The video from a police dashboard camera capturing a shooting earlier this year in Geauga County might be disturbing to watch, but it's an important reminder of the work law enforcement officers perform in our society.
The fact that it takes place in the sleepy, heavily Amish community of Middlefield demonstrates that officers everywhere no matter how small or quaint the town constantly place their lives on the line.
That's why we recommend that you visit tribtoday.com and see first-hand what a truly honorable professional is criminal justice.
In the early evening March 10, Middlefield Officer Erin Thomas, on training duty with her instructing officer Brandon Savage, pulled over James L. Gilkerson, 42, of Mentor-on-the-Lake.
Gilkerson failed to yield at a stop sign when turning from East High Street onto North State Avenue.
The officers stopped him on North State near Tare Creek Parkway, a little south of Mary Yoder's Amish Kitchen restaurant. Gilkerson exited the vehicle firing an AK-47 style semi-automatic rifle. He fired 33 rounds; Savage 29; and Thomas 17.
After cruiser windows shattered and shrapnel splintered from the powerful gun blasts, the incident ended when officers killed Gilkerson.
But Thomas sustained serious gunshot injuries to her left-hand fingers, shrapnel was embedded in her right wrist and she received a gunshot wound to her left thigh. She was transported by helicopter to Metro Hospital in Cleveland, where she underwent surgery to repair her injuries. Thomas has yet to return to work and it is unclear whether she ever will.
Savage sustained minor injuries to his left knee from flying fragments. He was treated and released from University Hospital in Geauga, returned to work and has been promoted.
Police found 400 rounds of ammunition loaded into 10 magazines and two knives on the front seat of Gilkerson's car. Literature on bomb making, rifle fighting and insurgency was found in the trunk.
Nobody knows his motive for accumulating the arsenal or for firing on the police.
Unfortunately, there are Gilkersons among us. More importantly, there are Savages and Thomases on police forces everywhere. If your respect for the men and women in blue ever wavers, the dashcam video of this incident is all the proof you should need to realize there are heroes among us.