A True Partnership
The night of June 3, 2006 started out like a typical shift for Los Angeles police officers Kristina Ripatti and Joe Meyer. They were looking for gang members or other potential perpetrators when they spotted an older man on foot who looked like a "base head," a crack addict. Because he was acting suspicious, they stopped him, not knowing he was a dangerous career criminal. When Ripatti got out of the police car, the man took off running.
"I had no idea why he ran," says Ripatti. "He ran into a yard and up a porch. It was dark, no lights, and the guy tried to get in the door. I grabbed him from behind to take him down and he pulled out a gun."
The crack of the .22 caliber pistol rang in Ripatti's ears as she fell backward and hit her head on the porch railing. The shooter fired three more shots into her body as she lay in a pool of blood, already in shock. "I just remember the first shot," says Ripatti. "My next memory is of Joe holding me down on the ground trying to keep me still. I just wanted to get up and tried to push him off, but I couldn't. I had no idea how much I was bleeding. I remember Joe saying, 'Stay with me, think of Tim and Jordan'" [her husband and daughter]. Meyer had already taken the shooter down with three shots and had called for backup, but Ripatti was unaware of this. Her eyes locked in a gaze, and Meyer wasn't sure she was going to make it.
The call was picked up by several LAPD officers, including Tim Pearce, Kristina's husband. Pearce was working about five miles away and immediately headed for the scene. He had no idea his wife was involved in the shooting, but as his patrol car edged closer to the scene, the radio transmissions took a chilling turn and he realized the officer down was his wife.
Arriving at the scene, Pearce ran up the porch steps, slipping in a large puddle of what he thought was water. When he looked down, he was startled by the massive amount of blood. His wife's face was white and her eyes unresponsive. Instantly his mind processed the scene and concluded there was no way she could survive. But his heart — his heart held on to hope as he knelt beside her, took her hand and whispered, "I love you and I'm right here. Hold on, Kristina, please just hold on."
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