One paralyzed Peoria, Arizona, police officer is being praised for never giving up on his calling, even in the face of tragedy.
Honor Guard investigator Bill Weigt was able to present the American flag beside fellow members of the Peoria Honor Guard at the Special Olympics Arizona opening ceremonies on Friday and stood for the national anthem for the first time in 14 years, thanks to a specialized wheelchair.
Weigt was shot and paralyzed while in pursuit of a suspect in December 2005, according to KSAZ-TV.
He was shot in the chest, just above his bulletproof vest. The bullet “hit a rib, ricocheted down to my spine, and then paralyzed me from the mid-chest down,” Weigt told KSAZ.
Though the bullet hit him above the protective part of his bulletproof vest, Weigt is still a strong advocate for wearing them because they save lives.
Weigt said that any time he finds out an officer has been shot, he prays they had their vest on.
“It’s the simplest thing in the world. Why not just wear it? It should be easy, but it’s a personal thing for me,” Weigt said. “But if they chose not to, I wish they would. All of them, I wish they would.”
Despite his horrific injury, Weigt returned to work at the police department a year later — not as an officer, but as a member of the criminal investigations division, according to a video posted on the Peoria Police Facebook page in 2017.
KSAZ reported that the shooter who hit Weigt had killed another man previous to the altercation with the police because of a quarrel about marijuana. The shooter’s accomplice was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Weigt continues to serve his community with the Peoria police department, not only through his investigative duty but also through his support of people with special needs.
The opening ceremony in Avondale kicked off the 2019 Fall Games for Special Olympics Arizona. The athletes participating will compete in swimming, softball and bocce competitions.
Police departments across the state are known for their support of SOAZ. The biggest fundraiser for the Special Olympics is the Law Enforcement Torch Run.
“In Arizona, law enforcement around the state raise over one million dollars per year that goes directly back to creating increased opportunities for Special Olympics Arizona athletes. Without their support, continued development would be near impossible,” the Special Olympics Arizona website reads.
“In the same respect, we at Special Olympics Arizona would like to ensure that we share not only the impact that law enforcement personnel have had on our community but express our immense gratitude for all that they continue to do.”
Weigt has gone above and beyond by both continuing to work with the police department as an investigator and by empowering those with disabilities, even in the face of a tragic injury — he truly is an inspiring image of dedication.
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