Editor's note: As part of our year-end coverage, we look back at some of the biggest and most heroic news stories, and reconnect with some of the officers and departments involved in the incidents to find out what has developed since, and how the department has faired in the days and months following.
In this article, Officer Matt Fox recounts the horrific night that he was ambushed with gunfire, and the steady, miraculous recovery he continues to make as he strives to be back on full duty next year.
By K-9 Officer Matt Fox
Fortville Police Department
FORTVILLE, Ind. — On the night of Friday July 27, around 23:43 hours, I was working OWI task force, when I saw a 2002 white Volvo passenger vehicle with no working driver’s side tail light.
I turned around on the vehicle and activated my emergency lights. The vehicle would not pull over; it did not speed up or slow down. I then activated my siren and still the vehicle would not pull over.
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We came up to a four way intersection and the vehicle stopped for the stop sign then took off again.
I advised dispatch that I had a vehicle refusing to pull over and to notify Lawrence Police Department as we were leaving McCordsville and entering their jurisdiction.
The vehicle then pulled over in front of a neighborhood inside Lawrence. I radioed to dispatch that the vehicle had pulled over and I was going to wait for back-up.
I exited my patrol vehicle and drew my sidearm and gave commands to the driver to shut the vehicle off, and show me his hands. I gave those commands several times over 20 to 30 seconds with no luck from the driver. The driver put his vehicle back into gear and took off again.
I advised dispatch that I was in pursuit. We went two blocks when the driver drove up into a yard and exited his vehicle, shooting at me with a FN .45 caliber handgun.
I never had a chance to react to him exiting his vehicle as I was still in gear driving up in the yard after him.
The first shot bounced off my radar head and lodged in my forehead which temporary paralyzed me. I was also shot in my left forearm, left hand, right hand, and five times in my chest that were stopped by my level three A vest.
The driver had fired ten shots, nine of them hitting me.
The driver had fired eight shots at first and then ran up to my driver’s side window and punched it out. He then fired two more rounds at point blank into my chest.
He then took off running to his car and drove away. It was over three minutes before I was able to regain mobility and get to my police radio and advised dispatch “I have been shot, officer down, officer down”.
Hancock County Sheriff’s Lt. Jeff Rasche and McCordsville Officer Josh Wise were the first to get to my side and start rendering aid.
Lawrence Medics arrived, and started first aid.
I was loaded up and rushed to IU Methodist Hospital with a full police escort from Lawrence Police Department and Indianapolis Metro Police Department. I was taken to surgery to remove and repair the damage to my forehead as well as my other injuries.
I was kept in ICU until July 31, the day of my 30th birthday. I was then transferred to Community East to start in-patient rehab.
The driver was located by IMPD about fifteen minutes later and another big gun battle ensued.
Six IMPD officers’ and two Lawrence officer’s engaged the suspect who at this time was armed with a SKS assault rifle. The gun battle was about four to four and a half minutes long.
The driver, a 27-year-old male, was shot and killed during the gun battle.
One IMPD officer was grazed as well as a Lawrence K-9. Their injuries were minor.
Found inside the vehicle was one pound of marijuana, spice packages, $4,000 in cash, an AR-15 shotgun, .44 caliber handgun, .45 caliber handgun, and ammunition.
I was released from in-patient rehab on August 9, and started out-patient rehab until September 28. I was then released to desk duty on the first of October.
I have had lots of support from the local police agencies, the community at large, as well from my family and close friends.
On October 5, my department held an awards ceremony for the first responders that night that help saved my life. I was also awarded the Purple Heart and the Award of Valor from my police chief.
I am currently still undergoing rehab three times a week and have one more hand surgery scheduled. Doctors are saying I might be able to return to full duty around January 2013.