Wauwatosa Police Detective Jeffery Griffin is back on the job after being shot in the line of duty nearly a year ago. The bullet that hit him is still lodged inside his body. It didn’t take his life, but it surely changed it forever.
Griffin is sharing his story publicly for the first time on TODAY’S TMJ4. The shooting happened on June 19, 2015. He and a partner were attempting to arrest Najee Harmon. At the time he was already a convicted felon, on the run, and wanted for a burglary in Wauwatosa.
Wauwatosa Police Chief Barry Weber says having Griffin back, even part-time, is a morale boost for the department. “Everybody wanted to see him come back. We've had several bad incidents over the last year or so. When this one turns out he wasn't harmed any worse than he was, he's able to return, it's just uplifting,” Weber said.
The road back has been excruciatingly long, despite early news reports that suggested Griffin's injuries may not have been too serious. Griffin said though the injury was not considered life threatening, it was very serious. He spent 12 straight days in the hospital. He’s had two surgeries, and is still working to get his strength back.
DASHCAM VIDEO: WATCH WILD RIDE TO THE HOSPITAL
Griffin recalls every detail from the early morning shooting. Harmon fired five shots at Griffin and his partner, the first one hitting Griffin in the mid-section of his body. “I knew it was bad right away,” Griffin remembered. “I felt the bullet enter the left side of my body. It stopped on the right, but I could feel the bullet tearing through me, then the blood rushing down my leg. So I knew I'd been hit right away. So we had to make a decision, what do we do?”
A critical choice was that Griffin decided not to wait for an ambulance. He liked his chances better if uniform Officer Mike Nelson made a run for the hospital. Nelson got Griffin in his squad car, and tore down Good Hope Road, headed for Froedtert Hospital. He made it in 12 minutes.
“It was long, you know, I was prepared,” Griffin detailed about the moments he spend bleeding in the back of the squad. “I said if I ever got shot on this job I was going to be prepared. I wasn't going to panic. I was going to stay calm. I was going to talk my way through it.”
EXTENDED INTERVIEW: DETECTIVE GRIFFIN
Griffin said he is angry about what happened, but he doesn’t carry the anger around with him. In March, a judge sentenced Najee Harmon to 54 years in prison. This month, Griffin watched his oldest daughter graduate from college.
He’s thankful each day for those family moments almost stolen from him. “I have a whole different outlook on life. My wife said I slowed down. I’m much easier to deal with,” he said.
Griffin remains committed to returning to work full time. He’s hoping to get the all clear from his doctor when he gets his next major check-up, one year after the shooting.