CALDWELL, Texas — It’s been a harrowing journey to August 2022.
“You will heal," John Pollock said. "Your injuries may be significant, you may face different challenges, but there are people out there who love law enforcement and care about you.”
One year ago on August 17, the Burleson County chief deputy was shot in the jaw while serving a felony warrant off FM-60. The suspect, James Matalice Smith of Somerville, later shot a state trooper, and was shot by officers in the standoff. The trooper made it out of the conflict alive. Smith did not.
For Pollock, that harrowing dash to the hospital in his colleague’s police vehicle will live with him forever.
“You know when I got off the phone with [my wife], she said 'I have to get ready and get to the hospital," Pollock said. "I remember turning to [my colleague] and saying to tell my kids I love them, if I don’t make it.”
Pollock's mouth was wired shut as the bones in his head healed – a bullet removed from his neck.
“Of course I dealt with pain," Pollock said. "It’s a significant injury, the bullet wound, and the care after. I’ve been very fortunate in my recovery. I didn’t have any infection.”
Pollock came back to work for light duty just two weeks after the shooting. While Sheriff Gene Hermes supported Pollock taking as much time as he needed, the chief deputy didn’t want more time.
“I could still do something," Pollock said. "You know, part of my healing was getting back to work and getting up and not laying there. I think when you get knocked down, you’ve got to get back up, you’ve got to drive, you’ve got to push yourself.”
Pollock said he does experience negative thoughts and emotions sometimes in relation to the shooting, and it’s hard to see his wife and family worry about him when he goes to work.
But one major factor has helped him cope with recovery – gratitude of the spirit.
“You know, I remember the first photograph that was taken of me in the hospital," he said. "... I knew then and there it was by God’s mercy and grace I was still there.”
Pollock encourages other injured officers to seek comfort in their communities – insisting there are still people, like the people of the Brazos Valley, who love and who care.
Pollock has spoken at several church groups now, sharing his testimony.
“I love sharing what’s happened to me in a positive way, to help others," he said.