GLYNN WASHINGTON, HOST:
Welcome back to SNAP JUDGMENT, "The Crash And Burn," episode. Today, we're exploring what happens when something bangs up against something else. Now, I'm going to warn against doing anything done in this piece. But I especially would like to warn brown people. There are some things we just can't do. Parents, illegal substances are deployed in this story. Legal substances are deployed to ill-effect as well. SNAP JUDGMENT.
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JUPITER DIEGO: My wife and I had gone to our marriage counselor. And we had a tradition of going out to dinner after each of our weekly therapy sessions. On this particular occasion, we had taken two cars to the therapist's office. And I left in a huff before she did. And I drove straight home, locked and chained the front door so she would not have access, barricaded myself in the garage and proceeded to snort an entire eight-ball of cocaine within a matter of minutes. And when she got home, I emerged, naked and dripping with sweat, and somehow persuaded my wife to go forward with our usual tradition of going out to dinner in spite of my state. We went to Beverly Hills, to Carnegie Deli.
When we sat down, I wanted desperately to come down from the coke. So I excused myself to go to the men's room. And on the way, I found our server. I slipped her a 50-dollar bill and asked her to prepare a tall glass of scotch upon my exit from the men's room and to not let my wife see this. So when I came out of the men's room, there was not just a glass of scotch. It was a 12-ounce water glass filled to the brim with scotch. I downed the whole thing, managed to somehow make it back to the table, banging into things, et cetera. And as I sat down, I went into what can only be described as a blackout. I stood up and started shouting at the elderly couple at the table next to us. I grabbed her strawberry milkshake and poured it down her blouse and then began to run around the restaurant, grabbing patrons' dishes and entrees and flinging them across the room like so many Frisbees. I'm told that I then very angrily threw a 100-dollar bill down on the floor and stormed out of the restaurant.
At this point, my recollection begins to come back to me. I'm walking up Beverly Drive with the remote clicker to our car, clicking left and right trying to hear a beep to locate our car since I don't remember where we've parked it. And I come upon a valet parking lot. They happen to have an SUV very much like ours, the same dark green color, motor running and the driver's side door opened. The valet says to me, your car, sir. I said, well, yes. And as I attempt to climb into the car, I fall back out and land on my butt with a thud. Does this prevent the valet from helping me into the car? No, in fact, he picks me up - physically lifts me into the driver's seat. And I'm on my way.
I drive out of the lot onto Beverly Drive. And at this very moment, I see two Beverly Hills squad cars coming right towards me. They immediately recognized me because I'm wearing a red beret and a bushy goatee, which no doubt had been described by the restaurant manager when she called the cops because I was disturbing the peace. So they immediately flip on their lights and sirens. I took this as my cue to jam down on the gas.
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DIEGO: I turned right onto Brighton Way. Now, Brighton Way in downtown Beverly Hills is a one-way street. And I am going the wrong way. And then, all of a sudden, two more squad cars join the chase - one from the left, one from the right. A police helicopter swoops down. And I have the big beam of light on the hood of the stolen car that I'm driving. I got to the east end of the platinum triangle. Two more squad cars - now a total of six - are chasing me up and down through the primary downtown business district of Beverly Hills. The only thing I'm thinking as all of these cop cars are chasing me is, I need to get away. It is pure fright and flight. I'm driving as fast as I can, not only weaving between the cars but jumping up on the curbs, driving on the sidewalk. I flipped the car in one last desperate move, 180 degrees, to attempt an escape. But the vehicle flips onto its roof.
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UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Hanging upside down but still belted into my seat, I see now in front of me a semi-circle of ten Beverly Hills police officers, their service pistols all pointed straight at my head.
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UNIDENTIFIED OFFICER: Don't move.
DIEGO: There is a fire engine in the background, an ambulance. The helicopter is still making circles around, and a crowd of nearly 200 people has assembled. Having the whole windshield crash in on me, the helicopter, the crowd, the fire engine, the ambulance and 10 cops with their guns all pointed at me, it kind of shocks you into a different state. It was like, oh, [expletive]. This is real. This is actually happening. This is not just a joke, like the rest of my life had become. This is real. You're about to be dead. The act of surrender that no doubt saved my life was to push my hands forward, fingers spread as wide as possible, through that broken out windshield and to very clearly, calmly and slowly announce, 10 fingers, no gun. At this point, the cops, guns still pointed straight at my head and my heart, slowly converged in on me. And I was handcuffed and taken away. And now, when you put cocaine and alcohol together, it forms a new metabolite, a third chemical called cocaethylene. My levels of cocaethylene were lethal. I was taken to the Beverly Hills jail and put into the drunk tank with about 20 men. The cells at the Beverly Hills jail are immaculate. They have porcelain toilets. They're not steel. The people are nice. But I was not in a stable frame of mind, to say the least. And I tried to drown myself in the toilet. This did not amuse them at all. And so I was transported, shackled at both the ankles and wrists. And I ended up spending five days and nights in my suicide-watch solitary confinement cell, which, by the way, does not have a nice pillow and mattress. They give you a rubber blanket, which cannot be made into a noose. And they watch you continuously. They keep the temperature so cold that there's no thought of rebellion. All the inmates in that unit stay huddled under their rubber blankets, searching for whatever warmth they can find. On the fourth day, I was told I had a visitor. The visitor was my wife and an attorney - a very fancy-pants lady, high-power attorney - who announced to me immediately, with a big cheerful grin - she said, good news. I've got the four felonies - driving under the influence, evading police, under the influence of cocaine, and grand theft auto - I've had them all reduced to misdemeanors. Now, it's still four counts, but I think that's really good news. Ultimately, I was released on condition that I would be checked in the same day to the Cedars-Sinai chemical dependency unit. My wife brought me home. We packed a bag. I was taken to the hospital and checked in. And that turned out to be 30 of the most enjoyable, sunny and fun-filled days of my life. Everyone there was a coke head, a junkie or a pill freak. I felt right at home. At the end of my 30 days, I was taken to see Judge Elden Fox at the Beverly Hills Courthouse. Judge Fox was and remains judge to the stars. He was the judge for Lindsay Lohan, Winona Ryder. He gave me a lot of credit for having completed the 30 days in rehab at Cedars. And the prosecuting attorney, who was a lady, cut a deal in the ladies' room with my fancy-pants attorney. And they agreed together to drop all the charges except one, misdemeanor DUI. I was sentenced to the five days I had already served in the county jail, given summary probation and released on my own recognizance. A week later, my attorney came to discuss payment of her $10,000 fee. She looked around my living room and admired one of my paintings. I'm an artist. I had my paintings and photographs all around the house. And she particularly liked this one oil painting. And she asked if she could take that painting with her in lieu of her fee. Believe it or not, this is true. That painting hangs today between a Picasso etching on the right and a Jackson Pollock piece, a lithograph, on the left in her private collection in New York. All I can say is there's no accounting for some people's taste.
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WASHINGTON: It's nice. It must be real nice. I'm telling you, crash up the place. Just lose a few days and a painting. Again, be sure not to be black if you try this. And please do not try this. We here at SNAP JUDGMENT, we want to live vicariously sometimes. Big thanks to Jupiter Diego (ph) for sharing his story. And big thanks as well to Whit Missildine, creator of the This Is Actually Happening podcast, a part of the Misfit Radio Network, which is where we learned of this story. Discover more about that podcast. Find them on your podcast catcher or visit snapjudgment.org. That show was produced by Whit Missildine with an original score by Renzo Gorrio. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.