If you think I was crazy to taunt this upset state trooper under these circumstances I am incline to agree with you. To fully paint this picture, two other state troopers had delivered me to him on a deserted back dirt road with nothing in sight but deep woods. The guy who showed up was big and muscular, wearing a sweat stained t-shirt and his personal gun. I knew it was his personal gun because I had lived in Florida and knew the state cops could only carry revolvers. He was also driving his own car, so he appeared to be off duty. From the moment I saw his face and read his body language I knew he was upset with me. Before he punched me in the stomach I was terrified.Even though I had already lived an eventful life, I was only eighteen years old. I was still a kid. A very scared kid.
So why would I respond to his first punch by insulting the trooper's shooting skills? The simple answer is that I am, and have always been a smart ass with a quick wit. Earlier that day this guy had tried very hard to shoot me in the back because I ran from him. He came so close to hitting me that I felt two of his bullets pass. One of his bullets barely missed my head. He tried to kill me earlier and I believed he was about to finish the job now. So now I was mad at him and fought back the only way I could. With a clever insult. At least I thought it was clever until he beat me into unconsciousness.
Responding with a slashing comment is something I do without thinking. I've always responded in anger with sharp words. My wife loves me, but hates this part of me. Few people like this part of me. It often gets me into trouble. This cop's plan was to beat me, which is why he had me delivered to such an isolated place, so the circumstances were bad no matter what I said. I might have gotten less of a beating had I kept my mouth shut, and perhaps none at all had I acted like the scared kid that I was. But through the majority of my life I used words as a weapon.
As I've aged I've learned to moderate my tongue and even hold it. I've even learned to loose arguments, or at least not to win them all. Experience and an aging body have afforded me some wisdom and even control of my tongue. But on this day, at eighteen years old, I was far from learning that lesson.
I have always respected law enforcement officers and have never taken it personal when they arrest me. With the exception of the Florida State Trooper mentioned here, I have not had what I would call a bad experience with a cop. They were all respectful and professional. Other than this event, no cop has mistreated me. Even with this officer I believe it likely he was having a bad day. I can see how he would be upset after such a dangerous high-speed chase. If he really had driven over 200 miles per hour, then he had risked his life to catch me. He had a right to be angry. He didn't have a right to beat me, but I understand his rage.
Read Clay's Autobiography here.