OKC Officer Shot In The Line Of Duty To Be Honored

Monday, April 28th 2014, 7:19 pm
By: News 9

An Oklahoma City police officer, shot in the line of duty while pursuing a suspect, will be receiving the medal of honor at this year's police banquet.

He talked with News9 Crime Tracker Adrianna Iwasinski about how lucky he is to be alive. Sgt. Jimmy Cortez is a 14 year police veteran, and came just feet away from the suspect, who fired multiple shots at point blank range.

1/4/2014 Related Story: Police Identity Suspect Shot, Killed By OKC Officer

"I clocked in 12 p.m. for my shift, and then the shooting happened about 12:20 p.m.," said Cortez.

Sgt. Cortez can still remember that day like it was yesterday. It was the afternoon of January 3, 2014 - when emergency crews were responding to an officer down.

"It just broke loose," remembers Cortez. "It was suspect on the ground, suspect running. I was able to get there, and crossed paths with the subject at Hefner and Western."

Sgt. Cortez was in his car when he confronted 21-year-old Joeshawn Edwards Williams.

"I got out of my car and ordered him to the ground," said Cortez. "And I could see him pulling at the gun belt - and I thought ‘God, is this kid really going to do this?' I already had my weapon out, and I thought surely he won't do this."

Cortez says he took off running, but as he closed in on him, he heard the gunshots.

"I saw what seemed to me like the biggest barrel I have ever seen in my life come around the jacket - and I heard two loud pops," recalls Cortez. "And then, I heard a 3rd shot and a 4th shot - and by then I was returning fire."

Sgt. Cortez was hit in the leg, and rushed to the hospital. But Joeshawn WIlliams was shot and killed at the scene. And Cortez realizes it could have been him that was shot and killed in the line of duty.

"You have a healthy respect for the loss of life," said Cortez. "Taking life, and honestly being prepared to give your own life."

Sgt. Cortez says this was the first time in his career to ever be shot at by a suspect. He says he can remember the searing pain and burn in his leg. He credits God and his training at the Oklahoma City police Department for saving his life.

"I never expected it," said Cortez. "Forty-one seconds before that situation, I was sending a message - saying ‘it looks like it's going to be an easy day'."

Cortez says he can't thank his Oklahoma City Police family enough for standing by his side through the entire ordeal.

"You wear blue and gray, and you wear that gold badge," said Cortez. "And I'm going to tell you on that day, I had every one of my brothers and sisters with me. They were there and it was a comforting feeling."

And Cortez says he is honored and humbled to receive this year's medal of honor.

"You know there have been so many fine officers out there that have lost their life," said Cortez. "To even be held in those ranks is very humbling. I don't know if I deserve it. I survived - I survived."

Cortez is one of two Oklahoma City Police Officers who will be receiving the medal of honor this year.