FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – It has been 614 days since officer Matt Pearce was shot five times in the line of duty, at point-blank range, and lived to tell about it. The long months since that day have been filled with rest, recovery and relentless rehabilitation.
Now, the only thing that Pearce wants to do is be a street cop again.
“I have a healthy nervousness going back, as I should,” Pearce stated. “You don’t go through something like this and not have some kind of nervousness.”
It was March 2016 when Pearce was struck five times, at close range, during a gun battle with Ed McIver Sr. in a wooded Fort Worth area. When the gunfire was over, another officer had killed the suspect, and Pearce was barely hanging onto the edge of death.
Pearce listed all of the places where he was shot. “Twice in the shoulder, once here which shattered the femur, and once here, basically in and out the back of my hamstring, and once right here in my face,” he said. His bandaged head is a lasting image from the days just after he was released from the hospital.
But it was the inability to walk for more than four months that really made Pearce mad. “I was so frustrated,” he said, “beyond frustrated, to the point of tears. That was my low, I think. But once I could finally walk, I thought, if I can walk, I can do this.” And now, he has.
After more therapy sessions than he can count and classes to stay current with the Fort Worth Police Department, Pearce was ready for an important milestone, which he reached just a few days ago. “I had to get my doctor to agree that I’m ready to go back and do my job,” he said, “Which wasn’t a hard thing, because all the functional capacity exams show, technically, I’m well enough to do the job.”
Pearce jumped through every single hoop to get back on the street. And then, it was time to qualify with his duty weapon, the same one from the day when he was shot. CBS 11 News was there when, for the first time in 20 months, Pearce held his gun with a range instructor judging his every move.
After an hour, it was done. Fort Worth police officer Matt Pearce was back — 614 days after the worst moment of his life came the best moment of his new life. “To not go back, to me, is like losing. I’m not about to lose. I didn’t come this far to lose,” said Pearce. “To not come back would be, that guy who shot me wins. That ain’t going to happen. I refuse to let that happen.”
Pearce reports to the Fort Worth Police Department in uniform on Tuesday, for the first time since the shooting. It will be up to the chief as to when he actually goes out on patrol. Pearce’s wife is as nervous now as she was when he first signed up to be an officer. But she knows — and supports — what this means to him.
WEB EXTRA: Extended Interview With Officer Matt Pearce