BATON ROUGE, LA – Nick Tullier, an East Baton Rouge sheriff’s deputy who was shot in the head and stomach during a July 2016 ambush that killed three other law enforcement officers, has passed away.
Neither page mentioned the cause of death but his father said in early May that his son had become septic and was in critical condition.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards ordered flags to fly at half-staff over the Capitol and other public buildings in East Baton Rouge Parish in his honor.
Edwards called Tullier, a corporal in the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office, and the other officers shot on July 17, 2016, “true heroes.”
The Sunday morning ambush came less than two weeks after Alton Sterling, a black Baton Rouge resident, was fatally shot July 5 in a struggle with two white police officers when he tried to pull a loaded handgun from his pants pocket outside a convenience store.
Video of the altercation on death spread on social media and led to protests in Baton Rouge and beyond. Neither officer was charged criminally after state and federal investigations.
Then on July 17, black nationalist Gavin Eugene Long, 29, opened fire on police with a semiautomatic rifle at a B-Quik convenience store on Airline Highway them, The Advocate reported.
The ambush ended when a member of the SWAT team shot and killed Long, of Kansas City, Missouri.
East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux issued a statement about Cpl. Tullier’s death. He said:
“I am heartbroken at the passing of a true hero, Cpl. Nick Tullier this morning. Nick’s injury was a result of his selfless actions to courageously answer the call to protect and serve. For nearly six years he has defied all odds in recovery through his unwavering tenacity.”
Tullier, a father of two, had 18 years of service with the sheriff’s department when he was shot.
Tullier, who was a father of two and had 18 years of service with the sheriff’s department, was drinking coffee with East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Sgt. Bruce Simmons on that summer day in 2016 when they heard a call for shots fired and an officer down, according to The Advocate.
Cpl. Tullier and Sgt. Simmons raced to the scene at the convenience store on Airline Highway.
Tullier spotted the gunman’s car, a rented Chevy Malibu with Missouri tags, and was running the plates when Long opened fire on him.
One round struck Tullier in the stomach and a second hit him in the head, shattering his skull and injuring his brain. A third slug struck him in the shoulder.
Long killed East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Deputy Brad Garafola and Baton Rouge Police Officers Montrell Jackson and Matthew Gerald Garafola.
Simmons, who was shot in the left arm not far from where his friend was gunned down, underwent numerous surgeries to repair the damage inflicted by Long.
Long had emailed a three-page manifesto to a man in Ohio just hours before he ambushed the law enforcement officers, investigators found.
Tullier’s father had created the “Nick Tullier Strong” page on Facebook and posted frequent updates on his son’s condition over the years.
Rehabilitation became a full-time family occupation and Cpl. Tullier’s parents never gave up hope. They followed him to specialty hospitals in Texas and lived in an RV near whatever hospital or treatment facility their son was in at the time. They were able to move him back home to Baton Rouge in 2020.
In Denham Springs, the town where Tullier grew up and played high school football, the local Kiwanis Club created the “Nick Tullier Service Above Self” award.
The club bestows the award on a department, unit, or individual in Livingston Parish law enforcement who has put the needs of others before themselves “without desiring praise, thought, or reward for their actions.”
The hero died on May 5, 2022, almost six years after he was shot in the ambush. James Tullier wrote on Facebook Thursday morning:
“Our precious son died.”
Police officer: I was ambushed, beaten and shot. That was only the start of my battle
February 19, 2022
This editorial has been submitted to Law Enforcement Today by Jeremy Scharlow
On May 7, 2016, I found myself in a position every police officer dreads.
With no provocation or warning I was attacked, punched in the head and shoulders, and eventually shot for simply trying to tell someone their headlights were not working.
Shockingly, the physical healing process was not terrible. I was able to regain most of the use in my dominate arm and I now only suffer from moderate nerve pain and minor mobility/strength issues.
Although physically “okay,” my mental state was an entirely different story.
