Grace Under Pressure: Chucky Alexander’s Moment

By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

Author’s Note: Grace Under Pressure is an on-going series of posts honoring everyday people who courageously and honorably make positive differences in their own lives and the lives of others. It is my own personal affirmation that unexpected heroes reside among us and serves as  quiet but unshakable proof that virtue really is its own reward  – and ours too.

2610_homeless_spMost days he just drinks. Hard liquor is his preference but he’ll take most anything – beer, wine, or garage-made moonshine. When he’s not wandering the streets of Dallas looking for any day job he can get or a kind stranger with a spare dollar, Charles “Chucky” Alexander stays in a tiny apartment provided by a charity known as The Bridge.  No furniture, no luxuries, just four walls some heat and a bedroll. He lives mostly out of his backpack, and wonders how his seven-year-old daughter is doing in foster care. He thinks back to his days as a gang leader in L.A.’s ruthless, drug-dealing Crips gang, and knows he’s lucky to have made it to his 45th birthday. This past year Chucky was making some headway against his addictions, but his mother died unexpectedly sending the homeless man into yet another downward spiral of booze and despair.

Sometimes, just to talk to somebody,  he makes his way to the homeless shelter at Park Avenue and Corsicana Street. That’s where Chucky found himself on Tuesday, October 16th, 2012, enduring the relentless monotony and quiet desperation the greatest society on earth visits on its most vulnerable. Talking to another homeless person, Chucky watched an SUV screech to halt just feet from his location.  Out sprang Sam Jackson, high on Phencyclidine (PCP), a drug so dangerous it has been shelved by its manufacturer and banned from use. PCP produces an incredible long-lasting high that renders some users almost impervious to pain.  Hallucinating, Jackson wheeled and attacked Wendy Poole as she walked down the street, and then went for other homeless folks whose only crime was being in his path.

Ten year veteran Dallas police officer, Billy Taylor, responded to the scene within minutes to find Jackson threatening and beating indiscriminately  Drawing his baton, he rushed towards the out-of-his-mind man to end the attack. Despite well placed blows, Jackson was unfazed and struck Taylor in the head stunning him. The officer, realizing what he was dealing with, retreated but took a severe beating in the process, dislocating fingers on his hand and suffering a concussion. Bridge security guard Andrea Thomas came to his aid, but was easily brushed away.

Thomas kept coming a second time but this time with an unexpected ally. Chucky, seeing the carnage, ran up behind Jackson placing him squarely in a bear hug. When the man didn’t stop struggling,  Alexander lifted the man and slammed him to the pavement ending the assault just as two Dallas police cruisers, rolling  Code 10-39, lurched to a stop. The whole scene was caught on video below.

Chucky admits there was a time when he wouldn’t have gotten involved. Like when he was “sellin’.” But with age came perspective, “I knew there was something I had to do.  The officer had his baton out but it wasn’t doing any good. I mean, this guy was really PC’d out.”

“I think he’s a hero,” victimized  bystander Wendy Poole said. Dallas Police Chief David Brown agreed. He presented  a Citizens Certificate of Merit to Charles Alexander. Says the press release, “Due to Mr. Alexander’s bravery and quick actions, Samuel Jackson was taken into custody for assaulting a citizen and a Dallas Police officer.” The chief will honor Alexander for intervening “with little to no regard for his own safety.”

So here we have it. Chucky Alexander, homeless, unemployed, alcohol-addled, and the lowest of us in the minds of many, placed himself squarely between a madman and his victim. Unhesitantly, he came to the aid of a total stranger whose life depended on Chucky’s courage and sense of community. Perhaps before we judge so harshly based on what we see and what we have seen, we can stop to consider Chucky Alexander — a man with every reason to let the other guy do it or just get invisible when a  symbol of  the power structure that forgot about him is viciously attacked. But he didn’t. Maybe we can let ourselves believe that there’s merit to the old adage about there being some good in everyone that even the harshness of  the world can’t grind down.

