Editor note: Law Enforcement Today’s mission is simple: to give a voice to those who serve and protect our communities and our country.  But it’s more difficult than it sounds.  Department policies mean those in uniform don’t have the same freedom of speech that everyone else in America is afforded.

Each week, we’re featuring the stories of some of our nation’s greatest protectors.  They are often graphic and difficult for people to read… but we find these stories need to be told more today than ever before.  You can catch their full video interviews on LET Unity.

This week, we featured Officer Drew Stokes, Trooper Dub Gillum and Officer Stacy West – all of whom were ambushed, shot and left for dead.  Proceeds from LET Unity memberships go directly back into telling the stories of warriors like these.  We hope you’ll consider signing up.  The mainstream media isn’t giving them a platform.  Social media is censoring them.  Help us to help them.


Man screams “I f’ing hate cops” – shoots officer in back five times – The Story of Officer Drew Stokes

It was beautiful afternoon on Tuesday September 26, 2017.  I was shopping at a Publix grocery store just outside of Jacksonville, FL preparing for a flight to Puerto Rico the next day. 

Hurricane Maria had just devastated the island, I made one trip already a couple days before and we brought survivors back with us to Jacksonville so they could escape the mass destruction.  On that flight I met a young girl, probably around six years old and her grandmother.  They were scared and hungry. 

The aircraft, a 1960’s era maritime patrol aircraft known as a P-3 Orion is loud, cold, and dark inside.  It was obvious they were uncomfortable, we comforted them as best as possible with food and drink, then offered the beds in the back of the airplane for their comfort during four hour ride to Jacksonville. 

I was scheduled to fly on September 27, 2019, my intentions were to have subsistence available to passengers that could be prepared with the equipment in the airplane.  I never made it back to the office.

While walking to my truck I was near the first two handicapped spaces on the left side of the one-way isle, the only vehicle traffic should be approaching me, not from behind.  I was about twenty five feet away from my truck when I hear the piercing scream of an insane 18-year-old kid behind me.

“I FU*#ING HATE COPS.”

I immediately drop my groceries and reach for my weapon, I work in aviation and we mostly wear shoulder a holster, this was a cross-draw and I immediately learned why this set-up is a terrible idea. 

While reaching across my body bullet number one impacted my rib cage under my right armpit, the bullet broke two ribs traveled through my liver and stopped within two millimeter of my T-12 vertebrae. 

I was turning my body towards the threat, as trained.  While turning the second bullet impacted my right buttock, traveling through my colon internally and stopped in my left pelvis, next to my bladder. 

Bullet number three went in the top of my right leg and stopped in my pelvis, bullet number four was in and out of my left leg, and bullet number five went in and out of my left arm.  The gun was a stolen Glock 19 and all bullets were hollow points.

At that time I only knew I was shot, I had no idea of the extent of my injuries.  I only knew the impact was burning hot, staggeringly powerful, and I was in significant of pain.  I saw the last two or three muzzle blast, the shooter was a young white male and he sped off in a black BMW Z3.

I was on the ground and I was able to get my weapon pointed down range and start scanning for targets.  The first wound I saw was the two holes in my left forearm, the meat was hanging out of both holes and there was a lot of blood. 

As I’m scanning for a target I notice the blood running beside me like a river, I know I am in bad shape and I needed to start making some decisions in a hurry.  Bystanders started flocking to me telling me the shooter had killed himself and started helping me.

For a brief moment I told myself that this could really be the end, but I got that thought out of my head and began a self-assessment.  I knew I needed to start setting small goals and achieving those goals if I was going to have a chance. 

I said out loud:

“Drew, wiggle those toes, wiggle the damn toes”.

When I felt my toes move in my boots it was a huge morale boost which I desperately needed.   With all the chaos around me, my thinking was clear as a bell. 

I directed someone to call 911 and ues the term officer down and gave them our location. I gave another man the number to my office and told him to contact the Command Duty Officer and relay the events that had just happened.  I told the others:

“Keep the blood in the container, keep the blood in the container.”

It was a term I had learned in my agency’s survival school which I guest instruct and had just completed as a student about six weeks before.  I needed them to keep in the blood inside of me.

While processing the information, I remembered the equation PMA+98.6=life. 

Positive Mental Attitude plus normal body temperature equals life.  I knew I had the body temperature because it was about ninety degrees ambient temperature and the asphalt temperature was boiling hot on my skin. 

