Author: Chief Joel F. Shults, Ed.D.
Carol Robinson Alabama Media Group, Birmingham
BIRMINGHAM — A Birmingham police officer wounded at the same time Sgt. Wytasha Carter was killed has now been released from the hospital.
The officer, whose name police have not publicly released, spent nine days at UAB Hospital before his release. “We received word from his family that he has made a tremendous recovery and was able to be released,’’ said Birmingham police Sgt. Johnny Williams. “As a department, we appreciate the many prayers and outpouring of support from the community and surrounding law enforcement agencies.”
“We also appreciate and applaud the wonderful staff at UAB Hospital,’’ Williams said. “Under the circumstances, we can get a bit of relief knowing he has come through such a rough struggle and is able to make it home with his family.”
The officer’s family released a statement to AL.com Tuesday afternoon. Here is that statement in full:
“Thank you to the media for respecting our privacy and allowing us to focus on the health and recovery of our loved one. We have been so overwhelmed with the love, support, and most of all, the prayers for him. We wanted to release this statement to thank those who have played a part in his treatment and recovery thus far.
Thank you to his fellow officers on the scene for tending to him; to Birmingham Fire and Rescue for their quick response, treatment, and transport; to the trauma doctors, nurses, and support personnel at UAB Emergency Department for accessing and stabilizing his injuries; to his trauma team and surgeon for his treatment and care; to the nurses and support staff in the TBICU and ATCU for the excellent care he received; to Mayor Randall Woodfin and his staff for their tremendous support; to Chief Patrick Smith and the entire Birmingham Police Department, with a special thanks to Captain James Jackson and the North Precinct, for their outpouring of love, support, and for meeting so many of our needs; to our family, friends, church, and community that have loved and supported us in so many ways during this time; to the hundreds who have prayed for our loved one and this family – we have felt the prayers and are genuinely grateful for each and every one of them. And a special thank you to Sergeant Carter’s family for allowing our loved one the special opportunity to be able to pay his respects and honor Sergeant Carter. Our heartfelt prayers for them continue as they go through this extremely difficult time.
We are so thankful that our loved one has been released from the hospital and will continue his recovery at home and through outpatient therapy. We greatly appreciate your continued prayers and respect for our privacy.”
Carter, 44, was killed early Jan. 13, when he and others were working a special detail targeting car break-ins in downtown Birmingham. The shooting happened about 2 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 13, when the unnamed undercover officer spotted at least two suspects who appeared to be trying door handles to see if they were locked in the 900 block of Fifth Avenue North outside the 4 Seasons Bar and Grill. The officer called for backup, and the sergeant arrived.
The officer and the sergeant approached two suspects. “What I can tell you is it appears our officers were unable to respond,” Birmingham police Chief Patrick Smith previously said. “They were taken completely by surprise.”
Another officer returned fire and struck the suspect who was seriously injured.
Carter, the second officer – who has been on the force just under two years – and a suspect were rushed to UAB Hospital’s Trauma Center by Birmingham Fire and Rescue Service. “Both of them were shot in very critical areas,” the chief said of the officers.
Carter, shot in the head, was pronounced dead at the hospital. The other officer was initially critical.
The hospitalized suspect is 31 years old and reportedly paralyzed. Authorities have not officially released his name or condition. The second suspect, an 18-year-old who was handcuffed, at the scene, was released from the Jefferson County Jail Monday night without being charged with any crime.
Investigators continue their search for one more possible suspect. The probe is ongoing by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s State Bureau of Investigation and any charges brought against a suspect or suspects are expected to be filed by SBI, not Birmingham police.
Thousands showed up Saturday for Carter’s funeral. “The tragic passing of Sergeant Carter has been an absolutely heartbreaking, senseless loss of life. This week has been like a bad dream for this department and his family as we mourn the loss of a brother officer,” Smith told AL.com. “Both of our officers were doing what they love to do, trying to make a difference in the community.”
“Wytasha Carter was more than an officer. He was a family man, with a wife, kids, a mother and father and a host of other family and friends. He had a passion for helping others especially the youth, having been both as a former school resource officer and a youth minister. He always reached out to other officers, to provide advice and trying to point them in the right direction,” Smith said. “Carter was passionate about his job. Always trying to do more. The day before his passing, he was involved in the arrest of seven car burglars in one night. This is an amazing statistic and the reason he worked this type of detail. He wanted to make a difference. He wanted to show others what needed to be done to keep the community safe.”
The chief said the Birmingham community and the law enforcement community have been “incredible.”
“The overwhelming support for our officers and the police department has been awesome. As Chief of Police, I cannot say thank you enough to the community,” he said. “Healing is what we need right now more than anything. We will lean heavily on each other and the many who support us.”
“Both officers have wonderful family support systems,” he said. “The prayers of this department are with both families and we intend to stay by their side. Our officer (wounded) has shown strong signs of recovery but he does have a long road ahead. “
“The message I have for the community is Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. Your support has been amazing,” Smith said. “We appreciate you all and we couldn’t have made it this far without all of you. We are thankful and uplifted everyday by the kind words and helpful hand of others.”
©2019 Alabama Media Group, Birmingham