Detroit police officer stabbed and shot in line of duty, is honored after his fight to recover

A year ago Detroit Police Officer Ricardo Sanchez was one of several officers that responded to a call on Hanna Street on the east side. A man with mental illness, attempting suicide with a knife - then turned the weapon on Sanchez.  

"This is the initial stab wound," Sanchez said.

He was stabbed multiple times in the arm and thigh – then shot.  

"The round entered my thumb approximately here and came out just inside my thumb here," he said. "Because of how close he was, about the only thing I could do was get my hands up and fight with him over the weapon."  

A fellow officer forced to shoot the man to stop the attack in the process, firing a bullet into Sanchez’s hand. 

"Officer McCullough is the majority of the reason I'm here speaking with you today," he said. "(He is) the reason that I got to go home and see my family and my son. I told him that I believe he saved my life that day." 

Sanchez had a 5-month-old and a wife at home. Immediately he was rushed into surgery.   

"Right before surgery I told him, I said, 'You can't take my thumb, if you take my thumb I'm not going to be able to be a police officer anymore,'" Sanchez said.  

The surgeon saved his thumb – but his injuries were extensive.

Related: Detroit police officer injured in knife attack hit by friendly fire; suspect dead

"Fortunately pretty early on, I realized I wasn't going to be able to shoot right-handed and be as accurate as is needed for this type of job," he said. 

He knew – he had to become an honorary left-hander, working tirelessly through physical therapy and surgeries – and then learn how to shoot again.

Officer Ricardo Sanchez and his family.

Officer Ricardo Sanchez and his family.

He trained himself to shoot with his left hand - with the final hurdle in January to qualify at the shooting range.  

"The instructor came by and I said, 'How did I do?' and he looked at me and he did the math in his head because they do this sort of thing all day, he said 248," Sanchez said.

That’s almost a perfect score, days later – with his wife’s blessing. He was back.  

His tenacity earned him the Chief’s Award. DPD Chief James White says there’s no one more deserving.

"We should name the award after him. That's just how proud I am of that young officer," said Chief White.

Another victory Sanchez had, was learning to change a diaper - as a lefty.   

"The hardest part were the snaps on the reusable diapers," he quipped.

FOX 2: "Are you a pro now?"

"I'm getting very good now," he said.

Officer Ricardo Sanchez

Officer Ricardo Sanchez