Did you know that Law Enforcement Today has a private new home for those who support emergency responders and veterans?  It’s called LET Unity, and it’s where we share the untold stories of those patriotic Americans.  Every penny gets reinvested into giving these heroes a voice.  Check it out today.

I made the decision that I was not going to die I that parking lot, that day.  I knew eventually it would be out of my hands, but I was going to fight as hard as I could until there was no blood left in my body. 

The next goal was to hear sirens approaching, a few minutes later the blaring sirens of a 2017 Dodge Charger from the Clay County Sheriff’s Office closing on my position was music to my ears.  The cavalry, my brothers and sister, were on the way, and they were going to save my life.  I knew they would do everything they could to save me.

Two patrol cars arrive on-scene, I never get a visual on the deputy running towards me. I simply start screaming:

“I’M A COP, I’M A COP, I’M A COP”. 

The reason is I work for a federal agency and our uniforms are brown, the local sheriffs wear green.  I had a gun in my hand and did not want him to see the gun and shoot me.  I felt his hand on my back and hear calm voice say:

“I’m Jacob Hawkins from the Clay County Sheriff’s Office, you’re golden, and you’re going to be fine”.

 Deputy Hawkins and others placed a tourniquet around my leg and my left arm.  Between the gun shots and tourniquets, I have had enough pain at this point, but knew I needed to keep the will to live until the Fire Station 26 paramedics arrived.

When the paramedics arrived on-scene they rolled me over on my back and I saw the concern in their faces.  Deputy Hawkins later told me I was completely grey, all the color had left my body.  As I was loaded into the ambulance my will to live was still strong, but I knew my body was running out of blood, on the ride to Orange Park Medical Center (OPMC) I blacked out several times.

I remember arriving at the trauma center and seeing my supervisor and another co-worker, their encouragement and kind words boosted my will to live, I remember nothing after this short chat until I wake-up a couple weeks later.  The will for to live was taken out of my hands and placed into the hands of the trauma staff at OPMC. 

During the next several hours I wavered between life and death, I received nineteen trauma units of blood which was pour from my liver faster than in could be put into my body. 

My wife, Amanda, was prepped by the lead trauma surgeon Dr. Elias Tsirakoglou that I was probably not going to make it through surgery, but he was going to try.  Dr. Tsirakoglou was carrying my will to live and was not giving up on his abilities to save me, after multiple fail attempts to sew up my liver failed my time of death was near, he just needed a couple more attempts. 

Officer Drew Stokes was shot in the line of duty

Officer Drew Stokes was shot in the line of duty

Those attempts were successful, the hands of God guided the young trauma surgeon that shared my will to live and I received another chance at life.  Because of the will to live, I am living on borrowed time and I need to spread the word as far and wide as I can to never give up.

The will to live is hard, sometimes we feel that death is the easiest way out of whatever situation we may find ourselves in.  Pain hits humans in different ways, sometimes it can be in physical discomfort, other times in can be in paralyzing psychological pain from a career full of horrible images, physical confrontations, and losses of brothers and sisters which we form an unbreakable bond. 

Officer Drew Stokes was shot in the line of duty

These situations finding the will to live is hard, dark, and hopeless.  If you find yourself with these feelings and emotions, please reach out to organizations that are here to help, not judge. 

Your family, friends, brothers and sisters towing the line need you to be there for them as well.  I know what it feels like to be on the brink of death, I know what it feels like to have your family and friends by your side when you wake-up. 

Officer Drew Stokes was shot in the line of duty

The will to live can feel like a cinderblock of burden, it is okay to share the cinderblock to others so they can help you carry your burden.  Someday you may have to help carry their cinderblock as well.  This important story taught to me by an Army veteran named Earl Granville whom I have not yet met, a cinderblock helped him through rough times after the loss of his brother. 

Never give up.

-Drew Stokes

“What’s the problem, officer?”  Texas State Trooper shot 10 times in 2.8 seconds by wanted felon – The Story of Trooper Dub Gillum

Texas State Trooper Dub Gillum shot ten times in 2.8 seconds

October 1, 1998 I was on routine patrol in Hood County, Texas.  And we know it’s never routine.

I stopped a wanted felon that night.  I had been on patrol eight years, field training officer, martial artist, soon to become a firearms instructor, on a waiting list for the governor’s protective detail.

