Officer Christin Rudell of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department stood in harm's way and fired her weapon on a drunk driving suspect to prevent the woman from running over her beat partner with a car again. For her actions, Officer Rudell has been named the April 2012 Officer of the Month by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
It was a cold January night in 2011 when Officers Christin Rudell and Deanna Pulley got the call of a disturbance caused by a drunk woman at a bar on the Southside of Indianapolis. Based on the information they received from dispatch, they thought the woman was still in the bar. But when they arrived, the owner yelled to them that she was already in her car, and pointed the vehicle out in the parking lot. The officers had parked in an L-shape, with Rudell's car about five feet behind and perpendicular to the woman's car, blocking her exit.
"As we started to approach the vehicle, she backed into my car—the first time—and pulled forward back into her parking space. We started yelling at her to stop the car," Rudell remembers.
Michelle Marsh, 31, was swaying as she sat in the driver's seat. It was later determined she had a blood alcohol level of 3.0. The officers came to the driver's side window and instructed her to stop and turn off her car so they could talk, but she refused. They pounded on her window, but the woman just rattled off obscenities. Pulley started to radio dispatch to contact a supervisor. That was when Marsh abruptly threw her car into reverse and backed up.
Rudell yelled to her partner to move out of the way, but before an answer came back over the radio one of the tires hit Pulley and threw her over the car. Her glasses flew off and her radio skidded away.
And that was just the beginning.
Marsh pulled forward and reversed again. Pulley's leg was injured. She heard the engine rev again and had just enough time to roll over to partially move out of the way, but she couldn't entirely avoid the car's tires.
"As she backed up the car again she backed over the entire length of my beat partner's body on the left side, from head to toe, and flung her out from under the car like a rag doll," says Rudell.
Marsh positioned her car between the officers, making it difficult for Rudell to help. Pulley was able to crawl a ways away, but she was severely injured and couldn't reach her sidearm, which had twisted around to the small of her back.
Rudell fired two shots into the car at Marsh, but that didn't stop the drunk woman. She backed out through a small gap between cars and reversed through the parking lot. Then she put the car back in drive and started toward the officers.
"My beat partner was behind me, so I stood in front of her and blocked the path [with gun drawn]," says Rudell. "[Marsh] started driving at me. I fired at her again, and she veered off and went around the other side of our vehicle and fled."
Rudell immediately put out a description of the suspect and her vehicle and the direction of travel. Marsh was found crashed less than a mile away shortly thereafter. She had been shot in the arm and stomach, but was still combative with arresting officers. She pleaded guilty to aggravated battery and driving with a suspended license.
Pulley remained conscious throughout. She suffered breaks to her left arm and left leg, broken ribs, a lacerated liver, a bruised diaphram, and a concussion. "Her foot was turned completely inward. It looked like her knee was straight on, but her foot was lying flat against the ground, so it was pretty nasty," says Rudell. "She had a tire tread across her forehead from where the tire went across her face."
But because of Rudell's intervention, Pulley survived.
After multiple surgeries the 21-year veteran made a full recovery and returned to active duty 10 months later. Rudell was awarded her department's Medal of Valor. Both officers continue to serve the citizens of Indianapolis.
Rudell, a five-year veteran of Indianapolis Metro PD, says she is surprised and honored to be recognized as the NLEOMF Officer of the Month and appreciates having the respect of her fellow officers. She also commends Pulley for her return to duty. "My partner has a lot of courage to step back out on the street after what she’s been through," Rudell says. "It shows a lot of dedication as well."
Considering the entire incident lasted no more than a minute and a half, Rudell says she doesn't think there was anything either of them could have done differently. But she now has a heightened awareness on the job, in part because of a fellow officer's death the week before the incident with Marsh. "I didn't really take that in before, how badly things can go just at the drop of a hat."