Catching a Cop Killer: The Hunt for Travis Boys


It was June 20, 2015, the last day of Spring and the sun had just broken through the trees. I could feel the heat trapped between my vest and chest. My undershirt was soaked and sticking to me. I already knew I was going to need help taking it off when I got home, and I was only two hours into my shift. The air conditioning was blasting through the vents, but it wouldn’t help the inevitable. In the driver’s seat next to me was my Field Training Officer (FTO), Stephen Mcgee. He was a bigger guy, one you might mistakenly misjudge or underestimate — a man balanced adequately by compassion and aggression, who knew how to talk to people.

Eastbound on Chef Menteur Highway, we passed up our suspect fleeing the scene and made a U-turn. A black male, approximately 6’6”, 300 pounds, wanted for shoplifting a TV dinner and a Snickers from the Dollar General. By fleeing, I mean walking at the average pace of a man that large. As we pulled up in front of him, he dropped his black drawstring bag and immediately reached out putting his massive hands on the hood with his feet far away from the vehicle. This was the behavior of an institutionalized man. We linked two pairs of handcuffs together behind his back (almost needing a third), and carefully stuffed him into the backseat of our police unit. The dispatcher’s description of him in itself was intimidating, but I felt bad for the gentle giant as the law would not allow him this meal. His lack of resistance told me that he would rather eat in jail than not at all.

While doing the paperwork with our radios slightly low, Mcgee and I turned our heads towards each other to confirm what our ears had just heard. Neither of us heard any part of the dispatcher’s sentence except for “108”. Mcgee keyed up and asked her to repeat her last transmission. She advised us that the 5th district was working a signal “108” (Officer’s Life in Danger) but told us to standby for more information. My heart dropped, and adrenaline took over my entire body as I impatiently stared at Mcgee for approval to let this man out of our unit.

A summons had never been written so fast. We shimmied the man out of the backseat and sent him on his way. While en route to the 5th District we got the call from our Lieutenant. Officer Daryle Holloway had been shot, and the perpetrator was at large. While transporting another officer’s prisoner to lock-up, the subject was able to retrieve a handgun concealed on his person, reach through the partition window, shoot Holloway and escape on foot. Our Lieutenant instructed us to pick up Holloway’s family and bring them to the hospital.

With my stomach in knots and dark sunglasses over my eyes, we knocked. A middle-aged woman opened the door with tears building in her eyes as if gravity wasn’t allowing them to fall. “Let me get Dylan,” she said.

Dylan? Dylan? Who is Dylan?

Moments later, a young teenage boy walked out. Holloway’s son had the same name as me. He had a look of disbelief on his face. My head started to fall, but I caught it. I clenched my jaw and lifted my index finger, pushing my sunglasses against my face to make sure my eyes were covered.

Although neither of us had met Holloway’s family before, we were family, so we hugged them as if we knew them and escorted them to our police unit. Even with the lights and sirens speeding on the interstate, I seem only to remember silence the entire way.

As we pulled up to the ramp, we could see the white uniforms of all the highest rank standing around the entrance with their cold straight faces balanced by heartache and anger. The Chief met us at the front doors and escorted the family in.

Through the glass double doors, we could see a few Officers with tears rolling down their face. That’s when we knew. We began to ask those by the entrance “Did he…” But before we could even finish our sentence, they interrupted “10-7” (Out of Service). Officer Daryle Holloway had succumbed to his injuries.

A wave of anger I had never felt filled my body. The first genuine homicidal thoughts I ever experienced filled my head. I wanted to kill the man who did this: no judge, no jury, no chance of hurting another officer or human being ever again.

He wasn’t just a cop; he was one of us. A veteran who was working the Desire Projects when I was only three years old. A good friend of my amazing FTO I had in the 5th District. There was a weight to this loss I had never felt. I had gone out to dinner with him and the rest of the 5th District A platoon weeks prior. He had made fun of my ears, as most people do. And he wasn’t happy when a rookie fired back at him with “Ok beetle-juice teeth.” He was a funny guy but believed in earning your stripes, so he referred to me as “Recruit” even though my FTO had vouched for me.

