Almost exactly a year ago, Baton Rouge police Cpl. Shane Totty was in bad shape.
In February 2018, Totty raced to a call concerning a man with severe mental health issues, the Advocate reported. Shots were fired through the police cruiser windshield, striking Totty in the face.
He lost part of his vision for some time after the shooting but was resolved to rejoin the force after his recovery.
Totty requested a specific department for his return, according to Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul — the motorcycle unit.
That transfer began a chain of events that ended in tragedy Friday when Totty, 31, was struck by a pickup while riding his motorcycle during a funeral procession. He died of his injuries soon after the collision, the department said.
Totty was planning his wedding with his fiancee, the Advocate reported. The couple had a baby girl not long after the shooting. In one photo, Totty and his fiancee, Catty, stand at a fireplace holding the baby, who has an orange flower on her head.
“He’s a fighter,” Paul said in a news conference Friday following Totty’s death. “He was a really bright young man. He had a bright future with the police department.”
The shooting last year was the circumstance that brought the men together for the first time, Paul explained. The chief visited him in the hospital after the shooting. Totty struck him with flashes of resilience.
"He was eager to get back to work,” Paul said.
The collision occurred after the truck left an apartment complex and remains under investigation. Charges are pending, East Baton Rouge Sheriff Sid Gautreaux said in the news conference, although he did not release a suspect’s name.
Photos from the scene show a dark truck demolished on its front left side with debris scattered around an upturned police motorcycle.
The office is reviewing video of the incident, Gautreaux said.
Friday’s incident was remarkably similar to another collision that killed a Louisiana officer who was also riding a motorcycle for a funeral procession. Jason Seals, an officer with the Slidell Police Department, died in November from injuries he received in a September incident outside New Orleans.
Capt. Don Kelly, who oversaw Totty’s squad before retiring last year, told the Advocate that Totty’s death was especially meaningful after he fought to make a recovery last year, leading to the transfer that would determine his fate.
“He loved motorcycles. That was his dream,” Kelly said. “He was doing what he loved . . . it’s such a sad irony after what happened and everything he went through — it’s just cruel. It’s unbelievable. It’s heartbreaking.”
The incident culminated in a tragic symmetry, authorities explained.
Last year, after Totty was shot, he was rushed to Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center for treatment. He was taken to the same hospital Friday, Gautreaux said.
"The surgeon that was on duty that night was the same surgeon that worked on him tonight,” Gautreaux noted.