Episode #9

Shot While Off Duty… One Officers Journey to Recovering Emotionally and Physically

Welcome to the Stronger Families Podcast, a space for candid conversations with real heroes that sheds light on the side of things not glorified in the media. In each episode, we learn about what goes on when these heroes go home, so that together we can build a stronger family. Today, Noel Meador, host and CEO of Stronger Families, joins co-host Keni Thomas for the first of two interviews with a couple with a unique story. This couple, Donavan and Tina, discuss how Donovan being shot impacted their life, marriage, family and careers.

To begin, Donovan jumps into telling the story of what happened the day he was shot on Halloween of 2021. He decided to take a new route on his usual Saturday morning run when he saw some suspicious activity taking place. As a first responder, he did what he had to do and called 911. Despite trying to hide, he was spotted by one of the people and shot. Eventually, he managed to get to a busy street and collapsed on the sidewalk and other first responders showed up just in time. All of this elapsed in a matter of minutes. Then, Tina shares her perspective from the day. Luckily, she has tracking alerts for Donovan while he was on his run and noticed his unusual activity. When she heard the sirens, she knew something was seriously wrong. She was already in her car when she got the call that her husband had been shot.

Though she didn’t know the severity of his condition, Tina felt that everything was going to be okay and was actually the calmest person in the ER waiting room. Her biggest concern was making sure the family knew what was going on before the story was aired by the media. Her biggest mistake, she reveals, was watching the media twist the story as soon as it happened. She details their various problems with the media’s reporting. The medications helped Donovan deal with the initial shock and PTSD. He was shot on a Sunday, was released from the hospital on a Friday, and Tina had him meeting with a therapist that next Wednesday. This helped immensely in the beginning stages of the coping process. 

For Donovan, the hardest part of this journey so far, has been trying to navigate the psychological injuries that have come along with the incident. He was struggling in his therapy because he didn’t feel they had the cultural competencies he needed. They questioned many of the thoughts he was having, which he later learned were legitimate thoughts a police officer would have with a psychological injury. He was able to reach out to his close friends and do his research to find someone who is able to give him the help he needed. Tina shares the changes she observed in Donovan after the incident and the turning point when they knew he needed serious help. Building close relationships with people who have experienced similar things helped the couple immensely. Now, they are the closest that they have ever been and Donovan feels like he is a better person because of it.

Next, Donovan shares where the department is now after the incident. Now, they are working out a plan to be more successful at helping officers who have been through traumatic events as they return to work. Tina shares that the procedures which are supposed to happen in law enforcement in the case of an incident didn’t play out as they should have. She believes it is important for the spouses of people in law enforcement to be familiar with these procedures and paperwork. Finally, they both share advice for listeners to ensure their relationships remain grounded, which all begins with open communication. Before wrapping up, Noel and Keni share their takeaways from today’s episode.

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Timestamps:

1:55 – Welcome to this episode – Part I of a conversation with Donavan and Tina.

2:30 –  Donovan tells the story of what happened the day he was shot.

6:15 – Tina’s side of the story from that day.

10:37 – Donavan and Tina’s experience with the media.

12:25 – How Donovan was able to cope with the incident.

18:14 – The psychological changes Tina has seen in Donovan.

16:00 – The hardest part of their journey so far.

19:22 – How Donovan and Tina have remained close through this journey.

24:40 – The positive outcomes of the incident.

27:18 – Tina’s experience dealing with second hand PTSD.

31:30 – Where does the department stand now after the incident?

35:33 – Tip for listeners who have experienced similar things to keep their relationships grounded and communicative. 

38:21 – The importance of communicating with your spouse.

41:20 – Noel and Keni’s final thoughts on the episode today.

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