Bad Memory: Rodney Mullen gets a gun in the face for littering

It was back in the summer of 1991. We had just bought a new tour van-it was black with rims and tinted glass. Kareem Campbell, Tim Gavin, Henry Sanchez, Randy Colvin, Gabriel Rodriguez, Chris Brannah, Guy Mariano, and I were in Connecticut. It was night, and we’d just finished skating a demo. The guys wanted to eat at Taco Bell, but I didn’t want to, so I dropped them off and went to a grocery store down the street. When I returned, the guys had thrown their trash everywhere. There were wrappers and food all over the parking lot. As we were heading out of town, a cop followed us, and when we were outside the town limits, we saw another cop car pull up behind the first and then another one. They pulled us over and waited for a long time before the first cop came up to the van. When he did, he demanded my license and registration.

I was trying to figure out what I could have done wrong-I wasn’t speeding-when suddenly the littering dawned on me. I thought, “These guys out here are so strict! They’re pulling us over for littering. This is crazy!” I started apologizing, told him we’d go back and clean up the mess, and how we were sorry and wouldn’t do it again. He just gave me this you-are-such-an-idiot look. He asked if I happened to have any firearms in the vehicle, and I knew then that they had nothing on us. I was so relieved.

Until I remembered the guys had CO2 pellet guns in the back. I guess they’d been playing with them out in front of the Taco Bell, an employee saw them, thought they were going to rob the place, and called the cops. The other cops approached the van and told us to get out. They were super sketchy about opening the side door-they had their guns out, full police-style. We had to get down on all fours with our hands under our knees on the rough gravel by the side of the road.

Henry was arguing with cops, and they roughed him up a bit. They told everyone not to look up or something bad would happen. Henry finally got down on his hands, but he saw a spider on the ground and said, “Argh, a spider!” The cops tackled him and handcuffed him. We were in that position for half an hour. I had to rest my forehead on the ground to take some of the pressure off my hands.

They found the guns, pointed them at us, and asked, “How would you like it if you got shot in the face?” They said some racist stuff to Kareem, something about The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, but Kareem kept his cool. They told us about all the things they could do to us: take us in, fine us. Finally, they let us go and told us to get out of their jurisdiction. I was so scared.

We drove about ten minutes, out of their jurisdiction, before our van broke down.