I was gonna move upward and onward.  Trained every day… ran every day.  I had just broke loose my rookie of six months and I handled nights by myself.

I stopped a reckless vehicle driving 85 in a 55.  He stopped in the middle of the road.  It was about 8:15 p.m.

Like I said, I had just broke a rookie loose – I told him how to do it, how to approach on the driver side or the passenger side, different tactical ways to do it.  I go walking up to the vehicle and he rolls down his window, leans out the window, says:

“What’s the problem, officer?”

Then he shot me 10 times.  

10 times in 2.8 seconds.  

How’d I get shot?  I’m an eight-year veteran –  that’s a long time in law enforcement.  

First shot caught me in the forehead, parted my hair, went through my hat.  You know us troopers and our hats – I got a brand new one right there.  Took me a couple of months to get that hat –  but the first shot ruined that hat and it’s hard for me to talk about.

Second round caught me in the left temple.  Bullet went through the left eye, exploded, blew out my right eye.  That’s two.  

Three, four, five, in the forearm.

Six, seven in the hip.

Eight, nine, ten in the back.

I was wearing my vest.  It happened in 2.8 seconds.

The man who shot me was a wanted felon.  Should been in prison three times over.  Had a sorry judge who kept letting him out.  He had assaulted other police officers – I wasn’t the first.  He was one of those what we know as the one-percenters.  He drives off.  I laid in the roadway.  They got me to the hospital.

Did you know that Law Enforcement Today has a private new home for those who support emergency responders and veterans?  It’s called LET Unity, and it’s where we share the untold stories of those patriotic Americans.  Every penny gets reinvested into giving these heroes a voice.  Check it out today.

 

I stayed in the hospital for a couple of weeks, was off work for 14 months.

Besides getting shot, one of the worst days was when the doctor –  head of a medical facility, he was the head of ophthalmology, he said, “Well, you’ll be blind the rest your life – you can sell pencils for a living,” which is what the School for the Blind in Texas does.

So I fired him.  Got another doctor.  What the hell do doctors know, right?

Texas State Trooper Dub Gillum shot ten times in 2.8 seconds

I had another rookie trooper coming in December. I had to be back to work.  So I was off work a little longer and I went through ten surgeries.

I’m blind in the right eye, I can’t see crap out of the left – scares a lot of people that I still carry a gun and drive black and white.  But after 10 eye surgeries, I see on a good day 20-30 in the left eye… I can see pretty good out of the right eye too. One day I may see fully out of them.

If you notice my eyes – one eye is a little different than the other, because I lost my iris and it’s all pupil.  When I go to the schools I love it when kids say:

“Hey, you got two different colored eyes?”

I say “yeah”.

And they always follow up with:

“I got a dog with two colored eyes.”

I’m like:

“I am just a different breed of dog.”

But off work for 14 months, I did a lot of soul searching and a lot eye surgeries to get me back to doing this job.  And I always told my wife that if I ever got my eyesight well enough, I’d go back to patrol.  Then I wake up a day later, a knot on the back of my head.

But being off duty that time and not sure I was gonna recover my vision .. and when I did, DPS created a position for me in Granbury being the safety officer, training officer and public information officer.

Texas State Trooper Dub Gillum shot ten times in 2.8 seconds

And so I’ve continued to do that for the past 20 years, and so I teach officer safety.

I’m not alone.  My story is not unique.

It is, but it isn’t.

And yes it’s unique, but no it’s not because these are the men and women in our law enforcement and our firefighters and our military that serve this country and walk the blue line that we’ve talked about.

One of the classes I teach is “Below 100”.  The concept behind one Below 100 is we haven’t had a year where we’ve lost less than 100 police officers in the line of duty since 1943.

If you go back over the last five years alone we lose one hundred and fifty, hundred and sixty, hundred seventy officers a year.  Many of those are the gunfire, aggravated assault, attempted murder… 

Many of those tenants in Below 100 :

  • Wear your vest.
  • Wear your seat belt.
  • Slow your speed down.
  • What’s important now?
  • Complacency kills.

These are five tenants of the Below 100.  And I teach course on mindset where we talk about presumed compliance and complacency because I can tell you I was complacent that night.

We all get complacent.  I was an eight year veteran.  Whether you’re a rookie at the academy or a seasoned 28-year troop, complacency affects every one of us.  It may affect us whether we know it or not.

