He landed his dream job pursuing the guilty, but two decades of horrific violence and a steady stream of death left him scarred…
From a stint at the notorious county jail to a decade on the streets of South Los Angeles, to going undercover before making the grade in the elite homicide bureau, former L.A. County Sheriff’s detective Danny R. Smith put his life on the line for twenty-one years.
His career covered some of L.A.’s darkest hours: a crack cocaine epidemic, unprecedented gang warfare, a spike in homicides that stunned the nation, flames lighting the skies while gunfire rang through the nights during the Rodney King riots. There were deadly encounters: fights, pursuits, shootings, and a beating that left him unconscious. A confrontation with a murderous gangster in a dark alley, where only the miraculous malfunction of a fully automatic weapon saved his life.
Hardened by the years spent on the streets and the hundreds of deaths and untold numbers of tragedies he would witness, Smith’s frustrations with a dysfunctional system weighed heavily, and his continued pledge to see justice for the victims came at an astronomical personal cost.
In this no-holds-barred memoir, Smith reveals the shocking imagery of fallen colleagues, murdered children, gang warfare, and a Native American who was tortured and burned alive by skinheads. And through his unique insights battling PTSD and being forced to leave the profession he loved, his story will offer new insight into the aftermath of working in law enforcement.
Nothing Left to Prove is by turns shocking, terrifying, poignant, and thought-provoking. It’s the very personal story of one man’s career and its effect on his life afterwards, unveiled through Smith’s masterful storytelling. If you think you know cops, if you love compelling true-crime stories, then you’ll love Danny R. Smith’s powerful narrative.
“A riveting law enforcement memoir.” – Bud Johnson
“The ultimate walk-a-mile-in-my-shoes autobiography.” – Moon Mullen
“Takes you through the life of a true and dedicated street cop. Fascinating read!” – Kay Reeves
“A great insight into the job. It also explains a lot about all of the suicides.” – Deac Slocumb
“Danny R. Smith has told his story with open and raw emotion that few would be willing to share openly and with such brutal honesty. His story leaves the reader with a better understanding of the hardships that a career as a Law Enforcement Officer takes on one’s life, and hopefully leaves society with a better appreciation of those who chose to protect us.” – Andrea Self
“Nothing Left to Prove is a gritty, gut-wrenchingly honest, and compelling look at the inside of the life of a law enforcement officer. This author pulls no punches as he lays bare the violence and horrific atrocities that took place during his career.” – Heather Wamboldt
“I was at times, shocked, appalled, and repulsed by what one human being could do to another human being. I was also amazed, appreciative, and extremely respectful of those who serve so resolutely to protect others.” – Michele Carey
“This is an outstanding, exciting, and superbly readable account from a man who lived it all. Poignant, gut-wrenching, and, at times, amusing, this is definitely an un-put-downable narrative.” – Michele Kapugi
“At some point, everyone breaks,” writes Smith (author of two detective novel series, one named for Dickie Floyd and the other for Rich Farris) in the opening pages of this memoir of his years as a South Los Angeles police detective. Smith hit his breaking point during his 143rd death investigation, in which he faced a human head hanging in a tree. From there, his bracing memoir reaches back to chart the journey to that moment: Smith reveals what he experienced during the 1992 L.A. riots, and then back further, to recount “how a dumb white boy from Newhall” became a sheriff’s deputy and then a homicide detective.
In the sharp, hardboiled prose you would expect from a detective novelist, Smith recounts his first encounters with criminals, while working security; his first law enforcement work; and the “great pride, joy, sorrow, and heartbreak” of his two decades in the field. Smith shares vivid details (the cheap perfume his partner sprayed into his mask before entering a crime scene), hard-earned insights, and stories of courage and terror, told with crisp, raw dialogue, a feeling for the drama of potentially violent confrontations, and an undercurrent of despair, despite many heartfelt tributes to cops he trusted and the mentor whose murder he had to look into.
The cop’s eye perspective stays focused on individual crimes rather than broader contemplation of crime and policing. Many stories here–like the one about the mountain man, the pack of dogs, and Smith’s choice to go in without backup–are doozies. Smith is frank about what urban police work actually looks like: “Okay, we’re not supposed to profile,” he concedes when telling the story of pulling over a car filled with what he guessed to be gang-affiliated parolees. The memoir reels through murder after murder–including the one time he believed it when a suspect said “But I didn’t do anything!”–offering a clarifying portrait of the mind and experience of a detective.