The Struggle, Downtown, Sat Dec 1, 1:55 am: The victims: "Victim two has a broken right hand with scrapes across the knuckles and transported himself to HMC. Victim one has a laceration on his chest approximately 14 inches long, 4 inches wide, and large enough to fit a hand inside. Victim one also has a laceration to the head and a stab wound on his back above his left kidney. The wound is approximately two inches wide."

A witness: "I, Officer Moran, responded to a report of a stabbing in the parking lot located at the northwest corner of Second Avenue and Virginia Street. I found victim one on the loading dock. He was sitting in a chair as a witness held his wound. After the SPD medics transported victim one to HMC, the witness stated he was standing on the south side of Virginia when he saw victim one being chased by the suspect in the alley. Witness stated the suspect had dark clothing."

The suspect: "The suspect, described as a Native American male in his 30s, with a long ponytail, black leather jacket, dark pants, and white button-down shirt. The suspect was believed to be Native American because the suspect yelled that he was Native American. At one point, the suspect took out a rubber band holding his ponytail and yelled he was a Native American. The suspect was also holding the black handle of a folding knife. A struggle ensued in the alley. Victim one was stabbed and victim two chased the suspect through the alley. Victim two broke his hand during the chase but had no idea where and how it happened... Victim one stated he walked to a nightclub on Virginia Street and asked to use the bathroom to stop the blood. He was ushered to the club's loading dock and placed in a chair."

No amount of rereading can make clear the story of this report. We know that two men were injured—one has a broken hand, the other several stab wounds. We know the suspect has a ponytail and claims to be a Native American. We know the scene of the crime was an alley. But as to how or why the violence erupted, this is not explained. In fact, the impression made by the witness and victims is that the story does not matter. What is important, and must be reported, is just the struggle.

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This sudden struggle, the struggle that just happens, is common in police reports. Victims and suspects often only remember (or only report) "the struggle" that "ensued." For them, the struggle obliterates the story. The story cannot survive the hot and quick experience of the struggle. Why the struggle happened is lost in the struggle itself. recommended

charles@thestranger.com