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Crimewatch: Officers involved in deadly shootings speak out

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Two Austin police officers, who were involved in three fatal shootings, speak for the first time about those critical incidents.

One was stabbed in the neck and the other was shot at and had an AR 15 pointed right at him.

We start with Senior Patrol Officer, Frank Wilson.

The scar on Wilson's neck isn't as long as the actual cut. Some of it has healed since he was stabbed two days before Christmas in 2010.

It was his own knife that went an inch and a half into his neck starting under his ear, extending several inches along his neck to his throat. The injury cut a branch of Wilson's carotid artery. Any closer would have been fatal.

"He wanted to fight and go the lengths of where he would try to take an officer's life to get away."

What led to Officer Wilson's injury can be seen on his in car dash cam video.

He was training another officer when a car ran a stop sign right in front of them. Wilson tried to pull the driver over. After a short drive through a Northwest Austin neighborhood, the driver stopped and ran off. Wilson went after him.

"At one point he got so close to my vehicle, that I thought to myself, I can catch this guy," Wilson said.

At the time, Wilson didn't know the suspect was Maurice Pierce, a man once linked to the Yogurt Shop Murders of four teenage girls in 1991.

Pierce led Wilson through several backyards and homes. The chase stopped twice. The first time, Pierce charged at Wilson, starting a fight. The second time also sparked a physical altercation that would eventually turn deadly.

"My gun belt started shaking. That's an odd thing so I'm thinking immediately he's trying to get my gun. So I quit punching and clamped down with my elbow over my gun and just trying to make sure I retain that," Wilson said.

What Wilson didn't realize was Pierce somehow got a hold of his personal knife from his inner support belt, not duty belt.

"From there I guess he stabbed me in the side of the neck," said Wilson. "I felt a wet sensation at first, I've got a lot of adrenaline going, he's a pretty desperate guy, I have to match his level of intensity."

Wilson says he clamped his neck down and felt a strange sensation.

"It's kind of like a jagged, almost felt like tearing. It'd be like someone pinching your neck and tearing at it," he said.

At this point, Wilson says there was no other option. He knew Pierce was trying to kill him.

"So I drew my gun and put it next to his stomach and shot it," he said. "After I shot, we were disconnected, like he had scooted up and I was on all fours and saw where he was and from there I saw him make his way to his feet."

Pierce took off. Wilson called for help.

"My hand filled up with blood," Wilson said.

Wilson says he never panicked and wasn't scared at any point.

The 38-year-old was taken to a Round Rock hospital for surgery.

Police found Pierce's body between two cars, just a house away.

Wilson says he did what he had to but still felt bad for taking a life.

"Not bad in the sense I did something wrong but bad in the idea that I'm Christian, is it ok? Even though he may have been a bad guy, he was still one of God's children. The fact that I had a hand in taking his life had a great impact on me," Wilson said.

Wilson worked through religious issues with his pastor. Beyond that, he says the shooting didn't affect him much. His family was a different story.

"My wife didn't take it so well. Yeah, that wasn't. And even for a year after, she was dealing with it," he said.

Wilson says she took it much harder than he did.

"My older daughter, she was able to comprehend a little bit," he said. "She thinks I'm invincible and the fact that somebody was able to hurt me must have been a pretty bad dude, you know, that's what she was thinking, who was this guy that he was able to hurt my dad? It took quite a bit of time to take it all in and me to reassure her over and over, its ok, I'm not going anywhere."

Wilson went back to work after just three weeks.

The nearly eight year veteran is back to training and back on the streets.

The second Austin police officer was involved in two deadly shootings, a rare occurrence in law enforcement.

The incident happened on November 2, 2010.

A body mic captured Will Ray's commands after firing four shots at Howard Huynh.

"I heard a noise and turned around saw the suspect holding an AR 15 style rifle raised, pointed at me."

Before the deadly confrontation, 26-year-old Huynh killed a man, shot a woman in the stomach, shot at another woman, and fired at police officers.

It all happened after authorities responded to a 911 call at 12320 Tomanet Trail in Northwest Austin.

Ray would have likely been Huynh's next target. There was a live round in the suspect's weapon.

But Ray didn't respond to the home.

He and two others were working the perimeter and walked through a Jaguar dealership. Ray says he was walking through the parking lot when he heard a sound.

"He made a loud enough noise to get my attention," Ray said. "I raised my shotgun and took four shots and the suspect fell down against the car and then fell down to the ground."

Even though Ray shot and killed Huynh, he says he did make one mistake.

"I didn't notice him as I walked past him so it was kind of, it was a mistake on my part to not be aware as I could have been to not notice that guy," Ray said. "I can rationalize that I didn't make a terrible mistake but I basically walked past the guy so that was sort of frustrating and difficult to think about that he could have."

Many in the department don't call it that. Instead, they call Ray a hero.

To understand why, we have to tell you about his first deadly shooting. In November of 2008, then 23-year-old Ray, a rookie officer, responded to 911 calls of a disturbance with a gun and shots fired in the 7600 block of Blessing Ave in Northeast Austin.

A group of five men had just robbed an illegal card game where two men were shot. The suspects were on the run. Police chased the suspect's truck. It later crashed at the intersection of Berkman Drive and Patton Lane. All the suspects got out and took off.

Ray eventually caught up with one of them, Adan Mondragon, who was wearing body armor. He also had an AK 47 assault rifle.

"As he was running, turned over his shoulder and fired the rifle and I instinctively raised my weapon and fired two shots at him. And then he continued running, and I stopped and brought my weapon up and aimed down my sights like I have been trained. As I saw him running, I fired one shot, he fired a second shot and I fired my last shot and he fell down and dropped the weapon," Ray said.

Mondragon died at the scene. The bullet proof vest he had on didn't help.

"I guess the way he was turned the bullet traveled across his body," Ray said.

Ray has now been with APD for four and a half years. Two deadly critical incidents in such a short period of time is rare in law enforcement. Most officers go their entire careers without one. Ray is also only 27-year-old.

"It's kind of weird being so young, I get a lot of jokes, ribbing, stuff like that. After my first incident, they drug test you and all that kind of stuff, my Sgt. at the time said, I don't know what they're doing that, all they're going to find is HC and fruit loops in your blood stream so...haha," Ray said.

Deadly shootings can mentally affect officers.

Not for Ray. For him, its cut and dry.

"I was 100 percent justified, the guy tried to kill me so I was defending myself, defending other officers on the scene," said Ray.

Not surprisingly, Ray is now a Special Weapons and Tactical, or SWAT, sniper. A position he made not long after the second shooting.

Per APD's general order, the police psychologist must be notified within 24 hours of a critical incident.

How much counseling an officer needs depends on the officer. The psychologist is available as long as the officer needs. The department also has a Peer Support Program.

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