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Departments : Shots Fired

Shots Fired: Fort Worth, Texas 11•09•1994

Officer Billie Daniels was wounded on a raid, and then the real battle began.

February 01, 2008  |  by - Also by this author

"Every time he closes his eyes," the EMT instructed Myers, "you've got to hit him in his forehead, hard. That's the only thing that's going to keep him alive. Don't let him lose consciousness or he'll shut down."

"And that's the way it was," Daniels recalled in a recent phone interview. "As we were rolling to the hospital, I could hear the sirens from the other officers, see those officers that were blocking the intersections along our route, and the paramedics working on me, and the entire time Fred's popping away, jamming my forehead.

"I was so pissed, I wanted a piece of Fred," says Daniels. "I was about to come up off that gurney, but they had me tied down.

"Then I would feel myself shutting down or feel my eyes close, and Fred would lay into me again and we'd start all over. Right before they stopped at the hospital, Fred hit me once more for good measure. I remember that he hit me pretty good."

God's Light

The ambulance arrived at the hospital in six minutes. Daniels had been on the scene for 15. The femoral artery has a 3.5-minute bleed out.

Dr. Jim Sloan, the physician who helped save Daniels' life, said, "In man's light, it was his time to die. In God's light, it wasn't."

But it couldn't have come any closer. The doctors worked on Daniels for six-and-a-half hours, losing him briefly at the four-hour mark before successfully resuscitating him.

The surgeons had their work cut out for them. A bullet had entered Daniels' left upper thigh, severing the femoral artery and striking a nerve. Then it ricocheted off the pelvic bone and struck a rib. From there it changed directions, coming back down and nicking the femoral artery in Daniels' right thigh before veering left where it came to rest in his pelvic bone.

Unexpected Visitors

Daniels recuperated in the hospital for 24 days, where he was visited by many friends and co-workers.

But there were also a few unexpected visitors. Some of Fort Worth's Blood gang members had come to respect Daniels through his contacts with them. He knew as much. Still, he was taken aback when the gang members visited him in the hospital and made an unusual offer.

"The guy who did this to you, we don't like him," said the de facto spokesman of the throng who'd convened in his hospital room. "If you want us to, we'll take him out and his whole family."

Daniels laughs now thinking about it.

But he was shocked at the time and had to find a way to communicate to the young thugs that he didn't want them to retaliate against the shooter or his kin.

"I said, 'No, no, no. I'd have to live with what'd happen to you guys—death penalties, long prison terms. You can't do that.' They said, 'Okay, we'll respect that.'"

Blind Justice

Unfortunately, the criminal justice system let Daniels down. During the trial, Edmond's defense attorney played to the parental sympathies of the jurors. So the suspect received a sentence of 10 years probation.

With the announcement, the courtroom went quiet.

"You could hear a pin drop, but I could hear a fellow officer unsnap his holster," Daniels recalls. "And I could hear the 'sound,' you know the sound a gun makes when it's coming out of the holster. He carries a .45. And I grabbed his elbow and was trying to push it back down. A sergeant came up, and I said, 'Don't do this. He ain't worth it, man.' But the officer said, 'I'm going to kill this motherf'er in this courtroom. I don't give a damn what happens to me, but I'm going to do this.' So we talked the officer down. As we were talking him down, I looked into the courtroom.

"All the jurors were hiding behind their seats, crying. The judge was behind his desk. The bailiff was an old guy; he had his hand at his gun and he was shaking. The defense attorney had jumped under the desk covering the defendant. We talked the officer into letting that gun go, and we gave it to the sergeant.

"Then the officer stood up with tears in his eyes and he grabbed the badge on his shirt, jerked it off his shirt, and threw it onto the courtroom floor. He pointed at the jurors, and said, 'I'll be back in the courtroom when this guy sells crack cocaine to your children. And I hope you're in the stands, I hope you're sitting in the stands watching your trial go—your trial—because of him.' Then he walked out. That was very intense."

Reflections

Daniels' gratitude extends to many people. To his chief, Thomas Windham, who had emphasized the importance of a range training program that incorporated shooting from a variety of positions and not the static range qualification familiar to all too many officers.

Daniels also acknowledges that the confluence of experience and professionalism that came together that day saved his life, the life of Rudy Johnson, and possibly the lives of other officers, as well.

And finally, Daniels is grateful for the emergency medical care that he was given by the EMTs and the head smacks that Fred Meyers gave him in the ambulance. Both helped him make it to the hospital and ultimately survive.

WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

Think about the raid that wounded Fort Worth officer Billie Daniels:

  • The team had good intel on the suspects, but it was not enough to prevent the firefight that ensued subsequent to the warrant's service. What means do you have of acquiring suspect information prior to a raid?
  • During the firefight, a couple of exterior containment officers had to take cover from rounds exiting the walls. What kind of measures do you take during containments to minimize the likelihood of friendly crossfire?
  • Daniels' life was saved in large part by the presence of an on-scene EMT who ensured that makeshift tourniquets were quickly applied to his wounds. How comfortable do you feel about the prospects of yourself or your fellow officers having the ability to take such actions? Do you have professional medical personnel among your reserve officer pool?
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Tags: Shots Fired, Fort Worth PD


Comments (1)

Displaying 1 - 1 of 1

harold edmond @ 10/24/2012 3:33 AM

I think your article is biased and unfair. I've been brooding over this for a couple of years. My side of this tragedy was never heard,but I am ok with in because all stories have two sides. Of which mine was never heard. I am alive and well. Oh yeah I've never been in any trouble before or after this incident and I live a normal life. I take care of my family and work daily.

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