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Hard to Kill: Pete Tanzilli

April 27, 2020

BenShot's Hard To Kill articles feature and share the stories of law enforcement officers around the country who have been shot in the line of duty and survived. 
BenShot sends each honoree a "bulletproof" Thin Blue Line glass gift set. 

Former New Mexico Police Officer Pete Tanzilli

“On March 24, 2016, I was on duty working the 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. shift. At approximately midnight I spotted a vehicle operating at what appeared to be a high rate of speed near a 24-hour casino. The car ended up being stolen out of Albuquerque. I requested backup but while waiting for it I was forced to confront the two suspects as they parked the car and walked toward me. As the two suspects were approaching, I drew my firearm and ordered both to the ground. One of the suspects turned and ran away while the other sat down on a raised landscaping ledge refusing all the orders that I gave him. 

"I holstered my weapon and went hands on with the suspect, throwing him to the ground with him resisting arrest as I was trying to get him onto his stomach in order to place him into handcuffs, while still having to watch for the other suspect who initially ran. The suspect pulled a stolen handgun from his waistband in an effort to shoot me, but I was able to grab the gun from his left hand and push it into his mid-section. As I did that I reached back to draw my own handgun again, and as I came up on target the suspect was able to twist his handgun out of my grasp just enough to fire one contact (point blank) shot into my left pelvis, knocking me back onto the ground, flat on my back. 

"The suspect stood up and began to run back to the stolen vehicle, which was located approximately 20 yards to the south of where I was still lying down, unable to stand up. The bullet that struck me fractured my left pelvis, destroying my sciatic and peroneal nerves, immediately lodging into my lower spine between the L5 and S1 of my spinal cord, which rendered me unable to move my lower body at the time. As the suspect ran to the stolen vehicle, I was able to fire at him one-handed from my back, hitting him several times, ending any threat that he posed as he reached the driver-side-door of the vehicle.

"The bullet, which was fired from a stolen 9mm handgun, is still lodged in my spine. I am no longer able to work as a police officer due to my disabilities. My wife and I relocated from New Mexico to Colorado, where I currently work for a civil engineering firm part time while awaiting a decision to collect disability. Despite still dealing with chronic pain as well as other physical and emotional disabilities, I will not let what happened to me beat me. I have an amazing support network in my family, close friends, and other heroes from around the country, who are always available to me. Only quit after you are dead.”




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