Officer Tim Davis Returns to Patrol After Serious Brain Injury

By Jeff Raasch, Reporter

Cedar Rapids police officer Tim Davis (left) walks with Sgt. Brian Been at the scene of a report of gunshots being fired in the 1600 block of Fourth Avenue SE on Monday, Aug. 29, 2011, in southeast Cedar Rapids, Iowa.(SourceMedia Group News/Jim Slosiarek)

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By James Steward

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – Police Officer Tim Davis returned to the streets of Cedar Rapids, about 27 months after an assault on duty had him fighting for his life.

Davis, 32, was partnered with a training officer on patrol in July, after he passed tests to measure his psychological well-being, firearms proficiency and physical fitness. On Monday, he guarded shell casings in the middle of Fourth Avenue SE after a report of gunshots.

Police Chief Greg Graham said Davis will remain with a partner for at least the next three months, as he completes the same field training all new officers go through. He is taking reports, making arrests and has no unique restrictions.

“I certainly think the future is bright for him,” Graham said. “Eventually, barring some bizarre hiccup, I think he will be able to attain his goal, and our goal, of being out there again by himself.”

Davis suffered severe brain swelling and a fractured skull on March 29, 2009 when 17-year-old Jose Rockiett struck him with a handgun, causing him to fall backward and hit his head on the street. He had been in the area searching for three teenage boys involved in a robbery.

“The doctors were saying he wasn’t going to make it through the night,” Graham said. “To go from that to watching him drive a patrol car is pretty amazing.”

Davis spent 39 days in the hospital. Surgeons eventually inserted a titanium plate to protect his skull. The assault left him with short term memory loss, made problem-solving difficult and drastically altered his personality, family and co-workers said.

Rockiett, now 20, was sentenced to 25 years in prison for robbery, willful injury and interference with official acts in the case. He will not be eligible for parole until 2024.

About four months after the incident, Davis was back at work, but restricted to data entry tasks. He eventually started handling evidence and investigating minor property crimes. He spent the last several months dealing with concerns from residents at the front desk of the Police Station.

Davis declined an interview request, but released the following statement: “I’m happy to be back at the job I enjoy doing.”

Graham said Davis has no symptoms from the incident that would prevent him from being a police officer, and is still making medical improvement, according to his doctors. He is working four 10-hour shifts each week, and recalls much of his training before the injury.

Since his return to the street, Graham said Davis has seemed more confident and more talkative.

“We’re evaluating him on a daily basis,” Graham said. “Right now, he’s doing great. We expect his field training to last quite a while longer. He’s got to go through all the shifts and through all the possible situations he can go through, for us and for him, to feel comfortable about him riding by himself.”

Davis could have opted to take a medical retirement since he was hurt while on duty, and still could. He would then receive a percentage of his salary for the rest of his life. Graham said Davis has been adamant throughout the process about his desire to return to full-time police work.

“I think the world of the guy, for his courage and perseverance in this,” Graham said. “He’s had a lot of setbacks, but he’s been focused on what he wanted.”

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