FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – It has been one year since Ofc. Matt Pearce was shot while chasing robbery suspects in Fort Worth, and police on Wednesday released a new video of Pearce recalling his experience that day. The video includes our first look at Pearce’s body camera footage from when he was injured in the line of duty.
“That morning was, it was exceptionally slow,” Pearce remembered. “I don’t think I answered a call all morning.” But his luck was about to change. He was notified about an armed and dangerous aggravated robbery suspect in the area who had already made threats to law enforcement.
Pearce and the other officers were trying to arrest Ed McIver Sr. and Ed McIver Jr. after the father and son led authorities on a dangerous car chase. At one point during the pursuit, Pearce used stop sticks in an attempt to slow down the suspect vehicle, but it was unsuccessful.
The suspects ultimately exited their vehicle and took off on foot into a heavily wooded area. This can be seen in Pearce’s body camera footage, as he was the first officer trailing the McIvers when they started to run. Pearce continued to follow them. “The driver exits and starts running through an extremely thick wooded area,” Pearce said. “I don’t know that I’ve ever run through brush that thick before. But wherever he went, I followed.”
Pearce then ran into a barbed wire fence. McIver was able to flip himself over the obstacle, but Pearce’s police gear prevented him from going any further. He looked for a post to climb and remembered falling over as he cleared the fence. Pearce started to get himself back up, but saw the suspect with his gun raised.
A chilling image from Pearce’s body camera shows the suspect approaching with his gun drawn.
“I felt excruciating pain in my right leg, just excruciating pain. I didn’t know what happened,” Pearce continued. “But he’s still shooting me.” The officer was struck five times — in the leg, arm and cheek — all within close range. After the gunfire stopped, he remembered seeing blood pouring from his face.
The suspect’s shadow can be seen approaching Pearce as he falls to the ground, playing dead. “What am I going to do? I can’t die. I’ve got kids to go home to. I’ve got a family. Now is not the time to die,” Pearce said. Then comes an exchange that was at first confusing for the officer.
Pearce heard someone say, “We got one.”
“In my mind, I’m scared to death because I think that that is the guy that just shot me talking to the other guy that was in the car,” Pearce explained. “And they’re contemplating how they’re going to hurt somebody else.” But what Pearce actually heard were his peers. The man who shot Pearce was shot and killed by another officer. However, nobody knew that Pearce was there and injured, just a few yards away.
When police spotted movement and dark shoes in the bushes, they believed that it was the second suspect — still unaware that Pearce had been hurt. Pearce recognized what was happening and began to signal at his fellow officers, “I’m down! Blue! Blue! Blue! Blue! Blue! Blue! I’m blue!”
It was Ofc. James Minter who found Pearce and tried to administer some amount of first aid, all while the second suspect was still on the loose. After an hours-long manhunt, authorities located 21-year-old McIver Jr. and took him into custody. McIver Sr. was the shooter who injured Pearce.
Two months later, Pearce was released from the hospital. He worked through rehab and moved from a wheelchair to walking on his own. He spent some time last summer attending community events and speaking about the shooting. Pearce was then able to return to work — in a limited capacity — in October. He still goes to physical therapy several times each week.
Pearce appears to be doing much better these days. “I feel good, given where I was and where I’m at now,” the officer added in an interview with CBS 11 News on Wednesday morning, one year after the attack that changed his life. “I survived, and that’s really all that matters.”
Pearce has been with the Fort Worth Police Department since 2009. During the Wednesday interview, he said, “I wasn’t doing anything extraordinary that day. I was just doing my job.”