By the time we left the hospital, our tour of duty was technically over, and we were told to go home. Go home?! The man who killed our brother is still out there; I wasn’t going anywhere. I called the 5th district station and asked if there was anything I could do, but there was still a lot of investigation to be done before releasing enough information for us to help. I sat in the station parking lot in my 2001 Silver Ford Focus making phone calls to officers I knew in the 5th District trying to see where I could help, but no one was answering. It didn’t feel right going home, but as a rookie, in this situation, I didn’t know what else to do.

While on I-10 West approaching the split near the Superdome, I saw a convoy of marked units and an armored S.W.A.T. vehicle heading towards the 5th District. Did they find him? Was he barricaded in a house? I made a few more phone calls but still no answer. Later that evening, the perpetrator had been identified. The name of the coward who killed Officer Daryle Holloway was Travis Boys. A 33-year-old black male who had an extensive criminal history of resisting arrest and escaping custody.

The Manhunt

The next day I made it to work early and asked my Lieutenant if Mcgee and I could solely help look for Travis Boys. During roll-call they selected one two-man unit to support the 5th District with “Calls for Service” and we were it. There was a manhunt underway with city, state and federal law enforcement scouring the streets; we weren’t trying to handle anything but finding Travis Boys. On the way to the 5th district, I called my Dad to update him on the situation. Full of anger, I remember telling him that we were going to find Travis Boys one way or another.

Within thirty minutes of being in the 5th District, I received intel from a friend on the task force that Travis Boys may be hiding out in the Lower Ninth Ward. I texted a few of my classmates from the Academy and told them to meet us at the Brother’s Gas Station on St. Claude. This was one of the only places to get food across the canal. Once I got some coffee and McGee got some breakfast, we sat in the car out front waiting.

While sitting there, I took a screenshot of Travis Boys’ face from the BOLO (be on the lookout) and made it the background on my phone, so we could identify him quicker if we saw him.

Minutes later a black male, wearing a gray long-sleeve jacket, flat-brim hat, and blue jeans, walked around the corner from Lizardi Street, directly in front of our marked police unit. As he turned the corner, we made eye contact through the front windshield. He immediately put his head down, allowing the brim of his hat to cover his face.

I didn’t recognize him right away. I could only see the right side of his body as he walked passed us and into the store. I had a very strong feeling, but kept it to myself for the moment. We had stopped several people fitting the clothing description but were met with negative results. I didn’t want to be wrong again.

I sat in the passenger seat anxiously waiting for the subject to come out of the store. I had to have stared a hole through my phone trying to figure out if the face I had just seen a glimpse of was the man that the whole city was looking for. Finally, I noticed that he had a tattoo on the left side of his neck in the picture. If he walked out of the store back the way he came, the left side of his body would be exposed. I sat there staring at the front doors of the store with my heart rate increasing every time a customer walked out. I started to worry about a back door to the gas station. More than ten minutes had passed, and he hadn’t come out yet. Nothing in Brother’s gas station takes that long. Mcgee had finished his food, and my fellow “Recruits” hadn’t shown up yet. “Hold on, hold on, not yet,” I told him as he put his right hand on the gear shift.

I explained to him exactly what I had just seen, and he trusted me. We formulated a plan. I would go in and act as if I was looking for a drink and try to identify him while Mcgee stood at the door in case he tried to run. The plan ended there as we had no idea what we were going to encounter.

Ambition, suppressing my nerves, I walked in with Mcgee following behind. The subject was standing in front of the hot food, looking away from the door at nothing, as if he was still waiting to order. As I walked behind him towards the cold drinks, I attempted to look at the left side of his neck, but he had strategically turned away. I got to the cooler, stared aimlessly for a moment and told McGee from across the store “they don’t have it.” As I walked back towards the door, the subject gradually turned his face away as I walked behind him, but I was able to get a closer look at his neck.

All I saw was black ink, I couldn’t make out what it was, but there was a tattoo with the same shape in the same location on his neck. I made it towards the door, silently mouthing to Mcgee “It’s him, I think it’s him.” Before we made it outside, an older gentleman wearing a white button-down shirt and matching flat cap hat who was standing in line loudly asked me “Did y’all catch that motherfucker yet?”

