The Denver police officer turned his head to the handcuffed man as he was escorting him to a squad car and asked, “You know you got caught by a news guy?”
The suspect bowed his head.
“I’m a news-hound junkie. This is my niche,” proclaimed 7News photojournalist Daryl Orr, about an hour after he yelled at the suspected thief to stay on the ground.
Orr explained that the roots of his actions came from his childhood in East Philadelphia — where he said he witnessed a double murder at the age of 7. The former deputy with the Maricopa County (Arizona) Sheriff’s Department cut his TV journalist teeth capturing twisters on film.
Orr, nicknamed “road wrangler” by TV colleagues because of his trademark cowboy hat and boots, was working the graveyard shift early Wednesday when the call came in about a break-in at a marijuana dispensary on Bryant Street in Denver.
As is his habit, Orr was listening to a police scanner. He heard the excited relaying of information between police and dispatchers as four or five suspects were seen bolting from the marijuana dispensary.
Denver police set up a perimeter and were looking for the suspects with police dogs. Orr dodged the roadblocks and positioned himself on a street north of the dispensary, where the chase was headed, hoping the action would come to him.
Orr said he wanted to film police arresting the suspects.
Police caught up to one of the suspects, who was tangled in a barbed-wire fence. The man managed to free himself by ripping his coat.
The suspect ran toward Orr, who was parked near a maintenance facility for Denver Public Schools.
“I was in an area that no one was looking. I saw some movement under a bush. That’s a weird looking rabbit. In silhouette, I distinctly saw a leg with a sneaker on it,” Orr said.
He drove the TV van closer and turned its bright lights on the man. Orr climbed out of the van and yelled at police.
“He’s under the bush. He’s right here,” he said.
The man started to move, apparently trying to make his escape.
“I yelled at him to stay on the ground,” Orr said. “He didn’t know who I was. I think he thought I was a cop. He got paranoid. He laid back down and extended his hands out in front of him.”
Two Denver sergeants put handcuffs on the suspect.
Orr had learned that voice command was the most important part of getting criminals to obey orders.
“That was crazy,” he said.