It happened in January of 1994. Dallas Police Detective, David Rodriguez, was executing a narcotics search warrant in Northwest Dallas when “all helter-skelter broke loose.” Detective Rodriguez entered an apartment to the spray of bullets, taking a round in the neck, which penetrated his spine and paralyzed him from the waist down.
“I did all I could do to work my way back onto assignment, but my legs just wouldn’t respond,” he said. “I was forced to retire in 1997.”
Bound to a wheelchair, but far from finished serving the force, Detective Rodriguez began working with the Dallas Police Association, taking calls from officers struggling with job-related stress.
“Many officers were in dire straits emotionally and financially due to job-related incidents. So in 1997, a few of my associates and I got together and co-created the ATO foundation,” Detective Rodriguez said. “I became the organization’s poster boy.”
Since then, the ATO has grown to serve hundreds of Dallas Police Department members, supported by donations from officers, well-wishers and friends.
In addition to his current duties with the ATO, Detective Rodriguez also volunteers at Walnut Hill Elementary School as a math and English tutor for third and fourth graders. He has two daughters from a previous marriage, Nicole and Aimee, who are grown and have provided him with two grand daughters, Jessica, 21, and Briauna, 8.
Detective Rodriguez was recently recognized for his heroics in thwarting a 2008 robbery at a Jack-in-the-Box on South Hampton Road. “Once you are a cop,” he said, “those skills, those instincts, just never leave you.”
Donations can be made in David Rodriquez's name through the Assist the Officer Foundation by clicking here, or by calling 214-747-6839.