Jesus Christ old man! I’m pretty sure he’s standing directly in front of you! — I thought to myself.

“Not yet, we are still looking. Y’all have a good day,” I responded as we walked out the door. With too many citizens in the store to engage with a possibly armed cop-killer, I gave Mcgee a “let’s go” head nod. I told him that I was confident that it was Travis Boys. We got in our police unit and decided to act like we were leaving to see if he would come out. As we drove through the parking lot out of view, he immediately walked out back towards the way he came.

Walking down the sidewalk looking straight at the ground, Mcgee pulled up behind him positioning the car at an angle that put the engine block directly between him and us. With my heart jumping out of my chest, we exited our police unit. Mcgee called for him “Say, bruh!”– and we were off to the races. He hopped a brick wall. I hopped the brick wall. He jumped a fence. I jumped the fence.

I quickly lost sight of him as he made his way through the neighborhood mechanic’s junkyard– A lot full of old trucks, car parts and makeshift shelters made of tarps. I ran as fast as I could, slowing at each corner of the cars with my gun leading the way. Beyond the garage, I heard what I thought was him jumping a chain link fence. Punching my gun straight out, raising my shoulders towards my ears and trying to suck my head in like a turtle, I began to sprint straight for the fence. As I passed each junkyard obstacle, I braced for the possibility that I heard wrong and that he may be waiting for me. While jumping the fence, I heard another. Simultaneously, I realized that I hadn’t turned on my body camera. Running with my gun in my right hand, I double tapped with my left. Once again blowing past everything, I hurdled a rusty chain-link fence and regained sight of him as he ran across the intersection of St. Claude and Forstall towards an RTA Bus.

At this point, I had no idea where Mcgee was. I hadn’t looked back or even thought about using my radio. Tunnel vision had taken over.

Running across the intersection as the subject boarded the bus, a marked unit came speeding past with lights and sirens blaring. Running behind it, Mcgee whipped the police unit in front of the bus forcing it to a screeching halt. As I cleared the rear passenger side of the bus, the subject flew out of the front door running in between two houses with Mcgee behind him. I began paralleling the subject as he jumped the fence into the vacant lot where I was able to gain on him. My shoulder mic had come loose, smacking me in the face as I ran through the uneven yard.

Just before the next fence, he stopped for a split second bringing his hands down towards his waistband and out of sight. This was it. He had already killed one of us; I wasn’t going to be the second. I slowed down, and my gun began to raise as I prepared to take a man’s life.

But before I knew it, his hands were up, pulling himself over the next fence—and another fence.

I caught up to him just as he reached a fence where Mcgee was standing on the other side. Sprinting towards him with my gun pointed at his torso, I simultaneously gave verbal commands “get on the ground, get on the ground! Hands out to your sides! Don’t move!” Following him to the dirt, I slid in knee-first, putting all my weight on the right side of his lower back and holstered my gun upon contact. I went to put him in handcuffs, but steel was met with steel.

Once the handcuffs were secure, I pulled his sleeves up to find that the steel that my handcuffs were met with were handcuffs themselves — Holloway’s handcuffs. I could see “Holloway 1708” engraved in the double-strand. It was him; it was Travis Boys, and he still had blood stains on the back of his jacket.

“It’s him!” I yelled to Mcgee, as he kicked his way through the wooden fence trying to get to me. Somehow Officer Marcus Mcneil got to me first.

“Code-4, one apprehension,” Mcneil told the dispatcher, simultaneously stealing my thunder as I tried to catch my breath. “Ma’am, it’s him, he has broken handcuffs on his wrists,” my voice trembled over the radio. I could hear units rolling our way with lights and sirens from every direction. Each officer exited their vehicle, running to us and hovering in silence.

Still wanting visual confirmation, we told him to look at us, but he continued to bury his face in the dirt. Now he was the one with his stomach in knots. We forced him on his back and confirmed further. After searching him for a weapon and emptying his pockets, we placed shackles around his ankles and handcuffed his upper limbs to his lower, behind his back. He wasn’t escaping this time. But that wouldn’t stop him from trying.

