DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Nearly a year after her partner was killed and she was gravely wounded in the line of duty, a Dallas Police officer is being honored and speaking about what happened publicly for the first time.
Officer Crystal Almeida was shot in the face and there were fears she would not survive or that she would be disfigured.
But Officer Almeida is not only looking great, she’s back at work and an inspiration to others which is what she was honored for Thursday.
A room full of officers gave Officer Almeida a long standing ovation when she was presented with the Theodore Roosevelt Award. The award honors one officer each year who overcame an illness or on-the-job injury.
It was a year ago this month, when Almeida and her patrol partner Rogelio Santander were sent to the Home Depot on Forest Lane to arrest a shoplifter.
Almost as soon as they were in a room with him he started shooting.
Both officers were wounded.
Santander later died from his injuries.
Almeida lost an eye and had multiple surgeries but was back on the job within three months.
Her struggle earned her the award which annually goes to officers who overcome adversity from injuries and illness.
“This past year is been very difficult and life-altering,” said Officer Almeida. “I have learned a lot about myself during this time and continue to learn something new every day. There are not enough ‘thank yous’ that I could say to everyone. First, I would like to thank God for getting me the strength to heal as fast as I have and for aligned me to continue living my life.”
Almeida still has to go through physical therapy.
She not only returned to work. She joined the fugitive and gang units which are far from cushy jobs in the department.
“After a month in the hospital and a few months of therapy, my new life started I remember being frustrated and angry I could not do things I used to be able to so easily. but I was the happiest when I was able to return to work and learn new things,” Officer Almeida said.
Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall said, “I just want to say ‘thank you’ for each and everything that you do every day with Dallas Police Department we love you God bless you.”
In sharing what officer Almeida has gone through, Chief Hall continued, “She has endured and continues to endure long hours of physical therapy every day and she nonetheless return to duty on July 24, three months after she was left to die. She continues to display the same high spirits and fortitude she had prior to being shot and is an inspiration to a fellow officers.”