Bears honor Chicago cop who nearly bled to death
BY ADAM JAHNS AND STEVE METSCH Staff Reporters December 2, 2012 1:52PM
Chicago Police officer Del Pearson shows the ceremonial coin used for the coin toss that he presented to referee Mike Carey before the start of the Chicago Bears-Seattle Seahawks NFL game Sunday December 2, 2012 at Soldier Field. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: January 4, 2013 6:16AM
More than eight months after Chicago Police Officer Del Pearson was shot in the chest and nearly bled to death, he was at Soldier Field on Sunday, handing the coin to the referee for the coin flip to before the Bears game against the Seattle Seahawks.
“It’s like every little kid’s dream when you’re growing up to be on a professional football field like that,” he said. “. . . Obviously, it’s an emotional time with the holidays and being with the my family and having my daughter with me here today. . . . It’s emotional and it’s a lot of fun. I’m very grateful.”
Pearson, 47, has thought constantly about what happened as he patrolled the streets the night of March 19.
He saw the gun in the hand of the man he intended to question. He thought about running for cover. He reached for his radio, but discovered his left arm wouldn’t move. Only then did he realize he had been shot and seriously wounded.
“It crossed my mind for a second that if I laid on this parkway, I was going to die,” Pearson, a married father of two, said Friday at his home in Chicago’s Mount Greenwood community. “It never crossed my mind again. I didn’t see any bright lights, never thought about dying.”
Now he reflects on being “very lucky.” He lost three-quarter’s of his blood. His colleagues and emergency crews saved him, as did a nurse, Mary Ann Brooks, at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where he stayed for more than a week.
“She saved my life in the room,” he said. “She was by my bedside the entire time I was in intensive care and took care of my family and my kids and my wife. It meant a lot to me.”
Pearson is recovering, but he isn’t back to work yet, and he wants to return after the holidays, even though it will be on desk duty until his left hand gets back to normal, if it ever does. It still tingles and is sometimes numb.
The bullet that entered his upper left chest, severed an artery, struck his spine and lodged in the back of his neck, has been removed. His fellow officers told him they’ll present it to him some day.
He has gone through seemingly countless hours of rehab and is champing at the bit to get back to work on the streets of the South Chicago District. But he knows that’s a long shot.
Instead, “I want to take the sergeant’s exam, get promoted, go back to school, get my master’s degree,” he said. “. . . I can’t make a fist. I can’t spread my fingers out. The sensory nerve is coming back, but the motor nerve isn’t coming back yet.”
Pearson and some other officers had stopped to question a group about an apparent curfew violation in the 8500 block of South Kingston Avenue. That’s when one man, Paris Sadler, took off, according to prosecutors. Pearson gave chase as Sadler ran to the home of a friend. When the friend wouldn’t let Sadler in, Sadler allegedly opened fire. A bullet struck Pearson in the chest above his bulletproof vest.
When Sgt. Christopher Kapa and Officer Kirsten Lund saw how badly Pearson was bleeding, they rushed him to Advocate Trinity Hospital in their squad car. He subsequently was transported to Christ Medical Center and underwent 5½ hours of surgery.
Meanwhile, Sadler, 20, is in the Cook County Jail, awaiting trial for attempted murder.
“I’ve been told the maximum sentence for attempted murder is 80 years,” Pearson said. “I don’t want him to see the outside until I’m dead and gone, so he’s got to do at least 60. That way, if I live to 100, he’s still in” prison.
Thoughts of the shooting, Pearson said, “were in my head, over and over and over again. I thought about it constantly for two weeks,” he said. “Then it stopped.”