Twenty months after waking from a coma in a hospital room, Officer Matt Pearce made good Tuesday on a promise to return to full duty at the Fort Worth Police Department.
Pearce was in uniform for the first time since the line-of-duty shooting that critically injured him.
On March 15, 2016, Pearce was shot several times while pursuing a pair of armed robbery suspects in West Fort Worth. After two months in the hospital and several months of rehabilitation, Pearce initially returned to light desk duty last year. He's since passed his qualifying tests to reinstate his peace officer's license, which had been medically suspended.
Pearce said he had to work to prove he was ready to return to patrolling.
"I think if you ask a lot of people that weren't in my shoes, did they think I would have made it? No, I think there were a lot of people that say I should have medically retired and I was never going to come back and do this job," Pearce said. "But, it was never a doubt in my mind. I was never going to allow that to happen."
Pearce said the hardest part of his physical recovery was learning to use his right leg again. A bullet shattered his femur.
"Nothing is insurmountable. That was a real mountain to climb. I'm still climbing it. It's not done. I still go to therapy two days a week, and I'm still strengthening my leg," Pearce said. "It's not done yet, but with everything that's been said, I'm well enough to do the job."
Pearce will initially work with a partner for two weeks. He will eventually be part of the Medical Tactical Unit made up of officers who are also trained paramedics.
Pearce, who has two children, says his wife supported his decision to return. He says she is still just as nervous as she was the day he graduated from the police academy, but recognizes why he wants to return.
"I think she understands this is my passion is. This is where I'm happy," Pearce said.