VIDEO: Paralyzed Officer Stands For National Anthem For First Time In 14 Years
Peoria, AZ – A Peoria police investigator who was shot and paralyzed in the line of duty 14 years ago was able to stand to present the American Flag during the Special Olympics Arizona opening ceremonies for the first time, thanks to his new high-tech wheelchair (video below).
“I'd been wanting to stand for the national anthem for 14 years," Peoria Police Investigator William “Bill” Weigt told Today. “I was a little overwhelmed at first, but it was so exciting.”
Investigator Weigt, a former U.S. infantry soldier, was one of several Peoria police officers who responded to a report of a shooting at approximately 4:30 a.m. on Dec. 17, 2005, the Peoria Police Department (PPD) said in 2017.
The gunman fled the area in a vehicle, then led officers on a brief pursuit when they spotted him.
At one point, the suspect stopped in the middle of the street and opened fire on the pursuing officers, the PPD said.
One of the rounds hit Investigator Weigt just above his ballistic vest, resulting in severe damage to his spinal cord, WTHR reported.
The gunman was killed during the shootout.
Despite the severity of his wounds and the permanent paralysis caused by the bullet, Investigator Weigt returned to duty in less than a year, the PPD said.
“Today, he continues his service to the Peoria Police Department and the citizens of Peoria in our criminal investigations division,” according to his department. “We are very thankful that Bill is still with us. Today, and every day, we honor [his] commitment and dedication to the citizens of Peoria.”
The PPD shared a photo and video footage of Investigator Weigt and his fellow Honor Guard members as they participated in the Special Olympics Arizona opening ceremonies on Oct. 25.
When the ceremony was over, the investigator was surrounded by the Olympians, who gave him hugs and posed for photos, Today reported.
His nephew, Andrew, was among them.
“That was probably the most special thing,” Investigator Weigt told Today.
When he got into his car to leave later that night, he became emotional while reflecting on the totality of everything that had just occurred, he explained.
Investigator Weigt said he is especially grateful that others with disabilities view him as an inspiration.
He is also thankful for his Permobil F5 motorized chair, which allows him to lay, stand or sit.
"I had lot of spasms and pain," the investigator told Today. "Being able to change positions helps with that. I feel good."
He called his new chair a “blessing.”
"Of course, I would like to go and get my body back, but I can't, so I make the best of what I've got," Investigator Weigt said. "And I have a really great life.”
You can watch footage of Investigator Weigt and his fellow Honor Guard members in the video below: