DAVENPORT, Iowa (Quad-City Times) — The sensation of a hot poker going through his leg told Davenport Police Sgt. Scott Lansing he’d been hit.
It wasn’t until he got to the emergency room and began to undress that he realized how close he’d come to taking more than one bullet.
“I was handing over my holster and gun, and they saw my holster,” Lansing said. “The bullet hit the holster, then the metal slide on my Glock (handgun). I didn’t know I got hit there.
“My gun potentially saved my life. When they don’t need it (the weapon) for evidence, I’ll probably put it in a shadow box.
“Luckily, I didn’t even get a bruise there. The gun stopped it.”
There were more surprises.
The scene of the crime
The early morning of June 1 was like no other in Davenport.
Violent rioters unleashed themselves on the streets, seemingly empowered by the anti-police brutality movement that erupted days earlier over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
The night of May 31 brought mayhem that graduated to chaos as the night wore on.
“I got a text or two from guys already working, saying it was getting a little dicey, a little hectic,” Lansing said. “Everyone got called in that evening.
“I got in about 10 p.m., and Lt. (Greg) Behning and I made assignments.”
Then, they hit the streets.
Lansing, 43, drove his police-issue Ford F-150 with Behning in the front passenger seat and Detective Pat Sievert in a back seat of the cab. There was no shortage of calls to handle, and they were on the lookout for suspects who’d been doing burglaries, thefts, even shootings.
At about 3 a.m., the trio spotted a vehicle turning into the alley between 14th and 15th streets, near Myrtle Street. Lansing followed.
That’s when all hell broke loose.
‘Taking on a lot of rounds’
In an ambush, you don’t see it coming.
As bullets struck the truck, Lansing ducked his body low and hit the gas. The bullet-riddled F-150 lagged at first, then responded.
“I knew immediately I’d been hit. It felt like a hot poker through my leg,” Lansing said. “I felt and heard rounds hitting the vehicle. I knew we were taking on a lot of rounds.
“I remember glass shattering everywhere. Three of the four windows in the cab blew out, and there was a bullet hole in the windshield.
“Even my rear-view mirror was shot out. I remember pretty much everything.”
But the three officers still were in danger. They didn’t know where the heavily-armed shooters from the alley had gone.
“We got to Warren Street, just shy of Locust,” Lansing said. “Behning was trying to get radio information out. Pat (Sievert) got a tourniquet on my leg pretty quickly.
“They were trying to check for other injuries. The adrenaline kicks in; You just don’t know.”
When members of the SWAT team got to the trio, one of the firefighter/medics jumped out and helped assess Lansing’s injuries. Having worked about 12 of his nearly 20 years with the Davenport Police Department on the SWAT unit, he knew he was in good hands.
Firefighter Lt. Amy Priest from SWAT got in the back of the truck and elevated his leg as another officer got into the driver’s seat and headed for the emergency room.
“Not knowing the location of the shooters, we had to self-evacuate,” Lansing said.
They rushed to the hospital.
Realizing the danger
When Lansing got a look at his truck in the ambulance bay at Genesis East, he got the picture.
At least four bullets were fired into the driver’s door, where he was sitting. At least two bullets tore through his head rest. Fortunately, he ducked down toward the floor of the truck when the first shots were fired.
“When things slow down, your mind starts processing,” he said. “Seeing all the holes in my truck was the eye-opening moment. It’s when I realized I got really lucky.”
While his gun and holster stopped one bullet, the metal frame of the truck’s door stopped another — just below the driver’s window.
“That would have been a really bad hit too,” he said. “I had my left hand on the wheel, so it probably would have gone into my arm pit and my chest.”
Asked whether it was difficult for his wife to see the evidence photos of all the bullet holes, especially so close to his head, Lansing said, “She’s been a rock through this whole thing. I know it sounds cliche, but she knew what could happen with our job.
“She’s been helpful and supportive but more than that. She’s been there for me and our family from the beginning, and she’s here today. She’s taking on my responsibilities at home while helping take care of me.”
The Lansings together have focused on healing.
A bullet that entered the lower panel of the truck door did not miss Lansing. It struck his left leg above the ankle and below the calf, shattering his fibula before making its exit wound. Within about two hours of arriving at the hospital, he said, he was taken into surgery to have the wound cleaned.
Doctors gave the leg time to heal, hoping the bone would regrow. It didn’t.
He returned to the police department on a light-duty assignment in late July, using a knee scooter to get around. He tried physical therapy and was able to ditch the scooter, though he walked with a limp.
Another medical intervention was necessary.
More surgery and returning to police work
On Dec. 21, Lansing went to University Hospitals & Clinics in Iowa City to have another surgery on his damaged leg.
A piece of bone from his upper leg, the tibia, was used for a graft and a plate and eight screws were installed to strengthen the leg.
“One of the biggest issues has been nerve damage,” he said. “It’s slowly getting better. For the first month or two, it was pretty miserable.”
He’s supposed to be non-weight-bearing until about mid-February.
“I’d like to get back to light duty by the end of February,” Lansing said. “I think I’ll be 100 percent by late summer. I have every intention of getting back to full duty. That’s why I put myself through that last surgery: I love my job.
“One thing that has helped me is the support of my co-workers, the community and, of course, my family and friends. The amount of support has been amazing. It has helped me.”
He now wants to get back to helping others, beginning a return to coaching his son’s baseball and football teams. He plans to wear the whistle for football practice in the fall.
“I’ve got stuff to do. I can’t dwell on what could’ve happened,” he said. “Our training — the training Greg, Pat and I received over the years — definitely helped us that night.
“With some divine intervention and luck, I think that’s how we survived.”
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