PARAMUS, N.J. (CBS 2) — A Paramus police officer who nearly died after being shot in the line of duty shared her incredible story of survival for the first time on Thursday.
Speaking publicly for the first time since the February shootout that left her injured and a suspect dead, Officer Morgan talked about her desperate fight at the side of a highway.
“It’s disbelief — you’re like ‘I just got shot over a traffic ticket,’” she said.
She told CBS 2’s Lou Young that every second of her shootout with gunman Michael Carmody felt like it was several minutes — a slow-motion struggle for survival.
“What I thought was approximately eight minutes was (actually) 22 seconds long,” Officer Morgan said. “When I was asked how long I thought it was, it was eight minutes. I would have sworn by it. Your mind slows everything down.
“I made eye contact with him very briefly. What I thought was a significant amount of time, looking back was probably a millisecond. He made a furtive movement with his one arm, his right arm. It dropped. When the arm came back up I saw the weapon,” Morgan said.
She said that she knew immediately that she was hurt, that she had been shot.
And how badly did it hurt?
“Like a bullet,” she said.
Officer Morgan was hit twice by the man she’d pulled over for a traffic infraction. One bullet went through her side and out her hip; the other lodged behind her vest. Through it all, she never gave up.
“Fight or flight — I wasn’t fleeing,” she said. “Protect myself, protect (my co-worker), protect the people that were lined up un the ramp, just trying to get home.”
Lying in the snow bleeding, Officer Morgan returned fire with remarkable accuracy.
“It was absolutely astonishing to see that kind of coolness and that kind of response,” Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli said.
Morgan and Officer Ryan Mayor fired 30 shots between them during the gunfight. He, too, remained cool under fire.
“I saw one of my friends that was hurt, and it was tough to see it, but at the same time you’ve got to kind of put that aside and realize you still have a job to do at that point,” Officer Mayor said. “(Carmody) was still in the car with the gun. I didn’t know what he was doing.”
It ended when the gunman took his own life with a final bullet, and the fellow officers and friends were at each other’s side.
“He touched my shoulder, and he’s like, ‘you can stop, you can stop,’ because I was still trying to reload,” Officer Morgan said.
During the press conference, Officer Morgan said she tried to make herself small during the gunfight — a small target — and it might have saved her life. Everyone there agreed, though, that in spirit she’s anything but small.
The Bergen County prosecutor ruled Thursday that both officers were well within official guidelines for their actions during the gunfight.
The entire incident was caught on tape-from a police dashboard cam. The prosecutor said as soon as the attorney general reviews it and his report on the shooting, well get to see that as well.
The Paramus Police chief said Officer Morgan can return to duty whenever she feels she’s ready.
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