Tribal officer shot in Camp Verde shares his long road to recovery
CAMP VERDE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - More than two months into his recovery after being shot in the line of duty, Sgt. Preston Brogdon is now sharing his story, including how far he’s come since that February day and the work ahead of him. “I don’t want to say I’m broken, but I know I am and have to heal and that’s the hardest part,” Brogdon said Tuesday. “I try to walk around my yard. I tried to put a piece of plastic on my truck yesterday, and it was four bolts, and it took me like three hours. So, that’s the hardest part, just the healing, knowing that I have to heal.”
Brogdon was released from a rehabilitation facility in Chandler on April 12, with his wife Bailey at his side. Bailey was home with the couple’s four children when a sergeant knocked on her door to tell her that her husband had been shot in the stomach. That was on Wednesday, Feb. 9. “It went through his belt and punctured his small intestine, and then on the way out shattered his pelvis and his hip, and the bullet was lodged against his skin,” Bailey said. “The only time I got concerned was when the firefighter said that he felt very optimistic ‘cause in my mind, there was nothing to be optimistic about because he was going to be fine.”
Brogdon and another officer were in Camp Verde to look into a report of gunfire the evening of Feb. 9. The woman who called 911 later told police she thought she heard officers telling a man to drop his gun, and he responded by saying “something about being left alone,” according to the criminal complaint. That man, Valentin Rodriguez, opened fire on the officers, hitting Brogdon, the FBI said. He was air-lifted to a Phoenix hospital.
According to court documents, officers found a semi-automatic rifle and ammunition at the scene. Rodriguez’s daughter, who wasn’t identified in the court documents, said she was talking to her father on the phone Wednesday night, and he told her he saw two officers with guns before she heard multiple gunshots.
A search of Rodriguez’s home turned up other firearms and ammunition. He was not allowed to have weapons because of a 2005 felony conviction, according to court documents. He reportedly tried to have that right restored but was denied.
Rodriguez was charged with two counts of assaulting a federal officer and two counts of discharging a firearm in a violent crime. The federal charges were possible because Brogdon and his fellow officer have special law enforcement certifications with the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs that allow them to investigate federal crimes on the tribe’s reservation.
Rodriquez got away that night, but his body was found on Feb. 26 in the Verde River near Tunlii Crossing. An autopsy confirmed it was him, but the medical examiner has not said how or when he died. The FBI is continuing to investigate this case.
Chief Huibregtse with the Yavapai-Apache National Police said it was the first line of duty shooting in the department’s history. It was also the first officer involved shooting. “You are an inspiration to me, and my family, and our entire department, so we’ll be there for you, forever,” Huibregtse said.
The road ahead
After multiple surgeries and weeks of physical therapy, Brogdon will continue his recovery at home. Bailey said he has another six to 12 hard months ahead of him. Brogdon hopes to return to the Yavapai-Apache Police Department. Bailey said she expects him to make a full recovery, but she knows there will be setbacks along the way.
“My husband won’t give up and he’s going to push through and he is going to get better,” Bailey Brogdon, Sgt. Brogdon’s wife said.
“The hardest part is being broken. I’m not used to being broken, I’m used to getting up and dusting myself off and moving to the next thing and I can’t,” Sgt. Brogdon said.
The 32-year-old, father of four, said he knew law enforcement was for him during training when he was able to help a woman in need. “It answered the calling I needed, and serving from the military to serving now, it’s awesome,” he said. He’s been with the department for five years.
He’d like to return to the Yavapai Apache Police Department but he said it will depend on how he heals and how his family feels about it. “That would be an ultimate goal but I know my wife is going to want to talk me out of it. I know my oldest, she’s only six, but she’s already telling me I have to retire,” he joked.
Brogdon said he is incredibly grateful to the community for stepping up, holding fundraisers, and helping cover the costs associated with his recovery. Bailey also said the family’s small, tight-knit community has been amazingly supportive. “It’s been eye-opening to how beautiful my community is and how strong it is,” Bailey said a little more than a week after her husband was shot.
The family has set up this GoFundMe page to help cover expenses.
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