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Sergeant Ira Essoe dies 30 years after being shot in line of duty

By KJ Mullins     Mar 23, 2010 in Crime
On November 6, 1980 Sergeant Ira Essoe broke up an attempted car theft in Orange County, California when a bullet took him down. He passed away from that bullet on February 4, 2010.
For thirty years Sergeant Essoe was paralyzed from the bullet that fateful day when he and investigator Greg "Mike" Brown drove to the Mall of Orange. The two were planning on collecting bail on a warrant as they looked for a place to park their unmarked car. Wearing plain clothes they spied three men in the process of stealing a black 1968 Mustang.
The two cops had no idea right then that they were looking at three men who had extensive rap sheets. The men, Robert Dustin Strong, 25, David Michael Knick, 23 and David Ray Vogel, 34 had already spent time in prison. Now they needed a getaway car for the robbery they were planning at a local grocery.
The two cops got out of their car and approached the Mustang. Brown was disarmed by one of the men who forced him to the ground with threats of murder. Essoe tried to save his life, pulling out his gun.
The sound of gunfire blazed as all three of the criminals fired on Essoe at the same time. All of the bullets just missed him, except for one.
One bullet hit, under his arm escaping through Essoe's chest. Another bullet hit. That bullet, shattering his ribs, going through his left lung, destroying two of of vertebrae put him in a wheelchair as it severed his spinal cord.
Strong and Knick were caught an hour after they took off in Essoe's car when they crashed during a high-speed pursuit on the freeway. Vogel ran off from the scene. He was busted later when he was linked to the crime while in prison for a bank robbery.
Brown wasn't injured.
Essoe, rushed to hospital in critical condition, would never have feeling below his chest again.
The Orange County Register reports that Essoe's death is the first California peace officer to die in the line of duty this year. Since 1912 nine other Orange County Sheriff's Department deputies have died serving their community.
On February 4 Essoe's body finally gave out, sepsis won, a delayed complication from the bullet that took away his legs in 1980.
He is survived by his wife and three children, all of whom followed their father's legacy and serve their community as cops.
Son Ira Essoe, a sergeant with the sheriff department's contract city of San Juan Capistrano spoke lovingly of his father.
"He had to be in such pain, but he never showed it. Being a cop was the one thing that made him happy," Essoe says. "Ultimately, the way he looked at it, he was still alive. He still had his family.
"His attitude was, 'I can choose to be miserable, or I can choose to be happy'."
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