Terri Ferguson Smith
If there was ever a case of breaking a rule for the greater good, Officer Patrick Gale has claimed it.
Gale was named Meridian Police Department officer of the year on Tuesday for saving the life of a child who had been shot.
Chief of Police James Lee introduced Gale to the Meridian City Council, saying Gale had risked his career to save the boy's life.
"On Dec. 23, Officer Patrick Gale received a phone call from dispatch that he had a gunshot victim," Lee said. "When Officer Gale got there, he found out that the gunshot victim was a child."
Ju'Zavius Taylor, 7, was losing blood, having been accidentally shot in the abdomen by another child playing with a gun. Gale knew that he had to act fast.
Lee said it is against police policy to transport an injured person in a patrol car and Gale knew that.
"Officer Gale risked his entire career. He thought he needed to do something right then and there," Lee said. "Officer Gale picked the child up, put him in his patrol car and transported him to the hospital."
As it turned out, it was the right call to make, since the ambulance service was quite busy that day.
"By the time we got to the hospital, I found an EMT driver outside crying," Lee said. "He was crying because he said, 'We couldn't get there. We could not get there. We were backed up on calls.' If Gale hadn't put the young man in the car and got him to the hospital, he would have been 10-7; he would have been dead."
Taylor survived and he was present for Gale's recognition on Tuesday. After giving Gale a big hug, Taylor said, "Thank you for saving me."
By that time, there was hardly a dry eye in City Hall, as council members and onlookers applauded loudly for both the officer and the boy he saved.
The child's mother, Katisha Young, delivered a tearful thank you to Gale, and told him her son still speaks of him often.
"I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart," she said.
Gale said he was aided in transporting Taylor by the boy's grandfather, who held him as they drove to the hospital.
"The grandfather was with us and he was back there with him making sure he stayed awake, stayed awake. He wanted to make sure he kept his eyes open," Gale said. "He was still alert when we got to the hospital. My main thing was to make sure he kept his eyes open and stayed alert."
Mayor Percy Bland had praise for Gale as well.
"We are very proud of what Officer Gale did," Bland said. "You could see the emotion from the mother and the child — they are very grateful. He saved that young boy's life and that family will forever be grateful for what he did on that day."