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Psychological Trauma Keeping Wash. Deputy From Job

Psychological trauma suffered by a Spokane County, Wash. Sheriff's deputy may prevent him from returning to the job.

Deputy Eric Johnson was one of the first on scene after fugitive Charles Wallace opened fire on fellow deputies Mike Northway and Matt Spink in June 2012, according to The Spokesman-Review.

The deputy stood guard with a rifle over his colleagues' bleeding bodies and went on medical leave two months later.

His doctors recent told county officials that he is not ready to go back to work now and he "may never be."

Johnson was officially notified late last year that he’d be fired if he didn't return to work or offer reasons beyond the psychological trauma for why he couldn't return.

"All the information we were getting back from his doctors is they don’t know if he'd ever be able to perform the essential duties of a deputy sheriff," Undersheriff Jeff Tower Tower told the newspaper. "That leaves us in an awkward spot. We have to make a determination. We can't leave the position open forever."

Johnson has worked at the Sheriff's Office since 1996 and a decision on his employment is expected as soon as next week.

Northway and Spink survived the shooting, but suffered mentally as well as physically.

Spink returned to light duty in November, but Northway -- who was struck by four bullets -- is still recovering.

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