While many have rushed to cut associations with the police officer who was once called a hero and is now accused of threatening a woman and other aggressive behavior, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey takes part of the blame for Richard DeCoatsworth’s downfall.
Ramsey told Daily News Columnist Stu Bykofsky that he believes he failed the hero cop after he was shot in 2007 by letting him go back to work with a very stressful unit earlier than he should have.
"I think I screwed up on that," Ramsey told Bykofsky. "I think I should have given him more time. He didn't want more time, but I should have done that. I would not do that again with an officer."
DeCoatsworth was shot in the face when he was a rookie officer in 2007. He managed to chase down the suspect for several blocks before collapsing. He called in enough information by radio that police were able to track down and arrest the suspect later the same day.
President Obama lauded DeCoatsworth and invited him to sit next to the First Lady during the president’s first congressional address in February of 2009.
But the past few years have been hard for DeCoatsworth and Ramsey told Bykofsky that police officers can suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and the police commissioner can relate. Ramsey said that he learned the need for an officer to heal after a traumatic event when he shot someone in the line of duty as a young Chicago police officer.
Ramsey said it paralyzed him the next time he had to chase down a suspect.
"[DeCoatsworth] got shot and had half his face blown off. People need to remember that, I think, before they get a little too critical of him," Ramsey told Bykofsky. "That's going to affect the way in which you interact with people."
Since the shooting, DeCoatsworth has shot at two different suspects, allegedly got into a physical fight with another officer, and has gotten nine citizen complaints of assault, abuse and misconduct. Only one of the complaints has been validated by Internal Affairs, reports Bykofsky.
"I know people have reached out to him, trying to help him and I hope he takes advantage of that help. He's not a bad guy as far as I'm concerned, but he definitely needs some counseling,” Ramsey told Bykofsky. “I feel bad about that because I don't think we did enough to help this kid."