Hero cop survives execution attempt after pursuit, shootout
10/10/2017 12:12 pm PDT
Some of the most dramatic video you will ever see: A police body-camera captures an officer chasing an armed and dangerous suspect into thick brush. The heart-pounding minutes that follow changed several lives forever.
A gunman takes cops on a high-speed chase. It starts at 95 miles per hour on a busy freeway, turns into a foot pursuit in the brush and ends with a Wild West shootout.
But only one will live.
It was a sunny afternoon in Fort Worth, Texas. But things are about to turn dark and deadly for the police.
Officer's radio call: "You got any units that can assist U.S. Marshals following an ag[gravated] robbery suspect? Silver Ford Escape."
Officer Matt Pearce was on routine patrol on March 15, 2016 when he hears the radio call.
Officer: "Supposed to be armed and dangerous."
The suspect is as bad as they come. Ed McIver Sr. reportedly has a long rap sheet and is wanted for stabbing his ex-wife in the eye with a pencil. And junior's in the car riding shotgun.
Officer Pearce is nearby so he radios headquarters asking to join the chase. He's now the number three car in hot pursuit of the McIvers.
Pearce: "A lot of traffic at Horn, a lot of traffic at Horn, I can see it."
"I pick up my radio and I hear the pursuit," Ft. Worth Police Officer Brandi Kamper tells Crime Watch Daily.
Back at the police academy, training instructor Kamper is listening to the radio calls with anxious anticipation.
"I hear Matt's voice and I knew it was Matt because he's my friend," said Kamper. "And we're listening to the pursuit and everybody's adrenalin is going up, and we're just like 'Go Matt, go get 'em,' you know, and we're listening to the other officers, we're like 'Come on, come on,' and it just keeps going."
The chase gets even more dangerous when the suspect pulls his SUV into a shopping center. He now takes cops on a zig-zag ride through the parking lot. Once he's in the back alley he wildly speeds up again.
Pearce: "They're gonna fail to yield, they're gonna take off on me."
A gate stops McIver, so he makes a U-turn and now races so close past the officers he nearly sideswipes them.
Now McIver is going at breakneck speed in the parking lot.
Pearce: "We're in pursuit, we're going to Hulen."
The shopping center is potentially filled with moms and children. McIver makes a hard turn onto a busy street.
Pearce: "Southbound, southbound Hulen."
Just ahead Officer Matt Pearce is waiting.
He throws out "stop-sticks" to try and slice the tires. But McIver must have seen Pearce deploy them, so he switches into oncoming traffic. Now he's back on the freeway. And then he takes an unscheduled exit, driving right down an embankment and onto a side road.
But Pearce is one intersection ahead of him. He's now the number one car in the chase. It's up to him to stop McIver. Now they're in the rural part of Fort Worth. McIver slows down and turns into the dusty driveway of a farm.
Pearce: "Bailing, bailing. Coming up the hill."
"When Matt says that these two guys bail out of the car and that both of them have guns, the SWAT officer leaves the office that we're in and heads down to the SWAT office to grab the team and head to the scene," said Brandi Kamper.
The two suspects are footloose. Matt Pearce goes after Ed Senior.
Pearce: "Stop right there! Fort Worth Police!"
Pearce is running all out until he hits a thicket of mesquite trees. He can barely walk through them. And then he comes to a barbed wire fence impossible to crawl under and too high to just jump over with all the equipment he's carrying. So he climbs a fence post and falls off, getting caught up in the thorny branches.
Pearce sees McIver and shoots at him. As Pearce tries to crawl out of the branches, he's staring straight into the evil eyes of Ed McIver Sr. and the cold steel of a gun.
The first bullet blows Matt Pearce backwards. He's hit in the femur, shattering it into pieces.
"There was a long pause on the radio and then the next thing we heard was an officer screaming on the radio," said Brandi Kamper.
Officer: "We've got an officer down? Officer's been shot!"
"I didn't even think, I just grabbed my medical bag and started running," said Kamper.
Brandi was an Army medic and is trained in emergency medicine. She rushes to the scene to help her brother in blue who is bleeding red. Matt Pearce doesn't realize there are other officers nearby and more on the way. He clicks his radio for help. But all he gets a busy signal.
"These officers are talking over each other and they're all trying to key up on the radio at the same time," said Kamper.
As Pearce is lying in the brush, his body-cam shows McIver's dark shadow approaching. The monster delivers another bullet -- straight into Pearce's face.
"While we were driving we keep waiting to hear that the scene was secure, that this officer was in the back of the ambulance leaving the scene," said Kamper.
Pearce is losing a lot of blood. He's fast heading into shock. His body-camera picks up voices.
"Got one of them. Right here. We got one."
Are those the voices of the suspects coming to finish him off?
Fort Worth Police Officer Matt Pearce is shot five times in the gun battle with Ed McIver Sr. Pearce is badly injured and trapped in the thick branches of mesquite trees.
Pearce's body-camera picks up voices of his fellow officers -- but he thinks they believe he is the suspect. He summons every last ounce of breath to yell:
Pearce: "Blue ... Blue ... Blue ... I'm Blue."
