EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSState Trooper Opens Up About Being Seriously Hurt Trying To Stop A Shoplifter; Suspect Pleads Guilty
from Eyewitness News Online
Reported by: Leslie Rubin
Videographer: Matt Durrett
Web Producer: Leslie Rubin
Reported: Oct. 28, 2013 9:55 AM EDT
Updated: Oct. 28, 2013 8:17 PM EDT
Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
A state trooper seriously hurt trying to stop a suspected shoplifter opens up for the first time about the night that changed his life, as the suspect pleads guilty in court.
Sgt. Aaron Nichols was off duty when he noticed a woman shoplifting on New Years Eve of last year, and even though he suffered near fatal injuries trying to stop her, he says he would have still upheld his duty to protect the public.
Jennifer Garretson pleaded guilty to malicious wounding on Monday.
"It crippled my family, it crippled my friends," Nichols said after the plea hearing on Monday. It's hard for Sgt. Nichols to think about how much his life has changed over the last ten months.
"I'm still having to adjust to some of the issues I'm still having as a result of what happened," he said.
Witnesses said they could hear Nichols identify himself as a police officer, trying to get Garretson to stop. But not before she made it to her car, jumped in and nearly ran him over. Witnesses said Nichols jumped onto the trunk of the car, to avoid being hit, but she drove in a circle, throwing him off.
Nichols was in the hospital for 22 days following the incident. Some of those days, doctors were unsure if he'd survive.
"My family has been by my side the whole time. They've kept with me, kept supporting me, kept on me at times to keep me in the right direction," he said.
Despite having to recover from five fractures on his skull, a broken wrist, bleeding on the brain, loosing his sense of taste and smell, and 60% of the hearing in his left ear, he says he still would have done his duty.
"I don't regret what I did that night. I don't know if I would ever let that go again," he said.
Nichols says he looks forward to returning to full duty with the state police. His next doctor's appointment is in December, when he will learn more about when he can fully return to work.
Garretson faces to two to ten years in prison when she is sentenced in December. She is already serving time for a parole violation.
A woman has pleaded guilty to malicious wounding in connection with an incident in which she hit an off-duty state trooper with her car while she was fleeing the scene after shoplifting.
Jennifer Garretson pleaded guilty to the charge on Monday in Kanawha County Circuit Court.
Troopers said Garretson was shoplifiting from Goody's at the St. Albans Mall on Dec. 31, 2012, when Sgt. Aaron Nichols, an off-duty state trooper, tried to intervene.
Witnesses said they could hear Nichols identify himself as a police officer, trying to get her to stop. But not before she made it to her car, jumped in and nearly ran him over. Witnesses said Nichols jumped onto the trunk of the car, to avoid being hit, but she allegedly drove in a circle, throwing him off.
The Associated Press reported that Garretson faces up to 10 years in prison when she is sentenced Dec. 9.
The AP contributed to this story.
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