Organized Crime Unit Hit Hard By Tragedy
(Memphis) Today’s police shooting marks the second officer involved shooting in the past month involving a Memphis Police officer in the organized crime unit. On November 8th Officer Willie Bryant was accidentally shot in the back by his partner, Byron Willis while serving a search warrant. He’s now recovering at home so is Officer William Vrooman, who was released from the hospital this afternoon. Vrooman was one of the officers injured while serving a drug warrant on Mendenhall Cove today. Officer Martoyia Lang was killed.
“This is a second time in a couple of months we’ve had an individual shot serving a warrant,” said Officer Mike Williams, Memphis Police Association.
Organized Crime Officers work undercover. News Channel doesn’t show video of their faces but the grief these OCU officers felt was evident in the hugs and tears shed outside the hospital. They perform some of the most dangerous duties involved in police work, serving warrants on gang members and drug dealers.
“We got a hospital room full of officers that are grieving. This officer she was a friend, a family member and at the end of the day you have these officers who will go and have to perform the same functions that this officer did and lost her life today,” said Dir. Toney Armstrong, Memphis Police.
Armstrong confirmed this is second time in about a month Officer Lang was injured serving a warrant. In a highly publicized incident she shot a dog while serving another warrant after he bit her.
“We didn’t run against all of this in the past,” said Williams.
The police association president says the current climate in the community questioning every action of Memphis police is one reason he believes the criminals aren’t thinking twice about attacking officers.
“They understood that we were going to come in and we were going to do what we did and needless to say if that meant we had to shoot somebody, we’d shoot them,” said Williams.
All of the officers serving on the OCU team involved in the shooting are being offered counseling. They will also all be debriefed but the reality according to the Memphis Police Association is some of them may be back on the streets serving warrants as early as tomorrow.