Monthly Archives: April 2006

Taxi Driver

Thursday night at around 2:30am 53-year-old cab driver Robbi “Doc” Lambert picked up two passengers in Tacoma’s Hilltop area on South 8th and State. What happened next isn’t completely known, but one of the passengers shot Doc in the head.

Despite his injury, he was able to call dispatch and report what happened. This probably saved his life. He was transported to St. Joseph’s Hospital and still is listed in serious condition.

The description and identity of the attackers is unknown. Unfortunately the time and place of the attack doesn’t yield a large amount of witnesses.

Being a cab driver is one the the nation’s most dangerous jobs. A cab driver in Tacoma makes something between $200-$400 a night. This isn’t enough for anyone with a brain to shoot someone. Unfortunately no one needs to pass an intelligence test to shoot a gun. Despite the danger people still do the job. And the job is a social one. The more friendly you are the more money you can make. Also the more you let down your guard. There are cab companies that put bulletproof glass between the back and front seats. But that doesn’t do a lot of good if they don’t armor the seats themselves or the windows of the cab. All of which costs enough money that it’s not really worth it to the cab company.

It’s hard to say what, if anything, could stop the common street criminal from these acts of senseless violence. I don’t take a cab too often but when I do, I tip big. They’re one of the only people you tip who are taking any genuine risks. In some ways they’re like police officers or firefighters. They perform a public service for far less than they should and take risks the rest of us won’t do and wouldn’t want to.

Here’s hoping Doc makes a full recovery and those repsonsible are brought to justice.

Life on the the East Side

I’ll be writing about the cab driver who got shot last night later, but in the meantime read this article by the News Tribune. It’s a rare and well-written piece on what life in Tacoma’s most violent side of town is like.

11th Homicide of 2006 and What Goes Unreported

Two days ago 55 year old Dien Kien Huynh died of injuries sustained when a group of three African American youths beat and robbed him as he was returning home from work.
This, according to the Tacoma News Tribune is the eleventh homicide of the year for the city of Tacoma. The fact that two of those homicides were not even reported in the media is funny to me but not really all  that surprising. After working in police records it becomes something of a mystery how the media decides what they want to put in the paper and what they don’t. The things that go unreported are frequently the worst things.
I used to type up the Child Protective Services reports. There were usually enough of them that I’d spend one day a month doing just those. That works out to something like one or two a day really. But you won’t read anywhere about the fifteen year old girl who was taken from her father’s lakeside cabin because he was whoring her out to neighbors to pay his mortgage. Or the three year old they found sleeping on a ‘pillow’ that was actually a large bag of cocaine. These aren’t things I made up. Those are two reports I actually wrote up.
On the days when I wrote up the CPS reports I would come home late and drunk. Sometimes I wouldn’t work the next day. It’s the one part of the job I don’t miss even a little. When I think about how much typing up those reports bothered me, I try  not to think about how much it must bother the cops who have to deal with that stuff.
People think shows like CSI are hard hitting or dark. They aren’t. And really I’m glad they aren’t.


Homicide Number Eight of 2006

So I tried to take my vacation early. Things have been fairly quiet crime-wise lately. At least in Tacoma’s city limits. But Monday morning around 2:00am that changed in the 5600 block of South Junett when the longtime boyfriend of Desaundra Dixon shot her once in the chest, killing her. Desaundra was a mother of five, ages 4 to 19. One of her sons called 9-1-1. Her boyfriend waited for the cops and initially was willing to talk to them. Then he asked for a lawyer. 

There was no history of domestic violence between the couple. The motive was unclear, but I figure it’s safe to say she did something that upset the guy. The problem with domestic violence is that it is both largely unreported and largely exaggerated. In Washington State, domestic violence laws require responding officers to arrest somebody even if no crime was committed. I suppose the idea here is to get potentially dangerous people away from each other, but it doesn’t really work. A guy arrested on a domestic violence charge can be out in a matter of hours and if you think he was upset with the woman before, imagine how he feels after being locked up for a few hours. Even the completely innocent aren’t happy after spending the evening locked in a cage.

Then there are restraining orders. These are supposed to protect people, but really making it illegal to contact someone isn’t going to save anyone. Last time I checked it was illegal to murder people too, but it still happens.

And regardless of what sort of precautions society attempts to take to prevent domestic violence, it’s still going to happen. Desaundra Dixon is the latest but far from the last victim of domestic violence. The only real solution is to choose who you live with carefully.

One final note, I’m leaving town this Friday and will be gone for a week. Could you people of Tacoma do me a personal favor and wait to kill people until I get back? Thanks.-Jack