‘One in a million’ recovery for Alexandria officer who was shot in head

March 14, 2013

When Alexandria police officer Peter Laboy was shot in the head last month, his family and friends knew he faced tough odds. But Thursday, his doctor said the veteran officer is now able to gingerly walk and say a few words, developments she called “one in a million.”

“I’ve been at this for 27 years, and this is one for the books,” said Janis M. Orlowski, chief medical officer at MedStar Washington Hospital Center.

Laboy was shot Feb. 27 when he stopped a cabdriver who some area shopkeepers said had been acting strangely in their Old Town store. Kashif Bashir, 27, has been charged with malicious wounding of a law enforcement officer and a weapons offense and is being held without bond.

“We don’t have a motive; it was senseless,” Police Chief Earl L. Cook said. “Sometimes in our profession, we don’t have a motive. Sometimes you are just ambushed.”

During a news conference Thursday afternoon, Orlowski described Laboy’s progress, saying his recovery is “a miracle.”

Officer Peter Laboy, a 17-year veteran of the Alexandria Police Department was shot during a traffic stop on Feb. 27. (Courtesy of Alexandria Police Department)

Laboy has been moved to a rehabilitation center, where she said he will probably stay for the next nine months to a year. The bullet entered his temple and ricocheted against the other side of his skull, shattering inside his head.

Doctors have removed some of the fragments and left others.

Laboy, a motorcycle officer with 17 years on the force, doesn’t know what happened to him, Cook said. But he does recognize his wife and four sons.

Orlowski said that there was significant injury to the frontal lobe of his brain but that the part that controls motor functions was not as damaged as doctors initially thought. She said she never uses the word “lucky.”

“He was fortunate the way the bullet traversed the brain,” she said.

She also attributes Laboy’s speedy recovery to the more than 100 medical staff members who have helped care for him.

“Officer Laboy had a one in a million chance at recovery, and these doctors and nurses gave him that one in a million chance,” she said.

Cook said Laboy has always been “on the front line.”

“Peter has always been a guy with a lot of courage,” Cook said. “He doesn’t stand down from difficult circumstances.”

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