During the Nov. 18 Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) meeting in Panama City Beach, an officer, whose courage, training and perserverance saved his own life, received the agency’s Purple Heart and Award of Valor for his actions in the line of duty.
On Aug. 7, Officer David Brady responded to reports of a disturbance on a sailboat in St. Andrew’s Pass in northwest Florida. After Brady made contact with the vessel and asked for identification, the encounter took a potentially deadly turn. One of the men entered the cabin of the sailboat, emerged armed with a handgun and began firing at Brady. Brady returned fire and jumped overboard in full gear, surfaced behind the engines of his patrol boat and returned fire again.
Brady then had to escape repeated attempts at being run over by the patrol boat, which the two men took control of while he was in the water. During the shootout, the officer was hit twice.
After the two men left the area in the stolen patrol boat, Brady flagged down a Coast Guard vessel, which took him to an area hospital. He was treated for gunshot wounds and released. He was wearing his bulletproof vest, which stopped one of the shots that struck his side. The other bullet punctured his lifevest and grazed his collarbone.
“Officer Brady’s courage and tenacity can’t be denied. We are so thankful that he survived this vicious attack. He is a shining example of the character and conviction that is shared by all of our FWC family,” said FWC Executive Director Nick Wiley. “His quick reactions to this deadly situation saved his life.”
A coordinated law enforcement response resulted in the capture and arrest of the two men approximately two hours after the incident.
“The outpouring of support from the public and the law enforcement community that Officer Brady and the FWC have received has just been staggering,” said Col. Curtis Brown, director of the FWC’s Law Enforcement Division. “We’re grateful for the thoughts and prayers and, most of all, the fact that David is back on patrol. We are extremely proud of him, and these awards are well-deserved.”
“I want to thank the Commission for this honor and everyone for their support after the incident,” said Brady, whose family also attended the meeting. “My wife and I can’t tell you how much it’s meant to our family. I just did what I was trained to do, and I’m happy that I got to go home at the end.”