Medrano risked a glance to where the suspect slumped against the door in the backseat. He was at best semiconscious, filthy, still bleeding from where his head had hit the pavement. "We don't, sir. But the paramedics are here. To be safe--"
Glitsky cut Medrano off. "He's just drunk. I want him in homicide. You bring him up. That's the end of this discussion."
Petrie and Medrano looked at one another and said nothing. They were too intimidated to do anything but nod, get the man back into the car and start the drive down to the Hall of Justice.
Ridley Banks bit his tongue. Glitsky was putting out the word that he intended to let this suspect get all the way into withdrawal before he would acknowledge any problem. This would ensure that the man endured at least a little of what was purportedly the worst known hell on earth, and the orders struck Ridley as gratuitously cruel. More, they weren't smart. Neither was the earlier door-opening incident. He knew that if the suspect was in withdrawal from heroin, the paramedics and people at County could set him up in short order. Then the agony of withdrawal could be mitigated. They'd get a better statement from a set-up suspect at San Francisco General Hospital than they ever could from a sick, sweating junkie in withdrawal at the Hall of Justice. If he was merely drunk, he could be in a cell at the jail by midmorning. Either way, they would have a clean interrogation within a reasonable period of time. Glitsky's orders wouldn't accomplish anything good.
As he watched the squad car backing out of Maiden Lane, Ridley wondered what else might be going on. He and Abe had both known Elaine Wager, worked with her, when she'd been a high-profile rising young star with the district attorney's office. Ridley, himself, had found his guts more than ordinarily roiling at the scene when he realized the woman's identity. She was one of their own, part not only of the law enforcement but also of the African-American community. Even to Ridley, whose job was homicide, on some level it hurt.
Abe's reaction, though, seemed a long march beyond hurt. Ridley had come to know most of his lieutenant's moods, which generally ran the gamut from grumpy to glum, but he'd never before seen him as he was tonight--in a clear and quiet unreasonable rage, breaking his own sacred rules about prisoners and regulations.
Walking back to where the body lay, the knot of people bunched in the mouth of the alley, Ridley decided to risk a question. "You all right, Abe?"
The lieutenant abruptly stopped walking. His nostrils flared under piercing eyes--Ridley thought of a panicked horse. Abe let out a long breath, took in another one, looked down toward the body. "Yeah, sure," he said. "Why not?" A pause. "Fucking peachy."
Abe made it a point to avoid vulgarity. He'd even lectured his inspectors, decrying their casual use of profanity. His troops had been known to make fun of him for it behind his back. So Ridley was surprised, and his face must have shown it. The lieutenant's eyes narrowed. "You got a problem, Ridley?"
"No, sir," he replied. Whatever it was, it was serious. "No problem at all."
Reprinted from The Hearing by John Lescroart by permission of Dutton, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright © 2001 by John Lescroart. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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