Chucky Alexander reminds us that the world is full of  heroes-in-waiting, and, that as poet Jorge Luis Borges observed, “Any life, no matter how long and complex it may be, is made up of a single moment, the moment in which a man finds out, once and for all, who he is.”

Now, you could feel sorry for Chucky’s plight but after thinking about it,  you might feel sorry for the rest of us — and envy Mr. Alexander’s moment. Chucky Alexander answered his moment; do any of us good, productive citizens really want to ask ourselves the same question?

Sources:  Huffington Post;; Dallas News

~Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

37 thoughts on “Grace Under Pressure: Chucky Alexander’s Moment

  1. Great story, and so well written! Kudos also to the cops for not reverting to their current standard, shoot first, ask questions later.

  2. You know mark…. This is a great story…. The bridge is a good place or folks to get reestablished….. Not all story’s in this area of Dallas end this way…

  3. Superb, Mespo. Life is much too complex to apply meaningless “good and “bad” to people. We are complex. Men are capable of unspeakable violence and awe inspiring kindness and bravery. In this instance Chucky received a “gut check”. Anyone who plays sports knows what that means. It’s hot, your body is cramping up late in the game, but you press on for your team. I remember my teammates who answered gut checks, and I remember those who didn’t. I always remember there were a few surprises, both ways.

  4. Anon:

    you dont believe in redemption?

    No, he probably cannot atone for all he has done and for all the lives he hurt in the past. But he can move on and resolve to do good from now on. This seems like a modest start on the path back to a place at societies table.

    So you do not believe in free will? So it is with most a**holes. They are what they are and cannot change for the better. Better to denigrate or ignore free will than be required to make effort to change.

    “Can human nature ever be wholly and radically transformed? Can the man whom God made good be made wicked by man? Can the soul be reshaped in its entirety by destiny and made evil because destiny is evil? Can the heart become misshapen and afflicted with ugly, incurable deformities under disproportionate misfortune, like a spinal column bent beneath a too low roof?”
    (Victor Hugo, “Les Misérables”)

  5. Hey, Anon. How many dead in Iraq. How many dead in the crazy, “war on drugs.” How many dead in the “war on terror.”

    Only children are innocent. Many of us are complicit in the deaths of others, if only by turning a blind eye, or doing little or nothing, when action is required.

    It’s been said that “it’s what you do last in life that counts.” And as Mark Esposito, reminds us, “the world is full of heroes-in-waiting, and, … as poet Jorge Luis Borges observed, “Any life, no matter how long and complex it may be, is made up of a single moment, the moment in which a man finds out, once and for all, who he is.”

  6. After I retired from the City I created and ran programs like the one Chucky was in. I came to know, empathize and care for the people I worked with, while seeing the frustration of their lives in terms of their individual battles against addiction. Many also has very serious metal diagnoses like Schizophrenia and Bi-Polar Disorder. Yet contrary to the public’s conception, these were human beings many with great depth and character. Knowing full well how difficult it is for someone like Chucky to have something in his life about which he can feel pride, I’m glad that his heroic intervention won him public praise he deserves it.

  7. I hope that Chucky Alexander can continue to recover after performing this heroic act, and that the good vibes he received from the community will become the norm rather than the exception. Also, I hope someone helped him get a job.

  8. Homeless run the gamut like all demographics. I sit and talk w/ many, getting to know the regulars here in San Diego. Most have psych and substance issues. Many are ex vets since this is a big military town. I’ll have coffee and breakfast w/ them and have some good converstions. A lot of them are angry..mostly @ the world. The ones I know don’t try and hit me up for money and all are grateful for coffee and breakfast/lunch. One guy taught me a few years ago to always give your leftovers from a nice restaurant to a homeless person. He said, “We like good food too!” If anyone here, God forbid, becomes homeless I urge you to find your way to San Diego. It is as good a place as there can be for you. Maybe I’ll buy you lunch.

