RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A Richmond police officer, who survived being shot twice, is opening up about the life-threatening incident for the first time.
Officer Ryan Donald is back at work thanks to the support from his fellow officers and his wife, who happens to wear the badge as well.
Last year, Richmond Police officers Shatara and Ryan Donald got married in secret.
“He says, ‘You know what? We need to go ahead and do it, just in case something happens, I want to make sure we’re good,'” says Officer Shatara Donald. “I’m like, ‘All right.'”
“I had a weird premonition,” says Officer Ryan Donald.
Two months later, that strange feeling proved to be true when Officer Ryan Donald and two other officers chased a suspect into an alley on Richmond’s northside. Shots were fired.
“The third gunshot went off,” says Officer Ryan Donald. “I saw the muzzle flash coming from a shed to my left. At that point I spun and saw the suspect and I returned fire.”
The suspect, Keith Vernon Smith Junior, hit officer Ryan Donald twice in the right leg.
“Somehow the bullet went through the skin, through and through and didn’t hit any cartilage,” he said.
His first call was for back up. The second call was to his wife, who happened not to be on patrol that night.
“My phone rings and it’s him,” says officer Shatara Donald. “As soon as I pick up the phone he’s screaming, ‘Get to MCV! I just been shot!'”
Officer Ryan Donald wanted to go into surgery quickly to go after the bullet.
“It was like a piece of him was inside of me. It was weird. I just wanted it out,” he said.
The couple says in a strange way, their police training helped them through the trauma. Shatara wanted to get to work.
“I was like, alright, do I need to put on my uniform?” she said. “What are we about to do? We need to go find this guy!”
Smith, a convicted felon who had only been out of jail for a few months, was arrested with the gun.
At the trial, the couple saw him face-to-face for the first time and the emotions: sympathy.
“I felt really bad for his mom,” says officer Shatara Donald. “Don’t know what she had been through all her life with him.”
Life for these newlyweds has returned to normal with their three dogs and plenty of animals. They even had a wedding surrounded by family and friends, and Officer Ryan Donald is back at work.
WWBT-TV asked: how could he go back?
“It’s what I do,” he said. “I like being a cop, and that’s just some of the dangers of it.”
The suspect, Keith Vernon Smith Jr., is now serving a 25-year prison sentence.
Officer Ryan Donald and the two other officers working that night received a Gold Valor Award for how they responded during the shooting. The award honors first responders who go above and beyond the call of duty. Six Richmond police officers in all received this honor.
Information from: WWBT-TV, http://www.wwbt.com/
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