Paralyzed officer honored at Thunder game

Chad Peery, an off-duty Oklahoma City police officer, was asked to escort three men from a bar in Oklahoma City. The three men beat him, broke his neck and left him paralyzed.

That was two years ago. Peery probably would never walk again, doctors said, and feeding himself was going to be real challenge too.

But Peery returned to work with the Oklahoma City Police Department. He investigates cyber crimes now, spending his days behind a computer. His fingers don’t move well, so he types with the side of his hand.

“This is what I wanted to do since I was little,” he told the Oklahoma City Thunder Web site. “I may not be out on the street or in the car but I’m still actively pursuing crime and helping in a different manner.”

Peery’s story has gotten a lot of media coverage in Oklahoma City. The trial of the attackers was covered extensively. One of them, Cadmio Lopez, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for pleading guilty to assault and battery with force likely to cause death. Joshua Rinken and Jimmy Smith both got 10 years in prison and 10 years probation for assault and battery.

Deery’s story inspired the community. The first place he went when he began inpatient rehabilitation was a Thunder game, where he was recognized on the floor.

He was back again Wednesday, only this time something was different. He wheeled himself out onto the floor as usual, and the applause thundered down on him. And then Chad Peery stood up, grabbed the handles of a walker and took several steps across the floor at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

In the crowd, noses ran and chests shook and women squeegeed tears off their faces.

“It’s been from day one taking little steps,” he said. “Setting small goals. My first goal was I wanted to be able to hug my kids.”

He can do that now. With a little aid, he can walk again. He goes to work. He fights crime. He serves and protects.

“The biggest hero aspect of all of this is how Chad has handled this adversity,” Oklahoma City police chief Bill Citty told the Thunder site. “And really the example he’s set for all of us.”