Blue, the secret code word that reveals he's a cop.
Officer: "Where you hit Matt?"
Moments later Officer Brandi Kamper, an Army-trained medic, arrives at the scene.
"He's laying on his side, he's sweating buckets, he's white as a ghost and he's covered in blood," Kamper tells Crime Watch Daily. "And he's looking at me going, 'Brandi, I'm bad, it's bad, I can feel my lungs filling up with blood.'"
The ambulance isn't there yet, so they load Pearce into a police truck.
"We need to get Matt out of there before we end up in another gunfight, because he cannot afford to get hit one more time, he can't afford one more injury, so we load him up into the back of a Tahoe, and as soon as we took off, the Tahoe sank in the mud, and we're stuck, and Matt is screaming because his femur's broken," said Kamper.
So now they carefully carry Pearce to an open field so a helicopter can airlift him to the hospital. After surgery, Pearce is put into a medically induced coma.
"The next thing I remember is waking up," said Pearce. "And I saw my mom and I said 'Mom, how long have I been asleep? For like two or three days?' And she looks at me and goes 'Oh no, try two and a half weeks.'"
Now this hero cop is sharing with Crime Watch Daily his amazing story of the pursuit and the gunfight. He walks with a limp, the result of his broken femur, and his thick beard covers the scars on his face.
"As we continue chasing him, he finds a dirt road with an open gate," said Officer Pearce. "It looks like a scene from the 'Dukes of Hazzard,' there's dirt flying in front of me, I'm driving fast behind it. So as we're running through this mesquite thicket I'm screaming at him.
"And we get to a barbed wire fence, so Ed McIver Sr. puts his belly on the fence and just flops over, almost like an acrobatic move," said Pearce. "I have a whole belt of equipment on, if I try and flip over that barbed wire fence like he did I am going to be literally hung upside down from my belt from that fence, and now I'm going to look like a coyote caught in a barbed wire fence."
Pearce tried to jump from the fence post, but fell down. That's when he exchanged fire with the suspect.
"The first set of bullets actually hit me in the leg, which broke my femur," Pearce tells Crime Watch Daily. "So I've got two options: I can sit here and let him shoot me, or I can fight back, and I'm not about to sit here and let some dude just shoot me and not shoot back.
"In my body camera footage you can see his shadow come into my camera, and then he reaches his hand in the bush and puts the gun to my head and just pulls the trigger," said Pearce. "I can see blood just pouring out of my face now. I have the choice to make: Do I fight or do I accept defeat. And I'm too ornery and too stubborn to accept defeat, so we're gonna fight."
Now Office Pearce faces another terror even more horrifying than the first.
"I laid there and I thought 'This is going to suck. I just survived an execution and my own guys are going to shoot and kill me,'" said Pearce. "I was scared to death. I thought that's really what was going to happen."
He's buried underneath the mesquite branches and all the other officers can see are his shoes.
"So they start challenging me, 'Show me your hands, show me your hands or we're going to shoot you,'" said Pearce. "So I'm trying to yell 'Blue' as loud as I can, but they can't hear me. So about the third or fourth time I tried to say it, I finally was just like 'All right, this is my last ditch effort, I'm gonna take the biggest breath I can and I'm gonna yell it as loud as I can, and if they don't hear me I don't know what to do next.' So I took as deep a breath as I could with one functional lung and I got it out loud enough. And that's when they finally realized that it was me."
Like his close friend Brandi Kamper, Matt Pearce is also trained in emergency medicine. He was a paramedic before he became a cop.
"Then all of a sudden I hear Officer Brandi Kamper's voice, I was like 'Oh thank God she's here.' I know that she knows exactly what to do to give me the best chance to survive and I don't have to tell her how to do it," said Pearce.
"I don't think I've ever had a scenario or a training situation where a patient had nine holes in them," said Kamper.
Pearce survived, but Ed McIver Sr. didn't.
"After Ed McIver tries to execute me, he turns and tries to kind of scurry up the hill to get away from my body, because I'm sure he thinks he killed me," said Pearce. "Officers are at the top of the hill and they engage him in a firefight and end up shooting and killing him."
Officer: "One suspect is down. We don't know where the other one is at."
After three hours of searching, cops found his Ed McIver Jr. He pleaded not guilty to charges of hindering the apprehension of a felon and tampering with evidence, felonies that could get him 10 years in prison.
Almost one year after bullets flew in Fort Worth, Officer Matt Pearce bravely returns to what might have been his killing field. He hopes to be back on patrol next month.
"Coming back to work has been probably one of the hardest parts for me 'cause I'm not one to known just to sit around and soak up the time off," said Pearce. "I'm now back light duty for 20 hours a week now. Next month I'll be back for 40 hours a week and then the plan is for me to return to a uniform mid-November."
Matt Pearce is one tough cop. He wears blue, but he bleeds red just like the rest of us. He has a warning for any would-be thugs who dare take him on in a gun battle.
"So the next time somebody draws a gun at me, if they think I'm going out without a fight, they got another story coming," said Officer Matt Pearce.