SINCE NATHANAEL Reimer could be dead right now, what followed — his alleged confusing treatment by some of Philadelphia's finest — amounts to only head-shaking frustration.
Reimer, a server at Garces Trading Co., 11th and Locust streets, headed home about 10:45 p.m. Friday, July 6, and was talking on a cellphone as he walked south on tiny Quince Street, dark as a bat's wing. He noticed two youths in their late teens lounging on one corner ahead of him. Two other youths in their early teens were on the opposite corner.
As he approached, one asked him for a cigarette, while two others circled behind him. Sensing trouble, Reimer tensed to fight, making eye contact with the teen in front of him.
Everything changed when the teen pulled out a large gun and cocked it.
At the sound of the click, fight became flight and Reimer, 32, ran like hell. The teens neither fired nor chased.
Reimer hailed a cab and jumped in. With his heart still hammering, he called 9-1-1.
One night earlier, Thursday, another man leaving Garces was beaten and robbed. Four days earlier, about 10 p.m., another employee was assaulted and robbed.
And a few days before that, IT consultant Michael Hagan, 32, was robbed and shot dead at 4th and Lombard about 3 a.m. That homicide is not yet solved. A few weeks earlier, a man was robbed and shot at 4th and Gaskill. All this in "safe" Center City, which Reimer doubts is as safe as its reputation. He complains that he sees little police presence, especially in his work neighborhood, where three Garces people were assaulted in less than a week.
The day after his close call, Reimer called the 6th District, and Officer Rosa Martinez told him to come to the station at 11th and Vine to file a police report. He arrived early Saturday afternoon and says he was brushed off by the desk officer who took some notes, but did not fill out a report.
When I inquire about this, Capt. Brian Korn says the officer told him that he asked Reimer if he wanted to fill out a report and Reimer declined. Twice. Reimer tells me he walked over to the 6th District in 100-degree heat and asked the officer to take his information. Twice. "Why would I leave without filling out a report?" asks Reimer.
Not being clairvoyant, I'm not going to call anyone a liar. I suspect part of this involves police jargon and semantics. Example: When you call 9-1-1 to report a crime to police, you have not made a police report.
After being rebuffed, Reimer called the 6th again and Martinez told him to come in Tuesday to file a police report, that she'd make sure it got done. (I checked. It did.) But when he arrived Tuesday, he was told for the first time that he'd have to go to Central Detectives, which he did, where detectives seemed surprised to see him.
What he didn't know, and says he wasn't told, was that cops had rounded up three suspects the night of the attack.
After hashing all this over with Korn, we agreed it seems like bad communication. There was a lot of other baffling back-and-forth between Reimer and cops that I'm skipping because I want to get to the issue of safety.
Korn was disturbed by Reimer's perception that eastern Center City, part of the 6th District that runs from Society Hill to Northern Liberties east of Broad, is unsafe.
The most recent figures available, first quarter 2012 vs. first quarter 2011, shows homicide down 60 percent, rape down 20 percent, aggravated assault down 8 percent, burglary down 48.8 percent and auto theft down 22.5 percent, but robbery up 10.4 percent, theft up 14.6 percent. Percentages can mislead — the number of first-quarter 2012 crimes remains small — two homicides, four rapes, 74 robberies.
As for police presence, for tactical reasons Korn wouldn't tell me how many cops patrol the 6th, but acknowledges that commanders always want more resources. He says that the 6th is safe.
I think he's right, but having a gun stuck in my face might change my mind.