We carried him to our police unit and secured him in the backseat. Everyone began shaking my hand, patting me on the back and hugging me, saying thank you. With sadness, anger and relief all crashing in at once, I returned my sunglasses to my face. “This is because of you,” Mcgee said as he grabbed me by the back of the neck and gently butted heads with me. “No, this is because of us,” I disagreed, as I walked around the vehicle in an effort not to cry.

We got in the car and received specific instructions to transport Travis Boys directly to the Public Integrity Bureau. A chilling feeling ran through my body. I looked ahead of us as marked units flew into intersections blocking traffic clearing the way with just as many following behind.

Lying on his stomach, hands, and feet still bound together behind his back, Travis Boys buried his face into the crevasse of the seat. Knowing his history of escaping, we weren’t taking any chances. I turned around with my knees on the seat and the partition open. I took my body-camera off of my chest, held it in my hand, and pointed it directly at him. While he lay there motionless, I couldn’t help but furiously stare at the bloodstain on the back of his jacket wondering if it belonged to Holloway. Anger directed my thoughts to a dark place. A place where I imagined what would have happened if we engaged him in the store. This was the moment I started questioning the decisions I had made.

Within minutes, still in the same position, I watched him start to move his fingers around the back of his waistband as he searched for a safety-pin he had clipped to the inside of his belt loop. Once he felt it, he turned his face towards the front to find me and my body-camera looking down at him. Disappointed, he returned his hands to the small of his back and buried his face back into the seat. He continued to look back, repeatedly checking if I was still watching but there was no escaping this time.

From P.I.B. to the hospital, to central lock-up, he refused to look at anyone or move a muscle. “I need a drink,” were the only words he mumbled. Although he was a cold-blooded cop killer, he was still a human with rights. Shaking my head, I watched a detective pour an ice cold Coca-Cola into his mouth.

When I returned home, I made a phone call. “We got him, we fucking got him, Dad.” In that moment, the flood-gates opened and all the emotions I had felt throughout the last 48 hours left through my eyes.

The Rollercoaster That Followed

I woke up the next day, feeling just as sad and just as angry. I had dealt with a lot of death and loss from a young age, but this was different. I had dealt with friends and family dying from car accidents, suicide, overdose, and old age, but I had never experienced this before. This was murder. Daryle Holloway was a brother in blue; we wore the same uniform, worked the same streets, and took the same oath. That could have been any of us. That could have been me. Losing a brother or sister in the line of duty makes you face your mortality, and it is frightening. It makes you second-guess why you chose to be the police and forces you think about your family without you.

As if the emotional rollercoaster wasn’t enough, it only got worse when I returned to work the next day. All the praise in the world couldn’t outweigh the Monday-Morning-Quarterback. Along with the pats on the back, came the question, “Why didn’t you kill him?” Veterans that had spent over 20 years on the job with Holloway were not happy that Travis Boys went to jail without a scratch. Deep down, I knew I did the right thing, but this question would haunt me for months. The anger inside of me was still so intense, and I never got to take it out on him. I didn’t give him an extra knee to the body or bounce his face off the side of the car while trying to put him in the backseat. I didn’t punch him or even so much as cuss at him. I thought maybe if I had killed him or hurt him in some way, I wouldn’t feel so angry and some of my colleagues wouldn’t be so upset with me.

A year later, we were invited to celebrate Holloway’s birthday. It wasn’t until I had the opportunity to sit down with Holloway’s mother that I began to believe I had done the right thing without questioning myself. Ms. Holloway was a forgiving, God-loving woman who told me repeatedly that she didn’t want Travis Boys to die. She expressed sorrow for his family who had to endure the consequences of his actions. How she felt about my actions was all that truly mattered to me.

For the longest time, I felt uncomfortable every time I ran into one of Holloway’s family members or 5th District co-workers because I felt like I was a constant reminder of his death. I felt uncomfortable accepting awards and accommodations for something that had to do with one of us being killed in the line of duty.

