Heroic retired cop turned sheriff's deputy survives bullet to the head in the line of duty
05/29/2017 12:42 pm PDT
Every person in law enforcement will tell you that there is no such thing as a routine call. Crime Watch Daily introduces a South Carolina deputy who is living proof of that saying.
Dave Dempsey was a police officer for 27 years before he retired. But he missed the job, so he re-upped at the Greenville County Sheriff's Department. Dempsey was bravely doing his job when the radio call came in. But then a single bullet changed everything.
Dave Dempsey is a hero to many in Greenville, South Carolina: A beloved lawman, a good father and a devoted husband to his wife Amy.
Dempsey had been a corporal with the Greenville Police Department for over 27 years. That's why Dave's son Jon followed in his dad's footsteps. And when Dave passed the torch to his son, he hung up his badge and retired.
But puttering around the house -- well, that just isn't in Dave's DNA. Fighting crime is in his blood. So one month after Dave Dempsey retired from the police department, he came out of retirement and became a sheriff's deputy -- a decision that would change his life forever.
Barely five months in as a deputy, Dave responded to a report of a home invasion at an apartment complex on Dec. 10, 2015. It didn't go well.
"I hear a loud knock at the front door and I thought it was him coming home," said Dave's wife Amy. "Then when I looked out I saw the badges, I saw the stars and I saw two of them. I said 'Where's Dave?' And his lieutenant said 'Dave has been shot.' I know Dave wears his vest, so I kind of thought, OK, he's been shot, and then I said 'Where was he shot?' And he said 'The head.'"
Doctors frantically worked to keep Dave alive. Dave's other son, Hunter, an Iraq War veteran, was working at a new job in Europe and got the call to rush home.
Dave's brain was swelling. Surgeons removed his skull cap so the brain could expand. For 41 excruciating days Dave was in the hospital and had to wear a helmet, a high-tech substitute for a skull.
But the important thing is that Dave Dempsey is alive. He's no longer bedridden, he's not wearing that helmet, and he's walking normally.
Now this brave man is telling his remarkable story only to Crime Watch Daily.
"We were one of the responding units, first to arrive," said Dave. "So we get permission to kick the door in. After he kicks the door in, the subject on the inside shoots. Then all of a sudden everything started going sideways. I thought this was kind of strange -- that's the first thought that goes through my head: 'I'm falling.'"
The bullet missed Dave's brain by millimeters, travelling alongside the skull and out the ear.
Paramedics rushed to the scene.
"I would just go in and out of consciousness, I could feel them working on me but that's all I could feel," said Dave. "After they put me in I hear somebody say 'Get in, I'm driving this bus.' It's supposed to be a 32-minute ride. He gets there in nine minutes."
That guy who commandeered the ambulance is Deputy Todd Edwards, a tough ex-Marine.
"To see him now, I'm so proud of him, I'm so proud of Amy and the family, they just -- such a support team, it's something to see, that he just won't stop fighting. Just keeps on fighting," said Todd Edwards.
But even for a natural-born fighter, the road to recovery has been difficult.
"Slower speech, slower thought processes, cold all the time, which is typical of frontal lobe damage," said Dave.
"He's not as sharp-minded. He's delayed in his thoughts, his emotions are very delayed with certain things," said Amy.
The injury caused Dave to have seizures. After one of them, his 11-year-old son Danny stepped up to the plate to help his dad.
"Then he started shaking, then he started backing up a little bit, so I got up and was kinda like holding him lightly to make sure he wouldn't fall and hit his head on like the stone lamp table that's in therd by the couch," said Danny Dempsey.
And now Dave's tradition of service will continue. Hunter Dempsey has applied to be a cop and join the family business.
"To be able to do this selfless service and to be able to protect and serve and follow in my dad and my brother's footsteps," said Hunter.
If you look in the dictionary for the definition of a hero, you're sure to find a picture of Deputy Dave Dempsey. He is truly an inspiration to all Americans.