Local state trooper awarded for saving a life
Man saved after taser, gun shots, pursuit, medical training
On April 13, two State Highway Patrol troopers, Travis L. Coffey, and Cpl. Joel E. Givens of Troop D, were awarded for their life saving actions following a shooting.
Givens said Sept. 22, 2018, started off like any other night, and he didn’t expect the events that came to pass.
“When we got the call about the suspect, we understood he was wanted in questioning for a shooting incident in Springfield, and he was known to be armed,” he said. “We were trying to make what is called a quick response force with a staging area to get him apprehended before he could get into his car.”
Givens said that obviously didn’t work, and he and Coffey got into a pursuit after an attempted traffic stop.
“Once the pursuit got up to Aurora, that department set out spike strips to disable his vehicle,” he said. “He continued up to Marionville where he tried to carjack people.”
Givens said the subject stopped next to a white SUV and exited the vehicle.
“I was behind him toward his driver’s side door,” he said. “There were still two women in the white SUV in front of me.”
Givens said he knew then he was limited on his use of force options.
“We had recently been issued the tasers,” he said. “The subject then climbed onto the hood, and I deployed my taser.”
Givens said immediately after he deployed his taser, he heard gun shots being fired from the officers on the other side.
“The subject rolled off the hood of the car and into the ditch,” he said. “We were giving him commands to roll over on his belly, and he actually stopped us and said, ‘Guys, you just shot me, you are going to have to roll me over.’”
Givens said once the suspect was handcuffed, the training just took over and they started first aid.
“I didn’t do anything that another officer wouldn’t have,” he said. “I got extensive medical training through departments I have worked for, and everything that I did I learned from good men I have worked with.”
Givens said the subject was bleeding from his inner left leg, inner right leg, a stomach wound, chest wound and a shoulder wound.
“My brain didn’t know what my hands were doing,” he sad. “I went straight for my med kit and Coffey and I applied tourniquets to both his legs. The stomach wound we couldn’t do a whole lot for right there, but the chest wound could cause his lung to collapse.”
Givens said they put a chest seal on him to keep the lung from collapsing.
“Coffey worked on his left shoulder wound,” he said. “He applied quick clot and packing gauze.”
Givens said the whole time, the subject was complaining that he was thirsty.
“I told him he was thirsty because he was bleeding out and he needed to stay still so we could work on him,” he said. “The subject said, ‘I can’t believe you are going to let me die thirsty.’”
Givens said he and Coffey worked together and got the subject patched up.
“At some point, I had asked someone close by to just check me while I was working to see if I had been shot,” he said. “I was in the line of fire. The taser has five second cycle, so I tased him, they shot him, and when it was all done, I still had about two seconds left in the taser cycle.”
Givens said it all happened very fast, and he thankfully stepped off to the side and dropped down to avoid being hit.
“I don’t know what it means to me,” he said. “We just did what we had to do, what we were trained for and saved someone.”
Givens said the subject was shot a total of nine times.
“With the quick field assessment on the scene, we saw the really bad bleeders in the left leg and shoulder,” he said. “We also immediately assessed the stomach and chest wounds.”
Givens said the only reason he knows what to look for is because of the people who he has worked with and trained him.
“I was involved in a shooting once before,” he said. “A wife was shot and she actually locked herself in the bathroom and made a tourniquet herself out of bed sheets.”
Givens said he has been an officer for going on 14 years and has worked in many different areas.
“I got into this business because I wanted to help out my communities and state,” he said. “I wanted to make a difference, and I love people. Sometimes it is hard being the enforcer, but most people are good.”
Givens said he believes that most of the issues he comes across are people just having a bad day.
“Some people have messed up,” he said. “That doesn’t mean they are a mess up, just that they had a hard moment.”
Givens said it is not just him who should have received the award, but also the people who have trained him.
Coffey said he was given information by county deputies that there was a felon in the area.
“I located the vehicle, and after an attempted stop a chase issued,” he said. “He at one point let out a passenger, and Corporal Givens took over the pursuit as I took custody of the passenger.”
Coffey said he relinquished custody to another officer and returned to the chase.
“By the time I caught up to it, it was east of Marionville,” he said. “I pulled up just as the subject had come to a stop.”
Coffey said the subject jumped out of the window and onto another car,” he said. “He displayed a handgun and was shot.”
Coffey said the subject fell off the hood of the car, and he thought Corporal Givens had been shot so he checked on him first.
“I noticed the subject was down in between two cars and he was bleeding badly,” he said. “We applied tourniquets and pressure, then checked him over for additional bullet holes. We applied a chest seal and kept him alive.”
Coffey said the subject asked them to tell his children goodbye.
“We told him he would have to do that himself,” he said. “We kept him alive, and he was able to recover in the hospital and is now currently in prison.”
Coffey said the reason he signed up for his job is to protect life and keep others from being hurt.
“It is rewarding knowing that the training that the patrol provides is something we can lean on and works,” he said. “The training I received through this agency helped save a man’s life.”
Coffey said saving life is an amazing thing to do.
“It is not every day that you get to do that,” he said. “As law enforcement, we try to save lives all the time, and it fails a lot. Given the situation to save a life, I will forever be excited about that.”
Coffey said he hasn’t been involved in a shooting before.
“I’ve been in a car crash situation and tried to save a life,” he said. “One shooting event is absolutely more than enough.”