As time went on, I started to feel better about what I did and more so what I didn’t do. I still questioned myself sometimes but only out of anger. It wasn’t until the trial that I fully began to regret my actions that day.

The idea of Travis Boys being found not guilty, or being placed in a mental institution instead of prison, brought back one thought– I should have killed him. This thought stemmed from many things, and one of them was my distrust in our justice system.

During Travis Boys’ plea of insanity, he asked to go to the bathroom. What happened next was straight out of a movie. He returned from the bathroom with a napkin full of his own feces and proceeded to wipe it all over his face. This led to a six-month battle to prove that his repulsive act was nothing more than a plea strategy. When it came time for me to testify, I was more nervous than I had ever been. I had testified a hundred times, but this was the most important trial of my career. I didn’t want to let down the Holloway family or the officers that sat before me.

The walk to the stand felt as if it would never end. As I passed the prosecution, I saw pictures on the table of Holloway in the hospital before being transported to the coroner’s office. I looked over at the defense table and made eye contact with Travis Boys for the first time since he turned that corner to walk into the store. I sat down, my palms sweating, adjusted the mic and took a look at the jury. Four men, eleven women, and one judge held Travis Boys’ fate in their hands.

Composed, I sat on the stand answering questions, identifying evidence and presenting a play-by-play with a map to the jury. Emotion crept in during certain parts, but I thought I was doing surprisingly well keeping it together. It wasn’t until the Assistant District Attorney had me identify Holloway’s handcuffs that I lost my composure. Once she pulled them out of the box and began walking them towards me, my lips started to quiver, and the pressure slowly built behind my eyes. I tried to power through, but the judge finally stopped me, knowing I needed a minute as they could barely tell what I was saying. They directed me towards the chambers and allowed me to gather myself. I took a couple deep breathes, wiped my eyes, and returned to finish testifying.

I returned to my seat next to the Holloway family and looked over. Travis Boys had turned around was staring directly at me. No facial expression, just staring. I clenched my jaw and bit my tongue as if I knew what I’d say if ever had the chance. I had found myself in an actual staring contest and could only hope he saw the fire in my eyes. I have no idea how long we were locked in for, but eventually, he looked away.

The next couple days would be hard as we listened to Travis Boys’ well-coached family members and well-paid expert witnesses ramble on about their accomplishments as they tried to prove that Travis Boys was clinically insane at the time that he murdered Officer Daryle Holloway. But all the poop masks and expert witnesses in the world couldn’t sway a jury the other way.

On March 24, 2018, almost three years later, Travis Boys was convicted of First-Degree Murder of a Police Officer and on May 3, 2018, he was sentenced to life in prison. Justice was finally served.

Anger still lingers inside me, and that will never change, I am sure. But in the end, I am happy that I did not give Travis Boys the easy way out. I am glad I did not kill him.

To the Monday-Morning-Quarterback, 
To know what really took place and be able to second-guess the actions of those in the game on Sunday, you would have to actually be at the game. It is easy to watch the tape and decide what you would do with your eyes. It is another to make that split-second, life-altering decision with a gun in your hand when someone could take your life as fast as you can take theirs. No one knows anyone’s threat perception or ability and comfort in defending themselves.

To the veterans that worked with Holloway for so long before I came,
I understand your vengeant-anger. I know that if I had killed him that day, it would have provided everyone with an instant level of relief. It would have also offered Travis Boys immediate relief. Instead, he will sit in prison for the rest of his life. I hope you can find peace in that.

To the Holloway Family,
I will forever be sorry for your loss as I do not write these very words without tears in my eyes. You have greeted me with open arms from the day I met you. I may have lost a brother, but I gained an entire family. I could never thank you enough.

and finally…

To the officers who have, or will go through something similar,
Every feeling and thought you have through this process is normal. Know that you’re not alone in the experience and do not have to be alone through the struggle. Talk to someone. Confide in someone you trust. It is scary to share with another human-being what I have just shared. But I do it because I know someone else is or will endure this tragedy in one form or another.

Rest In Peace, Officer Daryle Holloway.

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