Volatile. Unpredictable. Dreaded. All words used by law enforcement officers to describe responding to domestic violence calls. A local deputy is still recovering nearly a year after being shot twice in that situation.
Guilford County Sheriff’s Deputy Matt Self still has nerve damage to his hand, keeping him on light-duty at the Sheriff’s Department. Dep. Self says domestic violence calls are some of the most dangerous officers face, because people are full of passion and generally more bold and empowered in their own homes. But his experience won’t keep him from going back on patrol.
“I couldn’t imagine doing anything else,” he said.
Dep. Self was just doing his job on the evening of February 27, 2017, responding to a 911 hang up call. Sheriff B. J. Barnes says 53-year-old Donald Meador had dialed 911 and hung up without saying anything. He allegedly told his wife that they were going to die. Barnes says Meador was armed and intended to ambush arriving officers. Dep. Self was first on the scene and shot in the arm and hip.
In 2016, according to the FBI, nearly 10 percent of law enforcement officers who were feloniously killed on the job were answering domestic disturbance calls.
“It’s one of the more dangerous calls we go to, just because there’s so many unknowns,” said Self.
“These domestic calls are the most dreaded call of any officer to go to, because you never know what you’re going to find there,” said Sheriff Barnes.
Sheriff Barnes says although his deputies have single-man cars, all domestic calls require back-up.
“To make sure that there is some support there and that the help is there for them,” the Sheriff said.
Since that night, Self feels even more compassion for those injured or killed responding to domestic violence incidents, like two officers in Westerville, Ohio.
“I find myself thinking of that and holding not only the officers that are involved, but also the family members and things that they have to go through of losing a loved one,” said Self.
Meador also shot his wife during the incident and she survived. Meador was charged with attempted first-degree murder. His last court date was in August of 2017. The case is still pending and there is no trial date set. He's being held at the Guilford County Jail.
Self is left with memories and scars and a new appreciation for life.
“I’ve thought about it a lot and it’s just one of those things you have to battle with, but I can say that it’s made me a better person,” Self said.
Self has had two hand surgeries and will likely undergo one more, this spring. After that though, he hopes to be cleared for full-duty and get back to patrolling and the job he loves.
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