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Todd Young's Long Road Back

Shot on an Oakland street, Fremont police officer Todd Young endures numerous surgeries and continuous rehab to regain his status as a gang investigator and SWAT officer.

June 13, 2012  |  by - Also by this author

VIDEO: Shots Fired: Oakland, Calif., Carjacking

Once he reached his compatriot, Barrientos reloaded his Glock, packed a bag of shirts, socks, and toothpaste, and headed toward the U.S.-Mexico border. Police located Barrientos' cell phone in San Diego near the San Ysidro port of entry by 3 p.m. the day after the shooting. His exact location was still unknown.

San Diego police sergeant Jason Wheedon received a description of Barrientos and the vehicle. He then printed out about 20 fliers of Barrientos' driver's license and headed into the area to search for him.

Wheedon exited the freeway at Camino De La Plaza, the last off-ramp before the Mexican border, where nearly 20,000 people cross a day. It was at a red light that Sgt. Wheedon looked up into his rearview mirror and spotted a familiar face riding shotgun in a gray Camaro.

"The passenger was Barrientos," Wheedon says. "He was sitting there with a white hoodie. I looked down at my stack of papers and said, 'That's going to be him.'"

Wheedon maneuvered behind the Camaro and ran the plate. A dispatcher informed him the vehicle was registered to an Oakland address. Wheedon tailed the Camaro into the parking lot and positioned his patrol car behind the suspect vehicle.

Barrientos exited the vehicle.

Wheedon called out to the suspect.  "I said, 'Barrientos,' and he looked at me," Wheedon says. "I drew my weapon and told him, 'Don't move and turn away.' He complied and raised his hands."

Months of Pain

Young spent seven weeks at Highland, and endured eight surgeries. The initial surgery stopped the bleeding. Once he was stabilized, doctors used the sedative drug Versed to induce a coma to allow his body to heal. A second surgery repaired his bladder. A third addressed damage to his rectum.

The trauma to Young's body from the shooting and the surgery was severe. For seven weeks, he was hooked up to a colostomy bag to catch his waste. He took his nutrition through a feeding tube. And once he came out of a coma, Young had to learn to walk again.

Nearly two months after the shooting, Young was discharged from the hospital and went home to the care of his wife, son (now 10), and daughter (now 6). But his visits to the doctor weren't over, as he went through a colostomy reversal surgery in February 2011.

Young rehabbed; Barrientos went to trial. And with the help of Young's testimony, the prosecutors won their case. On November 2011, a jury found Barrientos guilty of attempted murder of a police officer. In late December, an Alameda County judge gave the gang member two life terms.

Getting Stronger

Young's rehabilitation has been grueling. At first he had to relearn how to walk. He can now run a 12-minute mile and has added strength training. Running longer distances is harder on his hips and he still gets a numb foot, but in January, he ran the obstacle course used for the Fremont PD's SWAT qualification under the supervision of a physical therapist.

"I started lifting weights and getting strong because I didn't want to be that officer who pulled up on a car stop to help you, and then you say, 'Oh, he's hurt. He's going to be more of a liability than anything.'"

Young's tenth and final surgery was conducted earlier this year. The stitches of his abdominal incision had ripped out when he struggled to wake up from the coma. In January, a surgeon at Stanford University Medical Center used pig mesh and a skin graft to hold his stomach in place.

When told of the procedure, Young joked, "So you're going to put pig into a pig?"

Young cracks jokes to deal with his medical issues, but he is as determined as they come. Doctors informed him he has recovered to about 60-70% of what he was physically before the shooting.

He takes physical therapy under the direction of Dr. Chris Chung at the South Bay Sports and Preventative Medicine clinic.

Young plans to return to light duty in August in an administrative role. He keeps working toward his goal of returning to the regional task force and Fremont PD SWAT team, a feat that will require him to pass the agency's grueling SWAT training. Young has circled early 2013 on his calendar. That's when he hopes to test his mettle.

"Even though my doctor said I'll be 60% of what I was, my body will continue to heal and get stronger," Young says. "My body will compensate. I will be able to do all the stuff I need to do."


Shots Fired: Oakland, California 08/27/2010

Returning To Duty: Todd Young (photos)

Returning To Duty: Officer Recovers After Being Struck by Drunk Driver

«   Page 3 of 3   »

Tags: Returning To Duty, Fremont (Calif.) PD, Trauma Care, Oakland PD, Tactical Medicine, Gang Task Force, Nortenos, Gang Enforcement

Comments (21)

Displaying 1 - 21 of 21

Nick @ 6/14/2012 6:21 PM

Simply fantastic, amazing, and inspiring story. Glad he's going to be ok, and with an attitude like that he'll have no issues getting back on SWAT.

