Dragged by a meth-fueled felon: Lessons learned by a lucky cop
Missouri State Trooper Cody Dunfee still doesn't know why his instincts were to lunge at the suspect's car as it took off
One frustration most cops share is the unrealistic depiction the media and entertainment business give to the day-to-day life of cops. So when a real-life traffic stop is almost too incredible to believe, it’s worth reexamining.
Missouri State Trooper Cody Dunfee was on patrol on a four-lane highway around 1:45 a.m. when he noticed a car coming in the other direction driving 86 mph in a 65 mph zone. It was swerving onto the shoulder of the road.
Dunfee turned around and began to follow what he assumed was a drunk driver. After pulling the car over, Dunfee watched the subject squirm in his seat.
“Nine times out of ten, they don’t move,” said Dunfee. “But he was frantic; I could see him reaching towards the passenger’s side. I thought he was trying to hide something. I didn’t think it was a weapon at that point.”
Dunfee approached the driver’s side of the vehicle, saw an object in the suspect’s waistband, and instantly drew his firearm and repeatedly commanded, “Stop!”
Alan G. Hampton hit the gas and began to take off. The trooper latched onto the window to prevent being run over, and continued shouting orders to stop the vehicle as he dragged along side it.
Dunfee fired two shots, striking the driver in the left arm and left leg, and the vehicle came to a stop.
The conversation that followed was surreal.
'You Shot Me? You Shot Me!'
"You shot me?!" You shot me! You shot me! Oh my God! You shot me; I’m gonna bleed to death," Hampton yelled clearly.
Dunfee, a nine-year veteran, ordered Hampton to put his car in park as the suspect continued to groan in shock.
"I could see that there wasn’t a lot of blood; I knew we had a little time. But my radio wasn’t working, so — I wasn’t panicking, but I had this heightened thinking, deciding whether or not I should run back to my car to get my first aid kit."
Dunfee ordered Hampton out of the vehicle and ran back to his squad, where he alerted dispatch and requested an ambulance. He pulled his vehicle up to the scene of the incident, where Hampton was flailing on the ground, as seen in the dash cam footage. Dunfee administered first aid as the suspect continued to ask why he was shot and begged for help.
Watching the dash cam footage later put some of the pieces together for the trooper.
"I don’t remember our exchange before the car took off. I didn’t remember initially yelling for him to stop. The gun draw was automatic, as soon as I perceived a threat."
The object found in Hampton’s pants was a baggie, but authorities later found methamphetamine, a loaded hypodermic needle and a handgun covered with blood.
"To this day, I don't know why I more or less dove into that car," Dunfee said of the 2012 incident. “In hindsight, I should have been wearing rubber gloves, he was bleeding; and I didn’t cuff him immediately. He didn’t seem like a threat, so I responded more like it was a medic scenario."
The next time Dunfee saw Hampton was in the courtroom.
Living to Tell the Story
"I was a little surprised his sentence was so long. As a road trooper, we mostly deal with DWIs, misdemeanors. They don’t have that kind of time attached to them," Dunfee said.
"Hampton may argue that getting shot was punishment enough. Getting shot isn't punishment — getting shot is a consequence of this stupid, dangerous and illegal behavior," said Clay County Prosecutor Daniel White.
Missouri Highway Patrol trooper Cody Dunfee returned home to his two young boys after the dramatic incident.
"To be able to go through some of this stuff and go home at night and to see my children, I thank the Lord for it every day.”
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