Check out the story from this wounded warrior along with tons of other stories from the world of law enforcement and veterans! Click the image to continue.

 

I want to share a little analogy with you.  We refer to ourselves as the sheep dog – we all know that analogy.

We stand guard over the sheep.  We protect them from the wolf.

But you know the sheep are just as afraid of the sheep dog as they are the wolf, because when you think about the sheep dog – they keep the sheep in line.  They nip at their heels and the sheep are nervous around them.

Texas State Trooper Dub Gillum shot ten times in 2.8 seconds

 

Why don’t we further ourselves now to a different comparison?  How about the shepherds?  Because the shepherd cares for his flock…  not only from the wolf, but he meets their needs.  It’s what we do.

We’re not just a protector from the wolf, the predator, to protect the prey.  Because in America, Americans and police officers and our military… sometimes we have to put down the predator.

But then we also turn around and render first aid when the need arises.  When our predators are out there in need, law enforcement steps up at times to help them out because we wear many hats.

Whether it’s a psychologist, a mother or a father.  Words of wisdom… a mentor.  We’re doing the shepherd’s work.  So I encourage us to now refer to us as “shepherd”.

It’s going to be tough.  Teach old dog new tricks … old sheep dog new tricks… because that’s what we do.

But we’re also shepherds, and I think that will build and elevate us within the community as the sheep look to the shepherd and not just to the sheep dog.

You know when we lose a police officer, it’s not just an agency – it’s the entire United States.

It hurts all of us.

And so we have to train better and be ready.

God bless America.  

Officer shot repeatedly, left for dead after 911 call to check on child – The Story of Officer Stacy West

Officer Stacy West

Officer Stacy West

I just remember thinking “oh my God I’m being shot right now” and everything at that point – although it’s happening quick – it’s also happening very slow in my mind.

Like there’s not enough time to really react.

My name is Stacy West.  I am medically retired police officer from the city of Auburndale, which is located in central Florida.  

Officer Stacy West

I worked for the agency only 18 months before I was catastrophically injured on a domestic violence call.

(Below: Dispatch call from when Officer Stacy West was shot.)

That audio is really hard to listen to for a lot of people.

And I’ve listened to it a gagillion times it’s pretty gut wrenching.

So basically what happened is I was called out to a 911 hangup and I was told it was possibly a family disturbance.

And I tell them that I’m on my way out there and I’m probably about 10 minutes from the residence.

It sounded really familiar to me, this place –  I knew had been there before.  So I looked it up on the map and I was like… yeah, I remember exactly who this person is.

I had some dealings with him a month before for a barking dog complaint.

Officer Stacy West

He was pretty aggressive then, but I shook it off as it’s early in the morning and you know he was just cranky because I woke him up in the middle of the night.

So I walk up to the door. I had my hand on my gun and the first safety down just in case I needed to pull it.

And I get up to the door, reach over with my left hand, knock, ring the doorbell.

Then I turned to check the window, because where I had to walk up to was between the window and the door and on the other side the door is a garage wall.  So that was the only place I could stand.

I turned to check the window, and when I do… he starts shooting me.

Officer Stacy West

The first round gets my arm, and it just feels like a lot of pressure.

And at that point because I’m looking at the window, I don’t know if it’s coming from the window or coming from the door.

Officer Stacy West

And it didn’t really feel like pain just a lot of pressure. 

That round actually blew out both of my arteries, damaged my median nerve, and flung my hand backwards.

When it flung me backwards, it slowly turned me a little bit.

Officer Stacy West

And then he shot me in my duty weapon – went across the top of the slide, separating the slide from the grip, ejecting the magazine out onto the ground and forcing the round inside to fire and forcing my gun to be completely trapped within my holster and was not able to be removed.

Officer Stacy West

Now I’m facing the door and all of this is happening really, really quickly because he’s slapping the trigger as quick as he can.

And I just remember thinking “Oh my God I’m being shot right now”.  Everything at that point, although it’s happening quick, it’s also happening very slow in my mind – like there’s not enough time to really react.

Officer Stacy West

So he gets my abdomen and I just scream at the top of my lungs.  That round actually forces me backwards, and as I’m falling backwards I can see the sparks coming out of the door and it was just like the rounds were just coming right over my face.

Officer Stacy West

When I hit the ground, I immediately roll over and just try to get away from him and I dragged myself across the ground with the left side of my body, and my mic had fallen off my shoulder onto the pocket of my shirt.

