PLEASANT LAKE, Ind. (AP) — A northeastern Indiana police officer shot in the face nearly six weeks ago says he is making steady improvement and hopes to eventually return to work.
‘‘If I’m able to return, that’s what I’m going to do,’’ Waterloo Deputy Marshal Steve Brady told The Star of Auburn on Monday. ‘‘I’m optimistic I’ll go back to work and continue to be a police officer. Time will tell.’’
Brady was responding to a call about a couple whose car was in a ditch in the town about 25 miles north of Fort Wayne when he was shot. The bullet entered his face just below the left eye socket and exited behind his right ear, fracturing a bone in his jaw, shattering the orbital bone under his left eye and the roof of his mouth and breaking another bone on the right side of his jaw.
His jaw has been wired shut since surgery on Dec. 21. He has a feeding tube in his stomach. He also has lost some hearing in his left ear and has vision problems in his left eye. Further surgery on his ear to repair the damage has been delayed while his jaw heals.
He said it’s been hard sitting around.
‘‘I’m having to force myself to be patient,’’ Brady said. ‘‘I just have to take it a day at a time. It’s going to be a long process, not only physically but mentally.’’
He remains weak but is able to walk and can speak with a clenched jaw. He said he has good days and bad.
His wife, Jan, is also a member of the six-member police force in the town of Waterloo. She said she will support her husband if he wants to return to work, saying she understands the dangers.
‘‘It’s what you sign up for,’’ she said.
Brady said he can’t discuss the details of the shooting because the case is pending. According to a probable cause affidavit filed earlier this month, Brady told investigators he found a couple walking through town and asked for identification. They said they didn’t have any.
Brady said he was asking the woman her name when the man shot him.
Ralph Hardiek was shot to death by police about three hours later. Police said he and his girlfriend were hiding under the deck of a nearby home. Police say he refused demands to surrender, then pulled out a gun. Hardiek was killed and his girlfriend Julie King, 33, was critically injured.
The probable cause affidavit said Hardiek and King had planned to go door-to-door robbing people at gunpoint to get money for a trip to Utah so Hardiek could avoid being sent to prison on a drug charge.
King is charged with felony murder, conspiracy to commit murder and aiding in attempted murder. The felony murder charge accuses her of committing a crime in which a person is killed — in this case Hardiek. She was being held in the DeKalb County Jail.
Brady said he holds no animosity for Hardiek or King.
‘‘I’m more angry how this has affected my family, in particular my wife,’’ he said.
He said he also feels fortunate.
‘‘It could have been far, far worse,’’ he said.