- Associated Press - Saturday, December 24, 2016

SOUTHAVEN, Miss. (AP) - A Clarksdale police officer who was shot in the eye early this year is back home, and says he forgives the 19-year-old man accused of shooting him.

In February, Cpl. Derrick Couch was sedated and unconscious. He began walking in July. He was in Clarksdale’s Christmas parade, waving to the crowd from a car with the mayor and police chief.

Mayor Bill Luckett tells the Press Register (https://bit.ly/2hh0eT7) that when he first saw Couch in intensive care, he thought he was going to die. He calls it a miracle to see him out walking.

Couch, 40, was shot Feb. 13, while investigating a grocery store holdup.

Police have charged 19-year-old Johnny Robinson Jr. with attempted murder and two counts of attempted robbery.

Couch’s wife, Renita Couch, said, “I think I had more compassion for the young man when I found he’s 19 years old. … I have an 11yearold. Who’s to say that my child would get older and wouldn’t make a bad decision like that? Do I want everyone to crucify my child for a bad decision?”

She said she’d never thought about Robinson until his father called.

The father called twice, she said - first to thank them for not saying anything negative about Robinson, and then to ask if he could help the Couches in any way, such as cutting their grass or helping clean the house.

Derrick Couch’s mind is now at full strength, but his right arm and leg are still injured and his speech is slow.

Renita Couch said faith and prayer kept them strong.

“When I got the phone call, nothing ever triggered in me that, ‘Oh, OK, this is it. You’re going to lose him. Get ready to say your goodbyes,’” she said.

And, she said, “I just prayed. I just believed what I was praying and I just took it one day at a time. … I stuck by him and that’s how we got through.”

Derrick Couch takes things day by day, setting small goals. He plans to return to work when he’s entirely well.

Assistant Police Chief Robbie Linley said Chief Whit Read is holding the position for Couch.

“He was a great officer. … He was not someone that you got complaints on,” Linley said.

Luckett said even before Couch is ready to be a patrol officer, he might be able to come back for desk work.

Linley said Couch’s recovery has been very slow but steady. “I think he continues to progress and get better and better and I hope he does come back to work here.”

Couch has been an ordained minister since he was living in Tunica and attended the Spirit of True Believers.

He and his family now attend Agape Christian Center in South Memphis and he uses his ministry on the police force.

His wife said that many times, Couch ministers to people he pulls over rather than ticketing them, “or he will encourage them or he will talk to them and see what’s going on and try to help them.”

“I like helping people,” Derrick Couch said.

The family moved to Southaven in 2014, but he never thought about leaving the Columbus Police Department.

“The love - they have genuine love,” he said. “It seems funny, but it isn’t. You have to be in it to see what I’m saying.”

___

Information from: The Clarksdale Press Register.


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