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Guilt of Shooting Unarmed Man Weighs Heavy on Texas Cop

“July 5, 1999, we had just celebrated the Fourth of July festivities,” Johnny Rose recalls. “And being a member of the SWAT team, I was called out to a subdivision where there was a man that had had a shotgun and held it to his wife’s head and threatened to kill her. “
                              
By the time Deputy Johnny Rose of Granbury, Texas, arrived on the scene, the man had fled into the woods.

“Myself and this other officer noticed that there was a silhouette, a shadow, coming out of the woods, and it looked like he was carrying what we thought was a shotgun,” Johnny says. “As he is approaching us, he raises the shotgun up to his shoulder. With us fearing for our lives, we shot him and killed him.”
 
What he saw next would haunt him for years.
                          
“We approached him to get the weapon away from him, and I saw that it was a large stick,” Johnny says. “He wanted to die, wanted to commit suicide, and I was very angry that he used me and this other officer to do that. It was a pretty rough day. We’d never been through that. (I) Didn’t really know how to deal with all the feelings I was going through. You become angry. You’re scared.”
                           
Although an investigation deemed the shooting justifiable, the guilt of killing an unarmed man weighed heavily on Johnny. “I had nightmares and flashbacks,” he says. “You have strange thoughts when you go through a critical incident like that.”

Johnny was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He went to mandatory counseling, but he was convinced he needed no one’s help.  “It could be just being stubborn, that I can handle it on my own, you know. I didn’t realize how hurt I was in my mind and in my heart. I still had problems; burying myself in depression and bitterness and anger.”
                              
It affected every area of his life. He became distant and irritable, and often lashed out at those around him. “It showed in my marriage and in my work, how I was treating fellow employees. I just was so angry.”
                         
Eventually, he and his wife divorced.
                       
“That hurt my children. It just upset me so much. You feel like a failure because you made a promise to that person and you made a promise to God to be married. So you feel like quite a loser.”  

Johnny sank into a deep depression that would last for five years. “It was a pit I couldn’t get out of,” he says. “I just felt like nothing really mattered.”
                            
Then, after a string of failed relationships, he realized he needed help. “I had just broken up with a girlfriend and that was just the straw that broke the camel’s back,” he says. “I was like, ‘This is it. I cannot do this myself. I think I’m a big bad cop. I can’t handle this.’”
                             
Johnny had been raised in a Christian home, but never felt he needed Jesus in his life - until now.
                            
“I needed to turn to Jesus,” Johnny says. “I said, ‘Jesus, You’ve got to take this and You’ve got to handle this for me, and I’ll give all I’ve got for You. I need You. Please come into my heart.’”
                            
After he prayed, Johnny dusted off the family Bible and began reading. “There was a weight lifted. I felt different. I felt like that anger and bitterness was gone. My life became much better. You see things different as a believer. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen, but I knew it would be OK.”
                             
He has since remarried and has a good relationship with his daughters. He also continues to work in law enforcement in Texas. No matter what he might face, though, Johnny says now he knows where to turn. “The most important thing in life is to have a relationship with Jesus, because He’s truly the secret to life,” he says. “He’s the one thing that will never change.”
                           
Today, Johnny encourages members of the military and law enforcement who may be suffering with PTSD. “If you’re not a believer, you need to be a believer if you’re going to be in this profession. Nothing is impossible for God. Nothing is too hard for God. He created you and me and He’s worried about us and He loves us. That’s a pretty amazing thought,” Johnny says. “Turn to Jesus and He can give you peace of mind. That is what He has given me, is peace of mind.”

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