January 24, 2008

Positivity: Officer returns to field after being shot

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:59 am

From Rocky Mount, North Carolina:

Sunday, January 06, 2008

It’s five months later. The wound has closed, the bleeding has stopped and the pain has almost faded.

But when Darrell Martin touches his left side, he feels more than a scar.

When his hand brushes against the divot on his torso, he can vaguely detect the discomfort of sandy pavement against his face, a warm liquid trickling toward his spine, the glow of blue lights flashing through the dark.

And he can almost hear the gunshots.

For the first time since being wounded in the line of duty, Rocky Mount Senior Police Officer Darrell Martin took to the streets in a cruiser Saturday – five months to the day from when he was shot.


“Some people wrote me off, thinking ‘He’s not coming back,’” Martin said Thursday from an office room at the police station, where he has answered calls and worked dispatch on light duty the last four weeks. “For whatever reason, some people thought I might be too scared to come back, too hurt or too mad. But I couldn’t have lived with myself if I had just taken the easy way out.”

If Martin was the type to take the easy way out, he probably wouldn’t have taken a bullet on Aug 5. It might have gone to someone else.

Martin was filling out paperwork in his cruiser about 3 a.m. that morning when he heard a familiar name spoken across his radio. The young man – a known local gang member wanted for a traffic violation – was driving down Sunset Avenue with four of his friends. Two of Martin’s fellow officers were about to pull them over.

“I heard that on the radio knowing that these guys are in a gang and knowing that gangs are synonymous with drugs, money and guns,” said Martin, a 14-year member of the department. “So I put up my paperwork and hurried over there.”

Martin arrived as Sgt. Silvio Jacob and Officer Jerrod Edmonds were approaching the vehicle. It seemed like things were under control, Martin said.

That changed when one of the passengers bolted from the car. Jacob and Edmonds chased, and Martin was left with the remaining four suspects.

Martin ordered the driver to the ground as two of the other three men began to climb out of the backseat. Martin said he yelled for them to hit the ground as well.

“I never saw the fifth person,” Martin said, his eyes glazing slightly as he turned to look out a window.

“I never saw him. Knowing that there were five, forgetting that there were five, I never saw the fifth person. That fifth person opened fire,” Martin said.

Four shots exploded from Whitaker’s gun. Martin balked at the sound.

Then he fell to the pavement.

Two of the shots struck Martin – one in his left torso, the other through his right forearm. Martin fired back six times, but Whitaker was gone.

Leaning on his good side, Martin called for help on the radio.

“Three-thirteen central: officer down. Been shot twice. I need first responders and rescue crews. Bleeding bad.”

Static.

Feeling blood trickling toward his back, Martin called again.

“Three-thirteen central: officer down. I’ve been shot twice. I’m losing a lot of blood. I need first responders and rescuers.”

Eventually his fellow officers responded. Rescue teams were there minutes later.

But for the few moments he laid on the road that night, Martin said time stood still.

“When I was laying on my side on Sunset Avenue, and I was by myself and the whole world. When he fired at me and I fired back. As fast as everything was happening – lightening speed – it was like slow motion,” Martin said, looking to the floor. “I was going in slow motion. After it was all over with, I was left with pain on my side. It was just me and those two suspects.

“While I was waiting for help to come, I said a prayer. I said ‘God, forgive me for my sins. If I’m gonna die, then I’m ready to go.’”

Even as the fear of death loomed, the veteran officer remained in control.

“Then I turned to the two guys on the ground and shouted, ‘If you move, I’ll kill you.’”

As he screamed, Martin said he thought of his wife Yoko, who he met and married while serving the Marine Corps in Okinawa, Japan. And his three children, who at the time were sleeping most likely at home.

Meanwhile, his blood poured on the asphalt.

“I didn’t want to die,” Martin said.

A direct gunshot to the side typically can lead to severe complications and – quite often – death. Thanks to what doctors at Nash General Hospital called a medical miracle, though, Martin lived. Born with an extra rib, Martin was spared when the bullet struck his rib cage and was deflected out his back and away from his liver, kidney and spleen.

Martin was up and walking the next day. The day after that, he went home.

Go here for the rest of the story.

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