Sergeant shot in face speaks out

April 7, 2011 8:29:14 PM PDT
A Conroe police officer who lost his eye in a life or death shootout spoke publicly for the first time, saying that right now, he's focusing on what really matters in life. The shooting happened just five days ago outside a bakery in Conroe. Now we're hearing firsthand from the officer whose life was forever changed in a matter of seconds. Sgt. James Kelemen with the Conroe Police Department said, "I'm just happy to be here. Any time I can see my wife and kids, I'm happy. I can deal with the eye."

Sgt. Kelemen says when he was shot, one of the first things he did was grab his phone and call his wife to tell her he loves her. Today he's more excited than ever to be able to tell her that in person.

He said, "Sorry I'm not very photogenic."

Sgt. Kelemen was cracking a joke as he wore an eye patch. Kelemen spoke out publicly for the first time Thursday afternoon about the shooting that could have taken his life this weekend.

He said, "You hear people all the time say that when we get dressed we know this is a possibility. I never thought it would happen to me. I don't think anybody does, but it's the reality of the job."

Sgt. Kelemen says he's watched the dramatic dashcam video. On it, you can hear him begging suspect James Hill to put down his weapon outside a Conroe bakery, and then see Hill fire that shot that hit the sergeant's right eye.

"I had my phone in my shirt," Sgt. Kelemen recalled. "I called my wife to let her know what was going on and that I loved her and I loved my kids. At the time I didn't think I was going to make it."

Sgt. Kelemen says he didn't shoot the suspect right away because he was unsure if there were people inside the bakery.

"I couldn't tell if someone was behind the window or not, and I just couldn't take that chance," he said.

Doctors have told the police officer that they will implant a ceramic eye in the next few weeks. After that, he can't wait to get back to work.

"My sense of humor isn't always on time," Sgt. Kelemen said. "I can't say enough that I didn't think I was going to be here and that makes it so much easier for me."

The sergeant says when he first came back to the police department to see the dramatic video, all the other officers wore eye patches to lighten the mood.

As for questions on if he should have fired sooner, he says he won't do any Monday morning quarterbacking, but if any other police department can learn any lessons from the video, he hopes it will help.

Load Comments