Kristine @ 6/18/2012 2:54 PM

Excellent story, and very inspiring. Interesting to hear from all the parties to include the trauma team and doctors that helped. What an inspiring story! Congratulations to him and kudos to Police Mag for telling such an important story.

John @ 6/23/2012 8:47 AM

Our prayers are with him! God willing Todd will be back putting badguys away in the near future.

David @ 6/23/2012 9:26 AM

An inspiring story of dedication to duty and survival. It should serve as a lesson to us all! There are no substitutes for mental and physical toughness and preparedness for the unthinkable! Great job and good Lu k! My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Jack Swenson @ 6/23/2012 10:05 AM

God's blessing Officer Young.

Hope to see you back on the street soon!

Jim Mccaughey @ 6/23/2012 10:14 AM

Todd, welcome back! You give every LEO Inspiration and the Fighting edge that we all strive for.

DonG @ 6/23/2012 10:48 AM

Not only is this inspiring, but it is great that his department stands with him during this period of time. This isn't always the case and I felt personal solace knowing that there are still some great LE organizations out there. My prayers and best wishes are with you and your family, Todd.

Candelyn Carpenter @ 6/23/2012 1:58 PM

Do let them win you have fought to hard to get where you are today to to let them win now. Just in case no one has told you I will. We need more cops like you, I am so thankful that you are going to be okay. Jesus loves you, and I am sure a heck of alot of other people do to. Jesus has a very special place for you when the time comes. However the time is not here. Give 'em hell Todd. Remember God can do a lot more damage than they can. I am so proud of you for taking a stand in something that no body else has the guts to do. Hang in there. We need you. Candelyn Carpenter

John @ 6/23/2012 2:05 PM

God bless you brother!

Welcome back!

You did good bro!

I wasn't there but from what I have read, there was not a single thing I would have done differently!

You can't know when a goblin is going to get froggy and try to get in the wind!

I carry a Colt's 1911 (same capacity as your Sig P220) I carry ten round magazines for reloads....just a thought bro!

God bless!

Most respectfully


Dexter @ 6/23/2012 8:11 PM

Winston Churchill said it best....never, never, never, never, never give up! God bless you Todd you are in our prayers.

Sean @ 6/24/2012 12:42 PM

Outstanding drive and determination. You will do it! I'm awe-inspired by your story...

Bob Harrison @ 6/25/2012 12:17 PM

Get well soon...I will remember you in my prayers for complete recovery and back with SWAT....God Bless you Brother........

Bob Harrison @ 6/25/2012 12:19 PM

God Bless you Brother...In my prayers for a complete recovery and back on SWAT soon.....

J. Emerson @ 6/25/2012 1:35 PM

Continue with committment and perserverance, it is the spirit of a Warrior, for a Warrior knows no pain and no job is to tough. Get well soon my brother, you have set the example for all to follow. Peace be with you and your family.


J. Emerson Garrison

Abel Arriazola @ 6/27/2012 5:51 PM

Young you are a brave and courageous officer who gave full commitment in apprehending a dangerous suspect. In your recovery don't give this punk on second of your time, energy, or mind, instead, focus all you have towards recovery. Be just as aggressive towards your healing process as your were chasing the suspect and God will take care of the rest. Thank you for all you do. You are commendable in every respect. Never give up! Capt. Abel Arriazola

Dusan @ 7/3/2012 10:47 AM

This is great article

Rodney @ 7/4/2012 9:28 PM

May God quicken your recovery and further strengthen your resolve. Hope this quote helps,
"Iron is full of impurities that weaken it; through forging, it becomes steel and is transformed into a razor-sharp sword. Human beings develop in the same fashion." -- Morihei Ueshiba (Founder of Aikido)

Thomas Buchenauer @ 7/15/2012 9:18 PM

Close call......God Bless....and a speedy recovery....

sal @ 7/17/2012 7:34 AM

Keep going big dog, till the wheels fall off.

Shawna @ 7/23/2012 4:58 AM

Hero...never quit. I wish you a full recovery. I know you'll reach your goals!!!!

brian @ 7/31/2012 3:34 PM

Great story

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