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Sheriff-elect Lucas recounts almost being killed in line of duty

Posted: 9:29 PM, Nov 13, 2018
Updated: 2018-11-14 04:11:19Z

Here's a story about the next Milwaukee County Sheriff you've probably never heard. Earnell Lucas was almost killed in the line of duty 37 years ago.

He doesn't talk about it much, but he told TODAY'S TMJ4 about the night he cheated death.

The Sheriff-elect says his experience as a Milwaukee Police Officer and Captain, plus his years working security for Major League Baseball, prepared him for this new job.

But, all that life experience comes with one life-changing event at 10th and Walnut.

"I sustained a shotgun blast to the right side of my face," said Lucas.

It was 1982 and Lucas was a young officer with just three years on the job.

"It was the early morning hours of New Year's day," said Lucas. "Certainly the last call of the day."

Lucas and his partner Greg Moore were responding to a disturbance call from inside an apartment at the time.

"I looked inside and it was then that I saw the individual seated in the floor with his 12 gauge shotgun pointed out the door."

Lucas said as he moved to a safer position he was shot once.

"I recall reaching up to my forehead and when I came back, my hand was full of blood," he said,

He then made a decision he doesn't regret.

"I stayed alert through the entire period but I made the decision with my partner, get us out of here get me out of here."

Lucas and Moore jumped into their squad car and drove to the emergency room that day as reported by TODAY'S TMJ4's Bill Taylor.

"This blood spattered squad car was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital - Moore drove as Lucas called for assistance saying 'I've been shot in the head,'" Taylor reported.

"I was a new father," said Lucas. "I had a 2-week old daughter, a 2-year-old son. I was concerned about my family."

Lucas knows how lucky he was to survive. Just a week earlier, two Milwaukee Police officers were killed in the line of duty and a third died the same month he was shot.

Three officers were killed in a span of 40 days. It's their memory and the memory of all fallen officers that he carries with him to this day.

"I'm just thankful I had the opportunity to live, to get back up and get back out and serve this community," said Lucas.

That call to serve continues on Jan. 7, nearly 37 years after he was almost killed.

"Have you been measured for the uniform?" asked TODAY'S TMJ4's Charles Benson

"That part has not taken place yet," said Lucas, laughing.

Lucas has been busy preparing for his new role as Milwaukee County Sheriff.

"What have you heard from the community about the expectations they have for you in this job?" asked Benson.

"Number one is certainly to respect all human life in this community," said Lucas.

Lucas' priority list is getting long. It includes addressing questions from the deaths of four jail inmates in 2016 and staffing issues for highways and county parks.

"We've got to provide the level of security that can make Milwaukee County safe," he said.

Lucas and his partner were awarded citations for service above and beyond the call of duty.

Lucas needed surgery and came very close to losing an eye. He eventually returned to work and now can't wait for this next chapter in his life.