Tulsa Officer To Continue Career After Amputation

Thursday, March 5th 2009, 9:33 pm
By: News On 6

By Lori Fullbright, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- A Tulsa police officer has made a difficult decision.

At the end of the month, his leg will be amputated below the knee. Far from ending his career, he hopes it will be enhanced.

While chasing a car thief in October 2002, Officer David Turner jumped over a fence and fell 10 feet to a concrete drainage ditch and shattered his right ankle.

He has undergone eight surgeries in the past seven years, including two ankle replacements. As the implants were wearing out, he developed an infection in the bone around the implant and the pain was constant.

Turner was left with two options: fusion or amputation. Fusion would mean very limited movement.

"That's not really a good option for me as a police officer because I love my job," he said. "That's all I want to do, is my job."

Although every step he's taken has been agony, Turner has been an active, highly decorated member of the force. He doesn't walk with a limp and never complains.

Between the surgeries, Turner continued to arrest many high-profile criminals, including armed robbers during the ice storm who since pleaded guilty.

Doctors tell him after he learns to use his prosthetic, he'll have no limitations.

To get ready, he's talked to other amputees and watched videos of military people who went back into service after amputation.

"So, I'm thinking if a navy seal can go back to the military and fight in a war, certainly I can go back to being a police officer," Turner said.

Turner will be the department's first amputee but says there are many others across the country.

Despite his upbeat attitude, he admits he's scared of the unknown ahead.

"Everyone said it's getting over the initial shock of not having a leg because it's like a death," Turner said. "You'll mourn it, just like a death."

He says being able to work again without pain or to hike or even get back to competitive ballroom dancing will be worth it.

Amputation will not be as life-changing as his injury has already been, he says.

"My goals are to become lean and mean again," Turner said. "I don't know about the mean part, but at least lean."

Turner's surgery is March 31. He will be fitted with his prosthetic seven weeks later and says he hopes to be back at work five weeks later.