Floyd Co. deputy speaks about amputation, mental health after shooting

Deputy speaks about amputation, mental health after shooting
Published: Nov. 29, 2022 at 12:27 PM EST
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FLOYD COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) - It’s been nearly five months, since an ambush-style shooting claimed the lives of three law enforcement officers and a K-9, along with wounding several others.

Floyd County Deputy Darrin Lawson was one of the men injured, getting shot in the leg - just below the knee.

For more than four months, he was in a never ending cycle of surgeries.

“We couldn’t get a definite answer of a timeframe, and if I’m actually going to be functionable enough to go back to work,” said Lawson. “I was missing I think four and a half to five centimeters of bone. The the only thing holding it together was that big metal contraption.”

After 11 surgeries, Lawson made the decision to amputate his leg below his knee. He says if it was above the knee, he would have tried to save his leg.

“The doctor’s thought it would kind of make it worse mentally if I took it off, but it’s actually been the complete opposite. I’m in a much better place now that it’s gone, and I don’t have to see it everyday.”

He said he read countless articles about injuries similar to his, and talked to others who had gone through with an amputation including an army veteran.

“He’s hiking mountains and going to Colorado and doing all these things and running marathons and you’re just like if he can do it why can’t I do it,” Lawson said.

Doctors hoped to keep fighting to save his leg, but Lawson says missing big moments in his 3-year-old daughter’s life, made the choice easier.

“I actually missed her birthday. We had a bunch inflatables brought and put up out back, and I couldn’t even go outside so that day pretty much sealed the deal that it was coming off,” he said.

Lawson is facing new challenges after the amputation like phantom limb pain.

“Right now, I’m sitting here and my toes are hurting but they’re not there. It’s really odd,” he said. “When that starts I’ll look at it trying to tell my brain there’s no way it hurts there.”

On Dec. 8, doctors hope to take out the stitches and then he’ll start the process of being fitted for a prosthetic.

Lawson hopes to be walking by spring.

“I can’t wait. I think about it everyday. Just being able to walk to the bathroom normal or do anything normal walk through the kitchen normal. I can’t wait to drive. I haven’t drove since June 30th,” Lawson said.

He said he’s already planning a hiking trip with the boys.

“As soon as they give me the green light that I can walk and walk up an incline anything like that I’m going hiking I have to get out,” he said. “Me and some buddies are going to pack up and hit the Appalachian trail for a few days.”

Along with the physical pain Lawson faces, the emotions from the night of June 30 have taken a toll on him. He says he spent months bottling everything up.

“You can’t ignore it, because if you do it will gut you and I ignored it for a long time,” Lawson said. “I’m glad that I finally made the decision to start therapy. I was probably in a bad spot before then.”

He says he began therapy about seven weeks ago and he’s seeing a big change in himself.

“I’m not as angry. I’m angry talking to you while I’m sitting here, but he’s been able to help a lot to calm me down,” Lawson said.

Lawson also relies on his brothers in blue who were on scene of the tragedy, getting through each day together.

“Everyone has listened to what I had to say, and they’re always going to be there especially Dusty and Chris who were on scene that day when it first started,” he said. “They need taken care of just as much as I do. They went through it too it wasn’t just me. Being able to talk to them knowing they’re still here has been a peace of mind.”

Lawson says his goal is to one day go back to work as a deputy, but that will not be until he feels comfortable on his prosthetic and is able to run again.

Lawson says there is no way to to move on from that day, but as a community they have to keep the faith and continue one day at a time.

“The only thing you can do is think about them and make sure the boys are honored and never forgotten, cause stuff like this is never going to go away. That scar on Floyd County is always going to be there. The scar on me is always going to be here it’s never going to go away. You just have to do what they’d want you to do which is move on the best we can get by the best we can and that’s what I’m going to do and I’m sure most of Floyd County is going to do the same,” Lawson said.