I had spent countless hours practicing all the tactical scenarios I could imagine. I visualized what I would do if injured and what I would do to ensure I would never fail.
The movements and methods became second nature. I could draw and fire accurately while under pressure and was confident in my tactical abilities. I knew, if confronted, I would never lose a fight.
I then found myself shot. I had been ambushed.
I survived the physical attack, being repeatedly punched in the head and shoulders, and being shot in my dominate shooting arm. I survived!
Immediately after my ambush, I felt immortal.
I felt as though I could not die and that I could overcome any attack that came against me. Although I thought I was prepared for any fight, I found myself completely unprepared for the battle I would soon face. The battle in my own mind.
I began having nightmares and other issues associated with PTSD. Over time, I began struggling more, began dealing with suicidal ideation, depression, and turned to alcohol to help “numb” the pain.
In my quest to numb the pain through alcohol, I made one of the dumbest decisions of my life. I got behind the wheel of a vehicle and decided to drive while intoxicated.
I could give several “reasons” why I made the decision to get behind the wheel and drive after consuming copious amounts of alcohol. Not a single one of them would justify the action itself. I risked my life and the life of others, all because I was unable to cope with my own issues in a healthy manner.
Luckily, before I hurt someone, I was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol.
Although it was the correct action, my arrest helped drive me to the lowest point I had yet encountered. I found myself feeling as though nothing I did mattered, I felt shame, and I felt useless.
I regularly battled intrusive suicidal thoughts and I found myself mixing alcohol and prescription drugs to help me forget.
This landed me in the hospital. Having mixed my prescription drugs and alcohol I began audibly hallucinating. I heard voices telling me how worthless I was and how I did not have any reason to live. I called for help and I physically resisted the help that was sent.
In my altered state, I believed my fellow officers were attempting to hurt me. I said some of the vilest awful things to these men and women who were simply trying to get me the help I needed.
After waking in the hospital the next morning, I realized I was failing at managing my emotional state and allowing it to rule my life. I decided that alcohol and other substances used to help “numb the pain” were doing nothing but causing more trouble. I decided to look of other options.
I began speaking about my experiences. I discussed my ambush, how I was injured, my healing process, the difficulties with my department and the retirement system, my firing, amongst other things.
Sharing my pain, allowed others to see. It allowed others to recognize the difficulties I was dealing with and I found empathy. While empathy helped, it was not enough. I continued to find myself struggling while I continued to look for new ways to help heal.
This is when Operation Enduring Warrior (OEW) found me. In the depths of my abyss, thinking no one understood how helpless, how ashamed, and how worthless I felt; these men and women showed me the light within the darkness.
I found a tribe of other “fucked up” individuals experiencing a lot of the emotions and difficulties I was more than familiar with. I became deeply involved with OEW and through my involvement I found new purpose. This purpose gave me hope… a reason to get up every morning and do better.
I found a place where the focus was removed from my injuries (both physical and mental). I was surrounded by other officers, military vets, and fire fighters (some of them missing limbs) who all shared their experiences of trauma and how they had found ways to cope. No matter the background, the message was the same. NOT DEAD… CAN’T QUIT.
I found myself in a position where I thought myself useful again. I would be able to continue my service to others, although not as I had originally thought. I was thrust into a position where I could help our brother’s and sister’s struggling by showing them a path to healing. A bath that begins in service to others.
To do better I knew I needed to make life changes. I created healthy routines including working out and I limiting my alcohol consumption. I increased my participation in counseling and for the first time in years, I set goals.
Almost immediately my mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing improve dramatically. In finding my tribe with OEW, I found my family. I found others who refuse to become a statistics and live to help others. They showed me through action, that healing is found in service to others.
While I continue to suffer from symptoms associated with PTSD, I have found a new calling and, in this calling, I have found personal growth and healing.
“There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.” ~ John Holmes.
Want to make sure you never miss a story from Law Enforcement Today? With so much “stuff” happening in the world on social media, it’s easy for things to get lost.