LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — More than 10 months after a Lafayette police officer was shot on the job, she is back serving the community.
Officer Lane Butler returned to LPD full-time last week. It's been a long journey to get her here, but she said it wouldn't have happened without her fellow officers and the community.
X-Ray shows Officer Butler's collapsed lung, and where the bullet stopped inside. Provided: Lane Butler
Provided: Lane Butler
"My ultimate goal, from Jan. 8 on, was to come back to patrol, to come back to being an officer and go back to the job I wanted to do from day one," said Butler in an interview with News 18 Monday. "It's something every officer knows in the back of their mind. A regular call we go on every single day can turn bad very quickly, and that's what this call really showed to me.
On Jan. 8, 2019, three officers were called to a home in the 800 block of N. 9th Street to serve a warrant. A large dog was caged inside and when it got out, Officer Aaron Wright's gun went off. The bullet hit Officer Butler in the back left shoulder.
"At first, it felt like I had gotten tazed," said Butler. "We get tazed at the beginning of our careers, and that's what it felt like. Then, the pain started to set in. It is intense."
The bullet entered under her shoulder blade, shattered her third thoracic vertebra, shattered a rib, collapsed a lung and stopped inside the lung. She also broke bones in her left arm when she fell.
"The bullet kind of bounced around a little bit," said Butler. "I was in a brace for 16 weeks and literally couldn't move anything from the top of my head to my waist."
In the days after, LPD conducted a review board and released body camera footage that concluded the shooting was not the result of negligence.
Click to watch Officer Kurt Sinks body camera video (This video is graphic)
Police said Wright was reaching for a cage door with the angry dog in it. Police said Wright was trying to stop the dog. That's when Chief Patrick Flannelly said the firearm "twisted in his hand," and discharged upon hitting an open door, striking Officer Butler.
"I totally support what they did, telling the public what happened and being honest about it, but showing the support for myself and Officer Wright," said Butler.
That was more than 10 months ago. Did she think it would take this long to get back?
"Absolutely not," said Butler. "When I got out of the hospital, I was expecting to be back on the street in June."
Her date of return kept getting pushed back. She has a six-inch plate, six screws and even the original bullet all inside her. Despite it all, she says there really isn't much she would have changed about that day.
"I certainly didn't want to get shot, but shy of that, no," said Butler when asked if she hoped anything would have gone different. "It ended badly, but it was the best of a bad situation. I'm still here. I'm still walking. I'm still doing my job. I'm able to get back to a normal life. So at the end of the day, the day ended well."
Butler said she is still in a lot of pain. She said doctors aren't sure if that will be temporary, or last the rest of her life. However, Monday was her final doctor's appointment.
More than 10 months after being shot on the job, @LafayetteINPD Officer Lane Butler returns full-time to the department.
— Trevor Peters (@TrevorPetersTV) November 25, 2019