he IACP/DuPont Kevlar Survivors' Club® pays tribute to those deserving officers who have avoided serious or potentially fatal injuries through the use of any kind of body armor. This column is dedicated to sharing their experiences, in hopes of persuading others to wear their armor. If body armor has helped you or a member of your department survive such an accident or assault, please contact Anna Knight, Club Administrator, IACP/DuPont Kevlar Survivors' Club®, 5401 Jefferson Davis Highway, Richmond, VA 23234; 804-383-3853; 800-441-2746; fax: 804-383-2477; e-mail: Anna.G.Knight-1@USA.dupont.com.
Ohio Officer Survives Shooting
Officer Jane L. Bogenschutz of the Columbus, Ohio, Division of Police and three fellow officers were dispatched to a multi-story apartment building to investigate a report of a man with a gun menacing other residents. The suspect, inside an apartment, believed that the officers were fakes. Other residents came out of their apartments to view the police activity and were instructed by the officers to leave the hallway.
The suspect appeared without notice in the doorway of his apartment with weapon in hand. Bogenschutz fired at the suspect and other officers fired as well. Bogenschutz felt something hit her vest in the upper left torso. She believed at the time that she had been hit by a piece of drywall, as bullets had struck the wall next to her. Officers called for SWAT activation.
Bogenschutz helped evacuate residents of neighboring apartments, including a frightened elderly women who had to be coaxed out of her apartment. She then briefed a SWAT officer on the suspect and conditions inside the building. The SWAT officer observed that Bogenschutz's uniform shirt was torn and on closer observation determined the hole was caused by a bullet.
Bogenschutz was transported to a trauma center for medical evaluation. When she removed her uniform shirt and ballistic vest, a bullet fell to the floor of the examination room. X-rays revealed no penetration wound. Examination of Bogenschutz's ballistic armor found that a .45-caliber round struck her chest and was stopped by the vest shock plate. Investigators determined the round was a ricochet round fired by another officer. Bogenschutz was treated and released for a contusion caused by the impact of the round on her ballistic armor. The suspect was arrested and charged with felonious assault.
Body Armor Protects Texas Officer in Dangerous Crash
Officer Gregory W. Stewart of the Weatherford, Texas, Police Department was dispatched to assist a neighboring agency with a vehicle pursuit. He planned to move ahead of the pursuit and be positioned to deploy spike strips.
But as Stewart made a left turn at an intersection with the light in his favor, the fleeing motorist, driving a one-ton pickup truck, entered the intersection against a red light and rammed Stewart's patrol car. The suspect vehicle crushed the side of the patrol car, penetrating one and a half feet into the passenger compartment.
Officer Stewart was seriously injured. He suffered a concussion, a broken pelvis, and bruised kidneys. The attending physician informed Stewart that his body armor protected him from potentially fatal injuries. Stewart was hospitalized for six days and is recovering. He plans to return to full duty.
The 25-year-old driver of the truck fled the scene but was later found and arrested. He was charged with intoxicated assault with a motor vehicle and failure to stop and render aid. Criminal charges against the motorist are pending final court action.
Detroit Officer's Vest Stops .357 Round at Close Range
Officers Steven M. Coykendall and Gary Toms of the Detroit Police Department stopped a vehicle that matched the description of a vehicle wanted in connection with a shooting. Coykendall approached on the driver's side of the suspect vehicle and made contact with three occupants. The driver and the rear passenger produced identification to the officer. The front seat passenger could not provide any type of identification.
Coykendall conducted a Terry search on the driver and detained him at the front of the scout car. He went back to the suspect vehicle to help Toms with the other two occupants. The front seat passenger bolted from the suspect vehicle and brandished a .357 revolver. Coykendall attempted to grab the armed suspect by the arm. The suspect fired a single round that struck the officer in the lower right torso at close range. The bullet was stopped by Coykendall's vest but the impact knocked Coykendall to the ground. He quickly got back to his feet and moved away from the shooter.
After shooting Officer Toms, who suffered a penetrating bullet wound, the suspect entered the suspect vehicle and drove toward Coykendall. Fearing for his life, Coykendall opened fire on the approaching vehicle. The suspect continued past the officer and fled the scene.
Police later identified the shooter, a felon, and arrested him for the attempted murder of police officers and for being in possession of a firearm. This matter is pending before a Wayne County court. The officers were transported to an area hospital for care. Officer Coykendall was treated and released and Officer Toms was admitted for a penetrating gunshot wound. ■