Knoxville Police Officer B.K. Hardin was awarded the 2018 Purple Heart Monday for being attacked while on duty while directing traffic during a University of Tennessee football game in Nov. 2018.
During Hardin’s acceptance speech, he recognized the one volunteer who helped him that night.
Cody Griffith, 24, spoke publicly for the first time about the brutal attack on the officer on the night of Nov. 17.
Just a game night until
Griffith said he went to the UT vs Missouri game with his girlfriend that night. He parked in his girlfriend’s dorm parking lot like he did every time he visited her on campus.
He said when they got back to his truck after the Volunteers lost, he found a parking ticket on the windshield. He was shocked because he had never received a parking ticket in that lot before.
Griffith paid the ticket online before heading out into the mass of fans leaving the game.
Griffith saw two officers directing traffic at the intersection of 17th Street and Clinch Avenue; a female officer on one side and a male officer, who Griffith now knows as Officer B.K. Hardin, on the other side.
He remembered seeing something out of the corner of his eye that grabbed his attention.
He knew something wasn’t right
Griffith said a man appeared out of nowhere, dressed in dark clothes, heading toward Hardin.
He knew something wasn’t right.
Within a matter of seconds, Griffith saw the man raise his arm and swing it down hard on the police officer’s head.
Griffith immediately reacted.
He first tried to run after the assailant but saw Hardin try to get up from the ground. He rushed toward Hardin, catching him before he fell back down.
Griffith saw Hardin was bleeding heavily from his head wound.
EMTs throw him a medical bag
He tried to wave down an ambulance. The emergency lights already on, Griffith thought it was coming toward him to pick up Hardin.
The ambulance stopped, but the EMTs yelled they have a child on board and they were heading to the nearby East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.
The EMTs threw Griffith a medical bag instead.
A volunteer firefighter, Griffith knew what to do to save Hardin’s life.
Other officers arrived, surrounded the scene and started to take over.
More than right place, right time
Griffith recalled that during the incident, he was shocked no one else helped. He said he knows it was chaotic because of the traffic, but the few people who did witness it didn’t do anything.
He saw someone filming the chaos and laughing. He told them to stop and delete the video.
Both Griffith and Hardin said it was more than being at the right place at the right time; it was stepping into action that possibly saved Hardin’s life.