September 11, 2003 - Posted at: 8:09 a.m. CDT
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- A Marion police officer who stared at his assailant right before being shot in the face is the state's police officer of the year.
Officer Freddy Williams returned to the force three months after a routine traffic stop turned deadly in January. Attorney General Mike Beebe honored him yesterday with the Outstanding Law Enforcement Officer of the Year award.
Williams pulled over a car for speeding on Interstate-55 between Marion and West Memphis, and said be became suspicious when the passenger showed him a birth certificate. Shortly, the passenger was leaning out the window and taking aim.
The gunman fired, striking Williams just underneath his left cheek. Williams ducked into his sqaud car and radioed for help. He said he thought about his ten-year-old son and that he didn't want to leave him.
Williams was able to return fire, and a back-up officer arrived and told Williams that she thought the gunman was dead. He saw in a car mirror at the scene that he had a hole under his left cheek. Williams still has a bullet in his neck because it can't be removed.
Williams was shot on a Monday, had surgery of a Friday and came home on a Sunday to a banner hanging outside his house that read "Welcome Home" and was signed by members of the baseball and football teams he coaches.
He returned to work three months later.