That triggered me to key up. 

I couldn’t hear anything, he had just perforated my eardrums.  So I grabbed the mic and I key up and I just screamed “help me”.  Then I dragged myself a little farther, and I can still hear him shooting and I key up again I screamed “ I’m hit” and I dragged myself a little further and screamed that I need 911 and I’m going towards this hedge line.

Officer Stacy West

I could see like an opening in the hedges that were in his yard, and I’m just trying to get away as quick as possible and I have no idea if he’s gonna come out and finish the job. 

Officer Stacy West

Also I have no idea if I’m getting out on the radio, because I can’t hear anything and I can’t hear anybody say anything back to me.

Officer Stacy West

So I pull myself to the neighbor’s house around the hedge line, and I can hear their garage door opening. I get just near the garage door and I look up and it’s about halfway up, and I can see this Spanish family two men and a woman standing inside the garage.

And I look up at them and I say “help me, please help me”.

And I think they panicked.

They went back in the house and hit the garage door button and the garage door started to come back down.

And I’m not yet inside the garage.

So I pull myself in and I’m exhausted.  I had just pulled myself 50 feet.  So I’m just completely exhausted and I get just inside the garage.

And I’m looking around.

There’s nowhere else for me to go and I just roll over, and just lay there and I pick up my mic and it sounds like everybody on the radio is just calm like I was afraid I hadn’t really gotten out and I key up again and I said “did you guys hear me?  I’ve been hit.”

And they said, “we heard you we’re on our way.”

Now I’ve turned my radio completely down because I have no idea where this guy is.

And I have no backup there, I’m alone and I’m trying to tell the family inside to come back out and close this garage door down.

Officer Stacy West

So they come out and they hit the button and the door’s just like going up and down up and down and I’m still trying to focus on giving my partners directions to find me and they go back inside the garage door is still up.

It’s like this nightmare situation.

And I have no idea where this guy is and I’m just scared to death.

And just alone.

And then they finally come back out – they don’t come totally out, they just crack the door a little bit.

I see a hand come out and hit the garage door button and the garage door starts to come down.

And I’m just laying there now –  alone – and thinking about how unfair this is, and unfair for my family and my fiancée – he’s my husband now.

And my mom.

And I just kept thinking about them over and over again and how they weren’t gonna get a chance to say goodbye to me.  In that moment I thought I would never take another breath, that was going to be it for me.

Officer Stacy West

And I think the loneliness was probably the worst part.

So I just try to stay focused and try to – you know – give instructions on exactly where I was.

The family does eventually come back out and try to call 911 and they spoke Spanish so they didn’t understand anything I was saying and I didn’t understand anything that they were saying

But my partners… it feels like it takes them forever to get there, and everybody is talking on the radio, everybody is just trying to get out.

At one point I can’t key up anymore, and somebody had been giving bad directions.

They’re like “I think she said she’s in for 407, a baby blue house”, and it wasn’t even close to where I said I was.  I was he trying to key up and I kept getting a busy signal because I hadn’t pushed my emergency button and I just remember finally getting through and saying you know get off the radio Goddamn it I’m over here – you guys are going to the wrong place.

So it took about seven minutes for my partners to actually get there and locate me another nine minutes for the fire department to get there and about 17 for the ambulance to show up.

In a nutshell that’s the experience that I had.

Officer Stacy West

The man responsible for the attack took a plea deal – 27 years, and he’ll have to serve every bit of it.

Officer Stacy West

What happened on the legal side of things was a nightmare in and of itself for Stacy, who said she was made to feel like property of the state instead of the victim that she was.

She got no say in whether it would go to trial or the criminal would get a plea deal.  She was initially told there’s no way a plea deal would be offered.

Then Stacy was told it wasn’t attempted murder on a police officer, because he shot her through the door and it couldn’t be proven that he “knew it was a cop”.

To hear her full story, you can watch it on LET Unity – it  can be found here.

Once again, the entire reason we launched LET Unity was to give a voice to officers like Stacy who have never been able to tell their stories.  Proceeds from LET Unity memberships go directly back into telling the stories of warriors like Stacy.  We hope you’ll consider signing up.  The mainstream media isn’t giving them a platform.  Social media is censoring them.  Help us to help them.

Florida officer shot repeatedly

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