As an injured Fort Worth police officer underwent another surgery on Monday morning, a restaurant of community members and some fellow officers came out in support by helping raise money for his family.
The fundraiser at Café Republic was for Officer Matthew Brazeal with the Fort Worth Police Department. Twenty-five percent of the proceeds are being donated to his family to help offset medical and offset expenses.
Brazeal has been recovering at the John Peter Smith Hospital after being hit by a suspected stolen vehicle on June 13. Police have identified the alleged driver as Ronnie Jackson, Jr. 38, who is currently facing charges of criminal attempted murder and evading arrest with a vehicle causing serious bodily injury.
Brazeal’s younger brother Jared said he has moved out of the ICU and most of his surgeries are done.
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“They’ve basically done all the pins and needles, bolts and whatnot of what they’re going to do,” Brazeal said. “As of yesterday, he was able to eat solid foods finally for the first time. I mean, he’s just come miles from where he came in.”
Brazeal has been with the Fort Worth Police Department for about three years, his brother said. He previously served as a law enforcement officer in Parker County and is a veteran of the U.S. Army.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions on hospital visits, his brother has only spoken with him over the phone.
“He was happy, you know? To make it out alive from that, what he went through, he was hurt pretty bad,” he said, referring to their conversation. “He’s staying strong. He’s a strong guy. He’s a real strong guy. He works out all the time, [you'd] be able to tell if you saw him. He’s mentally tough. He went to Iraq. I mean, he’s been through a lot.”
Though Brazeal has a long road to recover fully and it’s possible he may not work for another year, according to his brother, their family says it’s the fundraisers like the one on Monday that gives them encouragement.
Speaking with reporters at the event, his brother said the entire family was grateful. Department Public Information Officer Buddy Calzada said the gesture was the collaboration of the department, the Fort Worth Police Officer’s Association, and local law enforcement support groups.
“One of the biggest things I hear from the family is ‘you guys have gone out of your way.' In reality, we don’t know what else to do other than take care of a family of one of our officers,” Calzada said.
Recent events have put law enforcement in the national and local spotlights, with policing in general loudly questioned.
McKenzie Cierzan’s husband is also with the Fort Worth Police Department. She tells NBC 5, showing support for Brazeal’s family was just a small token of appreciation for him and the entire profession.
“My husband goes out every day. I couldn’t even begin to tell you the stories of what he has to see and experience. I couldn’t imagine doing what he does every day,” Cierzan said. “You know, there was a time with all the negativity that we see, that I was like, ‘do I want my husband to do this anymore?’ You see an officer get hurt and you see these families and these neighbors come out and support these officers, and you know, that’s what reminds me of how important it is that he suits up every day and goes out and goes to work and helps the community.”
While some called the fundraiser a small gesture for themselves, Jared Brazeal said it meant so much to their family.
“I think there’s always going to be support. I mean, regardless of what you see sometimes and the way you feel, people are always going to come together,” he said.
Calzada said more than $6,300 was raised from the fundraiser, excluding sales from t-shirts. For more information, click here.
Phillip Hall, an attorney for Jackson, told NBC 5 on Monday he could not comment on the case. However, he confirmed a competency evaluation has been requested for his client.