Officer Michael Dunn
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First to Survive a Gun Shot Wound
Thanks to the Bullet Proof Vest
It did the job! April 7, 1979 Officer Michael Dunn When a Police Officer gets shot in the line of duty all of us are saddened. Recuperation from gunshot wounds is a long, slow and often painful process. There are occasions, however, when such an incident has a brighter than expected ending. Officer Michael P. Dunn of the Southern District was shot three times during what began as a traffic violation stop on April 7, 1979. When he stopped a van that Saturday night he had little way of knowing how close death would be in just a moment or two. The van was occupied by three people, the driver and two young women, who were being held against their wills; He had kidnapped and raped them earlier in the evening. Officer Dunn, of course, was unaware of this when he stopped the vehicle. Just twelve days after his harrowing experience Officer Dunn visited the NEWSLETTER Office and talked about what had happened to him. In the following excerpts from that Interview he offers a unique perspective on what was nearly a personal disaster: "I just finished backing a unit up on Reedbird Ave. and went down to Reedbird and Hanover to finish the run sheet for the night. I finished and pulled onto Hanover St. to go into the Station when I spotted a black van with no tail lights or tag light. I pulled him over in about the 2700 block of South Hanover St. "I approached the van and requested his driver license and registration. He took them out of his wallet and I advised him that his tail lights were out and he said that he knew because the fuse blew that day. While I was talking to him I heard a low scream coming from the back of the van and 1 didn't think too much of it. I figured that they were playing in the van. "As I was looking at his registration I heard this terrifying scream and as soon as I heard that I said to myself, OK . . . just be calm and don't make any jerky moves. I looked back toward him and there's a gun pointing at my head. I put my hands into the air because I knew that I had no chance for my gun. He said, 'let me have it', it dawned
on me that he wanted his license back because it had his picture on it. "As soon as I gave it to him he shot me almost dead center in the chest. (I was) no more than three or four feet away from him. The first shot threw me back and spun me around and I then got it in the left arm and in the left leg.". . . I remember the hit in the chest and the next thing I knew I was down on the ground. If there was any pain in the chest from that I really can't say because my mind was on what to do, what to remember and the things I was hearing from the opposite side of the van. ". . . When the other units got there I was conscious (and) they asked me where I was shot. As soon as I said that I was hit in the chest one guy said, 'Did you have the vest on?' and I said, 'Yes, I think it did the job because I don't feel any pain and no blood running down the chest!' ". . . (In the hospital) I helped them take the vest off because I was anxious to see if it did the job. When I saw just the bruise and just some skin that was more or less cut, I'm yelling, 'It really works! It really works! It did the job!' The bullet which struck Officer Dunn in the chest passed through his necktie before striking his soft body armor. The bullet is shown just above the impact paints which are marked with arrows "Lieutenant (James L.) Rainey was looking in the door and I told him to go back to Roll Call and tell the men that it 'really works. If I could have gotten up I probably would have been jumping up down for joy. ". . . A lot of men really want to know, does it really work? It's so flimsy and all . . . I found out the hard way. If it wasn't for the vest, I wouldn't be sitting here now. It definitely saved my life. "The vest definitely works. I'll still complain about it being hot, but I'm still going to wear it." After Officer Dunn was shot he was able to broadcast a description of his assailant. A short time later Southern District Officer Samuel Ritch, Jr. saw the fleeing van and placed his patrol vehicle in a position to block the roadway. The suspect's vehicle rammed the Police unit and then spun into a privately owned vehicle. The suspect was captured and was later charged with multiple assaults intent to murder, rape, kidnapping and handgun violations. Officer Dunn is recovering quickly from his injuries and will return to duty in the very near future.
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