop too. We talked about Scouts. He said he liked to go camping. I told him I was a scout master. We talked about Sunday School and then he asked if he could speak to his mom. He asked several times for a cell-phone so he could call her but he wasnít given one because the Lieutenant in charge was afraid he would use it to say goodbye, and then shoot himself. Personally, I donít think he would have. I think he just wanted to talk to his mom.

Iím a pretty poker faced guy. Emotion doesnít show through very easy. But now, it was hard for me to keep my emotions from showing through. My trigger finger had become numb on the first joint because I had been putting pressure on the trigger for over an hour and a half. He moved around while talking and stretching. When he did, the muzzle of his gun pointed at me at least twice. I could have legally shot him on several occasions, but morally, I just couldnít shoot him. I was afraid if any of us shot, it would cause an instant chain reaction among the seven officers there and all seven of us would have shot. He wouldnít have stood a chance.

           So I waited and prayed. I didnít want to kill this young man.
                                     I would try almost anything to save him.
                            He looked at me and I saw tears well up in his eyes.
                                     When they did, he dropped his head a little. As I stood there,
                                                     sighting down my weapon at him,
                                          I was saying in my mind, ďDonít make us kill you!Ē

Suddenly we were ordered out of the building. We were being replaced by the men in black. The SWAT team. As they were coming in and we were going out, I was hoping he would give up. Just as I got out of the front door, I heard a shot. I stopped and waited. I knew in my heart what had happened. I watched as they brought him out of the store. When I saw him, I was sure he wouldnít make it. I felt like a failure. I wanted to be alone for awhile. I wasnít able to convince him this wasnít a good solution for a bad choice. His wrong choices will have eternal consequences, but I know he will be judged by a loving Heavenly Father.

I believe in guidance and direction from the spirit of the Lord. Iíve had times in my life I was directed by the Holy Ghost. I have a good friend who went through a period in his life where he was making some bad decisions. A lot of bad decisions. They were serious and they were astray from his normal ways. I was prompted several times to go tell him it was time to come back. Come back to what he knew was right. Finally one day I had the courage to tell him what I felt to tell him. He tells me it made a big difference in his life. He reminds me often how grateful he is that I followed the prompting of the Lord and came to him that day. I know I was prompted by the Holy Ghost to talk to him. Iím so very grateful that I had the faith to listen to the Spirit that time and to follow through. (Authors note: That someone, ...was me.)

I read and learn from the scriptures. Iíve always believed the Bible was a book of sacred scriptures. Iíve read the Book of Mormon and I have prayed to God and found out itís a scripture brought forth by a latter day prophet. I know Jesus is the Christ. I know He died for our sins. I know if I do my part to follow the commandments I can return to Heavenly Father with my family. I know my life has been saved many times. I know there is a latter day prophet today and that God has not left us alone. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that he restored the Lordís true church here upon the earth.

    Donít believe simply because of our words in this book. Pray and ask your God,
                 our God, our Father in Heaven, and He will whisper the truth to your heart.

                                                      Officer (&RM) Charles E. Stadler Badge #4848


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Thank you and God bless,


"Think About it..." mailed to your home for only $14.95   S&H included

Read "Think About it..." Online Warrior Stories  | Excerpts | News Articles | Poems
Rear Cover | Reviews | About the Book | About the Author | Order | E-Mail  |  Home

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P.O. Box 7899   Mesa, AZ 85216-7899
A 317 page full size book, mailed to your home for only $14.95   S&H included