A decorated DeWitt Township, MI, police officer died of COVID-19 Wednesday, township officials said. 

Sgt. Bill Darnell, who was wounded in 2008, tested positive for COVID-19 in late October, just before the department shut down because too many officers either tested positive for COVID-19 or were required to be in quarantine. 

In November 2008, Darnell was seriously injured during a shootout. He spent a month at Sparrow Hospital recovering after he was shot in the face by a man who had driven from Florida to a DeWitt apartment complex to kill his estranged wife. 

Darnell and fellow officer, Michael Nunham, were shot at by the man, Nathan DeForest Oakes in the apartment complex. They fatally shot Oaks. Darnell was also grazed by a second bullet.

Oaks shot Darnell through his right cheek, shattering at least three teeth and severing an artery in his tongue. He fell, breaking bones in his face and jaw.

He spent the next month at Sparrow Hospital with his jaw wired shut, his tongue reconstructed and a breathing tube in his throat, the Lansing State Journal reports.

By December 2009, he was back on the DeWitt Township police force. 

In 2018, Darnell was awarded the "beyond the call of duty" award from the Michigan Crime Victim Foundation stemming from that 2008 domestic violence call.

“Sergeant Darnell was the glue that kept this department together,” Dewitt Township police chief, Mike Gute told WINS.

Gute says Darnell was a jack of all trades and helped the department in many different ways.

“He’s the voice of reason, he was older, he was someone the younger officers looked up to, he was a mentor and a role model, the qualities about this man are endless,” said Gute.

 

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