Chickasha, OK – A Chickasha police sergeant who suffered debilitating injuries after he was shot multiple times in the line of duty has been terminated by his department.
Chickasha Police Sergeant Matthew Schoolfield was one of seven Chickasha police officers who were injured during the Sept. 17, 2017 gun battle with 61-year-old attempted kidnapping suspect Alex Warren Klingler, KOKH reported.
The officers had converged on a residence where Klingler was staying in order to serve a search warrant, but came under fire as they approached the home, KFOR reported.
“Subject’s moving through the building. Randomly firing through the walls. East side, west side, rounds coming out,” an officer said in a 911 call. “Shots fired! Large amount. Subject barricaded. We have one of our officers shot.”
Investigators later determined that Klinger was using a .308 rifle, KWTV reported.
At least five bullets hit Sgt. Schoolfield, including two that were stopped by his ballistic vest, KFOR reported.
“One round went through my helmet down the right side of my face through my ear,” he told the news outlet. “The one that went in my forearm that actually severed my arm other than a few tendons and some skin tissue.”
Despite the severity of his wounds, Sgt. Schoolfield managed to make his way over to an officer at the perimeter of the scene before he collapsed.
His fellow officer dragged him to safety and a tourniquet was applied to his upper right arm.
Six other officers were injured during the shootout with Klingler, including Officer Daniel Ramirez, who was hit by shrapnel, KFOR reported at the time.
“Klingler intended to kill every officer that was out there,” District Attorney Jason Hicks said.
The gunman ultimately surrendered, and was later convicted of maiming, six counts of shooting with intent to kill, and three counts of assault and battery with a deadly weapon.
He was sentenced to 10 life terms, each of which was ordered to be served consecutively, KWTV reported.
All seven officers survived the attack, but Sgt. Schoolfield’s injuries prevented him from returning to full duty.
“They had to reconstruct my arm, try to connect everything the best they could. I’ve had nine procedures now, possibly a tenth coming,” he told KFOR. “I try not to hold a grudge, just live my life and don’t let what’s happened to me consume me.”
Sgt. Schoolfield returned to the force on light-duty for nearly one year, but the department removed him from that position in 2019.
He said he was blindsided by the change.
“It kind of seemed like everybody was gonna take care of me and not to worry about things, and then a contract comes up,” he told KFOR at the time. “Right now, it’s doubtful that I’ll be able to be a police officer again because of the loss of function in my hand. I’m not gonna be selfish enough to put myself above those that I would be working alongside of or even the citizens I’m supposed to protect.”
“Sometimes, I feel like a burden to my family,” Sgt. Schoolfield told KOTV. “I never really gave up on the dream to be a police officer, but two years and you start realizing I have a lot of limitations still.”
In late February, he was terminated from the Chickasha Police Department altogether, The Express-Star reported.
The circumstances of his firing are unclear, and the city refused to comment on the situation, calling it a personnel issue.
Former CPD Sergeant Shayne Melton, who now works in a different law enforcement position, said that he worked alongside former Sgt. Schoolfield for years.
“I got to watch Matthew be the epitome of a leader, not just for the department but for this community. I also watched him take things personal when citizens were victimized,” said former Sgt. Melton, as he protested his friend’s termination outside city hall on Feb. 28.
“He became more than just a coworker,” he explained. “He became a brother, he became family, and I would expect anybody to do this for a family member.”
Former Sgt. Melton, an 18-year law enforcement veteran, said that the department should have done more to keep Sgt. Schoolfield on the force, The Express-Star reported.
“I know that there’s different avenues, there’s different positions, different roles that a person can play in a law enforcement community and I think that those options should be explored,” he said. “We, as a community, owe him more than what he received this week…I just want Matthew to know that we as a community love him.”
Now-former Sgt. Schoolfield and his wife, Johnna, are pushing for a new state law aimed at helping law enforcement officers injured in the line of duty, KOTV reported.
HB 3330, sponsored by Representative David Perryman, would ensure that officers disabled in the line of duty by a violent act would receive 100 percent disability.
If passed, the couple said they hoped the law will be put into immediate effect and applied retroactively.
“You’re just tired of seeing him hurt. You’re tired of seeing him go through all the pain,” Johnna told KOTV. “I vow that nobody, no other person will have to go through this, if this passes. No other person will have to be put on the back burner like we were.”