Trooper Daniel Harrell was shot in the face and neck. A suspect rammed his patrol car. Still, he continued pursuit until backup could arrive and make an arrest.
“He stopped. I stopped behind him,” Harrell told the North Carolina Department of Transportation in 2019. “Just as I was about to get out of my car, he leaned out the window and fired approximately four times, striking me in the corner of the lip and just above my eye.”
Harrell, who was seriously injured during that Jan. 14, 2019, traffic stop was presented Monday with the Congressional Badge of Bravery.
Congressman G.K. Butterfield and Sen. Thom Tillis were on hand. State troopers lined the auditorium at Wilson Community College.
“Without question, your acts of heroism, Trooper Harrell, on Jan. 14, 2019, your acts were just above and beyond the call of duty,” Butterfield said.
Harrell walked sat in the front row to listen to the lawmakers praise his determination and courage. He walked onto the stage where Tillis placed the medal over his head, then returned to his seat to rousing applause.
In honoring Harrell, lawmakers also spoke of the men and women who took the same risks in the line of duty and weren’t able to make it home.
“Never doubt that the American people stand behind you,” Tillis said. “And never doubt that you stand on the thin blue line between civil society and chaos.”
Harrell, bleeding heavily and miles away at home when he was shot, said the thought of his pregnant wife and their first daughter kept him going.
“I felt like it wasn’t the end. I felt like I was okay. I was going to be fine,” Harrell said. “It was just hard to think … that close to not meeting my daughter.”
Harrell, a third-generation law enforcement officer, spent two days at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville before finishing his recovery at home.
John David Jones, the driver of the car Harrell tried to pull over, is serving a 10-year sentence in federal prison, convicted of unlawful possession of ammunition. Two other men were charged with possession of a stolen motor vehicle in connection with the crime.