After being shot in the head during a domestic disturbance in July, Clearcreek Twp. police Officer Eric Ney said he's thankful for the amazing support received from residents, families and businesses following his injuries, but still wants to give back and serve the community.
Ney, 55, of Vandalia, said it took until September before he started to remember what happened to him. He was told a month ago that he will not be able to return to active police service. Ney still has a portion of a bullet fragment that remains in his head.
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After an eye examination last Friday, Ney said doctors showed him a scan of his damaged eye. He cannot see clearly out of his left eye and he's not able to see flashing lights.
"They said the damage done was too severe and that the risks outweigh the benefits," he said. "The bullet fragment has dropped against the optic nerve. It feels different as the fragment keeps moving around."
Ney said he received the OK from his doctors to drive again a week ago during the day. He has not been cleared to drive at night.
He said he'll miss interacting with people in the township during his shifts, which ran as long as 12 to 16 hours because the department was short-handed. Working long shifts didn't bother him but he said it kept him from spending more time with his family.
Prior to joining Clearcreek Twp. police 14 years ago, Ney worked for a steel plant in Columbus for 15 years. When he wasn't patrolling Clearcreek Twp., Ney worked as a resource officer at the Warren County Alternative School on his off days.
Sgt. Nicole Cordero and Ney responded July 12 to a domestic violence complaint at 5945 N. state Route 48 in Clearcreek Twp. They attempted to arrest Mark Evers at the the residence on domestic violence charges when Evers pulled a handgun and shot Ney in the face.
This caused Ney's immediate incapacitation and inflicted critical injury, rendering him helpless at the scene. Fearing for her life and the life of Ney, Cordero immediately shot Evers with her handgun. During the exchange of gunfire, it was determined that Evers also suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head and died at the scene.
Ney said the ordeal, which included multiple hospital stays, surgeries and rehab stays, enabled him to become closer with his family, particularly with his grown children, and closer to God by furthering his deep Christian faith.
"They said I wouldn't make it after I arrived at the hospital, but I want to be there to help the community and pass along the 'good word,'" he said. "Before this happened, I was not close to my kids every day. After this happened, it's unbelievable how much closer our family has become. I've seen my kids more since the incident than I have in the last five years."
Right now, Ney said he's praying for God's guidance as he figures out what to do with his life post law enforcement.
"I've got a lot more important things to do," Ney said. "God had a reason for me to survive. He has plans for me and I'm going to let him guide me."
His wife, Lisa, said after her husband was released from the hospital the first time, she thought they were firmly on the road to recovery. That changed when blood clots were forming and there was air seeping into the brain.
"That set him back," she said. "That was the worst. I started to live my life day to day because I realized that is all you have."
Lisa Ney said during the time her husband was in the hospital and undergoing various surgeries, she really couldn't talk to anyone and the doctors and surgeons weren't sure what would happen next. Because of the massive blood clots, Eric was confused.
"Thank God for my kids," she said. "They kept me company. As I prayed for his recovery, Eric never complained. He's a fighter and I knew we'd get through things."
Before the shooting, she said she had a false sense of security for her husband's safety on the job. There had never been an officer shot in the line of duty or an officer-involved shooting in Clearcreek Twp. and she never thought anything would happen as Eric Ney went about policing the quiet township.
Since the July shooting of her husband, she has become more sensitive to other officer shootings.
"It's a nice community, but it was a huge shock to me ... As an officer's wife, I had a sense that all will be OK. I'm looking forward to the future."
Lisa Ney said she was surprised with the overwhelming support and love the community has shown to her husband.
"I'm thankful for our salvation. We have a close relationship and walk with God," she said. "I'm thankful we'll be together and serve God. We want to give back to the community. I can't believe the outpouring we received."
She said her husband has been changed after being saved a few years ago.
"Family is the most important thing and this made it more important," she said. "He realizes how important this is.
She said, "There a more good loving, caring people who want to help others than there are bad people. I never dreamed so many people would be so kind. That's why I want to give back."
Lisa Ney said, "God gave me a sense of peace no matter how long it would take.... I am so blessed for him (Eric) and my children. I'm praying that 2023 is a beautiful year."
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