FORT WORTH (CBS11) – David Collie fought back tears nearly six months after an officer’s bullet left him paralyzed from the waist down.
“It’s hard, it’s hard, but what keeps me moving forward is the fact I’m still alive,” said Collie.
Collie spoke for the first time from the nursing home he’s staying in because he wanted to tell his side of the story.
He said police are “painting a dirty picture. It’s not the truth.”
Collie was walking in an apartment complex just before midnight when a uniformed Fort Worth police officer and a Tarrant County Sheriff’s deputy, both off-duty, were searching for two shirtless robbery suspects who had a silver gun.
Police have said when the officers approached Collie, he wasn’t wearing a shirt, and that he didn’t comply with the officers commands.
“I did hear him say take your hand out of your pocket,” said Collie. “I did hear that. So in my mind, I’m like trying to be like look, I’m showing my hand.”
Dash camera video shows the shooting and that Collie was walking away from officers when they shot him.
Police said their officer shot Collie after he pointed a silver object at the deputy.
At the time, authorities said the officers thought Collie had a gun, but it was Collie’s box cutter.
Collie said he needed it for his summer job, and insisted he kept it hidden. “In my pocket man. In my pocket the whole time.”
But police said they found the box cutter on the ground.
A grand jury declined to indict Collie on a charge of aggravated assault on a public servant.
A police spokesman said internal affairs concluded the officer-involved shooting was justified.
But Collie said he did nothing wrong, and when asked if he could think of anything he would do differently that night, he said, “I can’t. I can’t.”
Collie, who is African-American, said he doesn’t want to leave any doubt where he stands. “It’s not a racial thing. There are good white officers, there are good Hispanic officers, so I don’t want to jump on the bandwagon.”
He said he believes the officer made a mistake when he shot him. “Let’s just acknowledge that he made a mistake and for me, I can move forward. I can accept it.”
Collie said he hopes police will use his case while training officers.
The officer hasn’t been disciplined police said, and is back on patrol.
The Tarrant County District Attorney’s office will soon ask a grand jury to decide whether the officer in this case should face charges.
While Collie said he’s considering filing a lawsuit against the Fort Worth Police Department, he said he is not bitter.
He said he is learning how to take care of himself after the shooting left him with a collapsed lung and the life-changing injury close to his spinal cord. “I know it’s a miracle I’m still here.”
A former gang member, Collie says he knows he’s not perfect.
His record includes evading arrest, a state jail felony, for which he spent time behind bars when he was 20 years old.
Collie says at the time of the shooting, he was working during the summer and attending Tarrant County College where he was studying photography.
Now 33, Collie says he wants speak to troubled teens and give back to the community. “I feel God left me here to continue to do something good on earth.”
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