  9. Bron, The Hotel Del is beautiful. We stayed there back in the 90’s w/ our 2 kids. There are stories it’s haunted so that was fun w/ the kids. The problem is the hotel is a huge tourist attraction. So, you’re sitting by the pool and busloads of Asian tourists walk through taking pictures of everyone and anything. The food is good but not spectacular. LaJolla has George’s California Modern which is 5 stars. That’s where we’ll go, but we’ll have to clean you up!

  10. SWM, Bless Me, Ultima looks pretty good. We’ll go see it the next rainy day. If you do please give me your review.

  11. It was wise and good for society that he police validated Chuck for coming to the aid of these people and risking his life. The little people who live on skid row are creatures who deserve kindness and recognition. It may be that some time down the road Chucky will be up apCray creek for some offense but maybe this will be balanced in with that offense. Chucky needs a job somewhere as a support dog. He would be good helping others or workng at a cattle ranch where he can give direction. Good article here.

  12. nick, Just getting back to the movies after husband’s surgery. Saw “Quartet” this evening but I am not recommending it to you. It was entertaining but not enough so to give it high marks. Have not been to the Hotel Del Coronado since the nineties. We used to get to go to conferences there. The kids loved it.

  13. “sense of community” , , , that which separates Chucky Alexander from the mightiest and richest bank, corporation, or globalized commercial venture.

    “on a pedestal” . . . no, he still slumbers in a sleeping bag on the floor, but a more nobler sanctum perhaps than the finest beds in which the 1% toss and turn

  14. LaJolla does have a pretty good array of outstanding restaurants. George’s is hard to beat though. Never been in the restaurant part though. The couple of times I’ve eaten there, I sat in the bar (no reservations).

  15. Mark,

    Thank you for these articles. They are an antidote to the “wrongs” that we read and report in an upside down proportion. These articles make my life better and I am grateful.
    Peace, Joseph

  16. Anon:

    “Former drug dealing gang leader…wonder how many dead he is responsible for and you people put him on a pedestal.”


    “I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”

    ~Jesus of Nazareth

    Same goes for Dallas, Richmond … most everywhere.

  17. Joseph Piazza:

    ” These articles make my life better and I am grateful.”


    That’s the business of everybody – or at least it should be.


  18. Mark,

    I hope this is appreciated…

    You can never do a kindness to soon because you never know how soon it will be too late.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson

  19. nick spinelli:

    I have a friend who has a service dog and I have a picture of the dog sitting on a chair in front of a slice of pizza and a martini glass in the Hotel Del.

    if someone can tell me how to post it, I will. It is pretty funny and the expression on the dogs face is pretty good.

  20. Gene, When I travelled on biz I ate in many great restaurant bars. The service is more consistent than dining rooms. Everyone in the kitchen takes care of the bartenders..they can give you free drinks @ the end of the night. I learned that from our family owned restaurant as a kid and later as bartender in a couple restaurants in my younger years.

  21. Bron, They’re quite dog friendly in SD, but I’m sure you need a service dog @ the Hotel Del. Many restaurants allow dogs and I’m always pleased that people have common sense in which dogs can handle the activity.

  22. Bron,

    Don’t you think that it a good way to live…

    But the again, some never see the errors of their way…. Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak with a former NATO commander…. He retired from the marines… With almost 40 years…. In service and reserve…. He retired with one thing on his mind….. He hated sending young men into battle…. He sure the hell would not allow a woman under his watch to be killed…

    It seems we have have a conflict in the state of war…. We have to sacrifice our own men in order to not kill women or children…. But women allowed in the battle get killed just as easy…. He was up for promotion…. But declined from a two bird…. Which I think would have been a one star….

    We then commenced talking about 1984… When I brought up Genes article about the 100 mile rule… He had no ideal………

  23. @ anon how about thinking like this…. yes during his drug dealing gang banging days he may or may not have taken many lives… but on that particular day he saved countless lives how many people do you think the pcp taker would have destroyed before being stopped ?

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