- Associated Press - Thursday, December 17, 2015

WAGNER, S.D. (AP) - The job will never be the same for two Wagner police officers after one of them was hospitalized for more than a month following an assault in May.

“Every day is a constant reminder of it,” said Wagner Police Officer Brian McGuire.

Richard Golus, 55, of Lake Andes, was sentenced to 25 years in prison, 13 suspended, for punching McGuire in the head on May 22 while under the influence of methamphetamine, The Daily Republic reported (http://bit.ly/1OyAvvG ).

The punch caused McGuire to hit his head on the concrete. Golus was charged with a count of simple assault against a law enforcement officer against DesaRae Gravatt, another Wagner police officer who arrested Golus that night, and police found a sawed-off shotgun in the trunk of his vehicle.

Golus pleaded guilty to the offense on Oct. 26.

McGuire suffered a concussion and was hospitalized for more than one month, making several trips to an Avera hospital in Sioux Falls. McGuire said he has lost his senses of taste and smell, as well as hearing in his right ear. Doctors said the injuries are likely permanent.

Support for McGuire came from near and far. McGuire said he even received a note from London.

“It was amazing to see the support from the community and the world. It was a good feeling for me,” McGuire said.

Before Golus was sentenced, the court heard testimonies from both McGuire and Gravatt, who said the emotional damage is greatest.

“I loved my job. Absolutely loved it. There was no greater career in the world for me,” McGuire said in his court testimony.

After the assault, McGuire said he froze on his first assignment after returning and was less motivated to leave the police department building. He considered giving up the badge and leaving law enforcement. He has since put those thoughts behind him, largely thanks to the influence of Gravatt.

“I can honestly say right now, if it wasn’t for Des, I wouldn’t be here right now. She’s my best friend, and I’d be lost out here without her,” McGuire said after the sentencing.

Although Gravatt inspired McGuire to keep going, she said she has her own struggles following the assault.

“I questioned whether or not I was going to continue doing that job,” Gravatt said in her testimony. “I have a toddler at home that needs me, and it’s not worth it.”

Gravatt said there are still times when she’ll see someone commit a traffic violation and decide it’s not worth pursuing if there is no backup available. She said a police scanner in her home was turned on that night, and her parents, worried their daughter had been shot, asked Gravatt to leave the force. Gravatt said she intends to focus on criminal investigations in the future.

McGuire had a similar experience. The incident happened three blocks from McGuire’s home, so his fiancee heard the sirens and was asked by an officer to go to the hospital.

Even worse was hearing his 5-year-old son cry after telling him he wasn’t able to come see him because he was in the hospital.

“I am his hero. I can’t take that back,” McGuire said with tears in his eyes.

At least five agencies responded to assist the Wagner police officers after the incident. Law enforcement from Gregory County, Douglas County, Charles Mix County, Game, Fish and Parks and Yankton Sioux Tribal Police Department responded, McGuire said.

“On duty, off duty, it didn’t matter. They heard one of us was hurt, and they were coming to help,” McGuire said. “The bond that law enforcement shares with each other is - you can’t explain it. If you’re not a cop, you won’t understand, but we’re a family, and we’re going to protect our own.”

Golus was given a chance to speak before Judge Bruce Anderson sentenced him. Golus claimed he was pushed by his adulterous wife to use methamphetamine, and if he wasn’t on drugs that night, the incident never would have happened.

“I was at a low point of my life,” he said.

Golus will be eligible for parole in seven years, when he’s 62.

Golus will also have to pay restitution to McGuire, which Charles Mix County State’s Attorney Scott Podhradsky estimated at $13,000.

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Information from: The Daily Republic, http://www.mitchellrepublic.com

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