Deputy dragged by truck says it's a miracle he's alive

5:39 PM, Dec 24, 2009   |    comments
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Thursday, he was working on his neck and hand; just some of the areas that hurt.

On a cold day like Thursday, Peterson says the pain is ever-present.

"This is the worst it's ever been for me," Peterson said. "I've been hurt, but nothing like this."

Peterson has worked for the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office for 33 years. He's done it all: patrol, the jail, investigations.

Last July, he joined the newly-formed Jefferson County Auto Theft Task Force.

A month later, on Aug. 19, Peterson was run over by an accused car thief.

Peterson says he and his partner were tracking a stolen truck for several hours when they saw it in Englewood, off of Santa Fe and Dartmouth.

"The truck was right in front of us," Peterson said. "The one we're looking form with no plates on it, being driven by a female. My partner said, 'They're stopped in traffic, lets go get them.'"

Peterson says the truck was in one of the turning lanes on Santa Fe. It was blocked by a number of cars.

Peterson's partner approached the car first from the driver's side and Peterson approached from the passenger's side.

"She looked over in my direction and saw me coming and turned to the right where I was and hit the gas of the truck and tried to run me over," Peterson said.

Peterson grabbed on to the passenger side of the truck with his left hand, his gun in his right. The driver kept going.

"I was yelling at her, 'Police, stop! Police, stop,' and she didn't of course, she accelerated," Peterson said. "That's what I thought, 'I can't let her get any further than this because then I'm going to die for sure if I fall off at high speed.' Shots were fired. She ended up hitting a brick wall. It's probably a good thing or I probably would've been killed," he said.

According to 9NEWS' partners at The Denver Post, the driver of the stolen truck was 21-year-old Brittany Thurman. She is paralyzed from the stomach down from one of the gunshots and has been charged with four felonies.

Peterson, who's had his neck broken in two places, multiple broken ribs and a skin graft from a burn, says he hoped to retire never having to shoot anyone. He says he thinks about Thurman every day.

"It does bother me, she's young, she's gonna be paralyzed," Peterson said. "It weighs on you, even though she did run me over. There is not a day go by I don't think about it. Think about her."

Rescuers and fellow officers pulled Peterson from under the truck. Since that day in August, he's been working on getting his life back.

"I think it's gonna be a Christmas to where you're grateful you're here," he said. "This year, I'm happy to be here. It's kind of a miracle, I'm alive. I'm not paralyzed in any way, that's a miracle. From rolling under that truck I thought sure I'd be paralyzed. But I'm not, I'm very lucky."

Peterson says he plans to get back to work in March and he wants to continue his duties on the Jefferson County Auto Theft Task Force.

Thurman is scheduled to be in court Jan. 26.

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