The Knoxville Police Department awarded Officer Jay Williams, the police officer wounded in the line of duty, a Purple Heart during the department’s Employee of the Year Awards on Tuesday morning.
Williams was shot in the shoulder during a traffic stop in January. The man accused of shooting WIliams, Ronnie Wilson, was taken into custody two days later after police say he attempted to set fire to an abandoned Blount County home he was hiding in before trying to escape.
Officer Williams received a gunshot wound to his left shoulder, an attack that could have taken his life.
“There was quite a bit of discomfort and pain,” Williams said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to continue to heal and grow, and I just pray for more healing.”
The shooting tested him physically and emotionally.
“There have been a lot of personal and professional changes… a lot of growth… reflection,” Williams said. “I’m definitely taking the opportunity to appreciate each day. Nothing is guaranteed and I’ve been blessed to still be here and get to continue to serve.”
Williams said he did not fire at Wilson’s vehicle the night of the attack, because there was a woman inside the car and he didn’t want to injure her.
“I saw another person in the vehicle,” Williams said. “She was not an active participant. She was not engaged in any attack. I couldn’t, in good conscience, fire and risk hitting her.”
Williams attributed the judgment call to his training at the Knoxville Police Department.
“It makes you feel good that the effort you put in on the front end pays off on that back end,” Chief David Rausch said. “Jay is a perfect example of that.. of not over-reacting and staying in control even after being shot, which is a testament to his courage and his strength.”
The awards ceremony was held at The Foundry on World’s Fair Park Drive on Tuesday at 11:30 a.m.