At the sentencing for one of his assailants, a partially paralyzed Oklahoma City police officer talked from a wheelchair Friday of how he fell in love with patrolling the streets and how a beating took “that away from me.”
“My goal is — if I make a full recovery — is to get back in the patrol car,” the officer, Chad Peery, told the judge. “I love the uniform.”
Three men were charged after Peery was assaulted late Feb. 15 while off duty with his father at a northwest Oklahoma City bar.
One of those men — Cadmio Antonio Lopez, 32, of Newcastle — was sentenced Friday to 15 years in prison and 15 years on probation for his role in the assault.
The other two men, Joshua B. Rinken, 29, of Norman, and Jimmy Dan Smith, 29, of Tuttle, are awaiting trial.
Prosecutors allege Rinken put the officer in a headlock, injuring his neck, and Smith repeatedly punched the officer in the head.
Lopez never hit Peery but did keep the officer's father and others from intervening, prosecutors said. Lopez, a construction worker, pleaded guilty in November to assault and battery by means of force as is likely to cause death.
Oklahoma County District Judge Kenneth Watson chose the punishment.
The judge rejected a defense request for a sentence of two years in prison and eight years on probation.
The judge said Lopez should have tried to break up the assault himself or stay out of it.
The judge pointed to testimony Peery identified himself as a police officer as he tried to get the men to leave the bar.
“I would never ever, ever in my life ever question a police officer's authority,” the judge said.
“That's his job.”
While in court, Lopez looked over at the officer and apologized. “I just want to say, ‘Sorry,'” he said. “Nobody deserves that. It's a bad deal that happened that night. I wish I was never there.”
But, in a written statement for a report to the judge, Lopez claimed Peery did not identify himself as a police officer. Lopez also claimed Peery was not attacked and used excessive force to get his friend to leave.
“He chose to be a bar fighter,” Lopez wrote about the officer. “He also was under the influence. When he charged Josh, there was somebody right behind him coming with him. I felt he was going to jump in, so I grabbed him and told him, ‘Fair fight, one on one.'”
Night of the assault
The night of his attack, Peery had gone with his father and friends to dinner at Twin Peaks, a restaurant in Oklahoma City. There, he said, he had a couple of drinks and watched an Oklahoma City Thunder game on TV.
He then went to a nearby bar, Dan O'Brien's Public House, where a bartender who knew he was a police officer asked for help in getting some aggressive customers to leave.
Peery remembers little about the assault that broke his neck. He said he did identify himself as an off-duty police officer. He testified he recalls escorting the men to the door, being threatened, being slapped and then being punched in the face as he grabbed for his attacker's hands.
He said the next thing he remembers is waking up outside the bar. He was flat on his back with fellow officers touching him in different spots and asking if he could feel it.
He testified he also remembers the ambulance ride to the hospital and the paramedic trying to keep him conscious. He recalled her saying, “Wake up, Chad! Stay with me, baby! Don't do this!”
“I remember being in excruciating pain,” he said.
He also remembers being told that night he would be lucky if he ever was able to move his arms again and that he likely would be paralyzed from the shoulders down.
Peery, 35, now can move his arms. He revealed Friday he has even walked again with assistance. He cannot grip with his hands, though.
He said he is back to work for the police department — in a criminal intelligence unit.
After the sentencing, Peery called the judge's decision fair.
“Physically, things are going very well,” he told news reporters. “I'm continuing to gain strength and endurance.”
He said he looks forward “to getting all this behind me.”