PORTLAND - Ten years ago, on January 9th, 2003, Damon Coates, a popular and respected Clackamas County Sheriff’s deputy, was shot in the face and nearly died.
A decade later, he relies on full-time nursing care, provided by Clackamas County.
“Hard to remember really what happened,” said his wife, Tammy, standing next to Damon as he sat in a wheelchair.
Coates was working the night shift. He was on his way home to check on his kids when he diverted to help with a call involving a 15-year-old named Nick Teixeira.
Without warning, Teixeira pulled a gun and shot Coates in the face.
“Do you remember that day 10 years ago when you were shot?" Tammy asks Damon. He slowly nods. He suffered a massive stroke that night along with other injuries.
The life-long sportsman and car buff was determined to come back, and threw himself into daily physical therapy. He grew strong enough to walk down the aisle when each of his boys got married.
But a year-and-a-half ago, he suffered major seizures and nearly died again. The seizures left him unable to talk. Doctors warned Tammy he probably would not live to see Christmas of 2011. His family celebrated with lots of pictures when the day arrived.
“And here you are, coming on two years on it,” Tammy said, looking at him. “So God has a different plan and I believe that Satan wants you down but God's preserving your life for a good reason right? We believe that a hundred percent."
Tammy says she and Damon endure each day by relying on their Christian faith.
“You have to hang on and have to hang on with your relationship with the Lord. You can’t make it really, without it. I'm not that good of a person,” she said.
She's not sure why her husband and family are traveling this difficult road. It’s been ten years, time filled with some joy and much pain.
“One day at a time. Soon as I think of that future, how am I going to do this 10 more years? You know all those normal things that anybody is going to think about, I have to give it over to the Lord again, because I just can’t go there, because I wouldn’t get out of bed," Tammy said.
She added that she has forgiven the shooter.
Nick Teixeira is being held at the Oregon State Hospital in Salem. He’s eligible for a move to Pendleton and a secure residential facility but so far, there are no openings for him.