Reporting Michelle Roberts
BOSTON (CBS) – Officers Robert DeNapoli and Mark Gibbons have a new title: Two of the bravest officers in the state. Governor Deval Patrick honored them with the Hanna Memorial Medal of Honor.
“Jack MaGuire got it,” says DeNapoli. “He lost his life for it. We’re lucky, we’re still alive.”
On September 6, 2011, DeNapoli responded to the Musto Jewelry store in Woburn. He pulled up when two guys were taking off out the back door. He got out of his cruiser and one of the suspects pulled out gun and opened fire.
“I just thought I was dead,” he says.
Police say 25-year-old Antonio Matos shot DeNapoli’s gun right out of his hand.
“Holy crap. Are you kidding me? Those were the first words out of my mouth when I went down,” recalls DeNapoli. “Are you kidding me? This is happening. You’re ready for it but you’re not ready for it. You expect it but you don’t expect it.”
He was shot five or six times, the last hit left him blind in one eye.
“I was down, I couldn’t really feel the pain that he was still shooting me until the round that hit me in the eye and that was kind of like, oh wow, that hurt.”
Officer Mark Gibbons says, “It was broadcast that the suspect was standing on the hood of the cruiser shooting down at the officer. The officer was already down. I knew it was a horrendous call.”
Officer Gibbons was around the corner and followed the suspect. Not long after, he was under attack.
“I got a good sight of him and we ended up with a face to face gunfight until he went down,” says Gibbons.
Antonio Matos was arrested and charged with attempted murder. And more than a year later, DeNapoli is still recovering and out of uniform.
“They say it’s not personal well, yeah it is,” says DeNapoli. “Of course I’m angry. This shouldn’t have happened. This guy ruined my life, messed me up.”
The recovery may be a long road, but DeNapoli won’t have to do it alone.
“We’ll be linked at the hip for the rest of our lives,” DeNapoli says smiling at Gibbons. “A little history. Not a bad thing.”
Matos pleaded not guilty to 36 charges including attempted murder. He is awaiting his trial. DeNapoli says he will be in the courtroom everyday of the trial.