Editor Note: This story is graphic and may be difficult for some people to read.
Texas State Trooper Dub Gillum was shot in the line of duty. He survived and joined us to tell his story, which can be seen here.
The entire reason we launched LET Unity was to give a voice to officers like Dub who have never been able to tell their stories. It’s a tragic story – but also one filled with hope. With lessons. And with a dose of reality that America needs. Proceeds from LET Unity memberships go directly back into telling the stories of warriors like Dub. 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.
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.
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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?
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 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.
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.
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.
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.