CHICAGO - Six Chicago police officers who survived a wild gun battle in July spoke out for the first time on Tuesday.
Three of those officers were shot when a carjacking suspect opened fire outside the 25th District police station on the Northwest Side.
With painful memories still fresh, the six officers received awards from the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation.
“Congratulations! We’re proud of you guys. You make us all proud of how you handled that dangerous situation. So thank you very much,” said Phil Cline of the CPMF.
It happened July 30th as police were transporting a carjacking suspect to the station at Grand and Central. Lovelle Jordan, 25, was able to slip his handcuffed arms under his legs and retrieve a gun hidden in his groin.
Officer Jason Cloherty opened the back door of the police car and got blasted in the face.
“I was shot right underneath the chin. So my voice is scratchy. I’m getting better every day,” he said.
Within seconds, a full-scale gun battle erupted with more than 50 bullets fired.
“It was like time was slowing down and all the training I got, all the scenarios we go through, it just kicked in. You’re on auto pilot and I knew exactly what to do,” said Officer Timothy Vasiliadis.
One officer who was hit had just received a new protective vest from the Get Behind the Vest program, which raises money to buy new protective gear for cops.
“That was the first day I was wearing that vest and I do believe it did save my life that day. I’m very grateful,” Officer James Kurth said.
“I thank God that I’m alive,” said Officer Veronica Negron.
Negron brought her daughters to the ceremony who say they get angry when they hear people malign the police.
“I was scared because without my mom, I don’t know what I would do. To know she was in a shooting, it’s scary because people forget police officers are human,” Skyler Negron said.