The police officer was down with a bullet in his head as his partner pounded on his chest screaming, "Donald, don't leave me!"
Now, Donald McMullin, after two operations and lengthy rehabilitation, is hoping to return to the force for the first time since that June 27, 1991, shooting. He is expecting to get the same partner - his twin brother, Brian.Few thought Donald would survive, much less work as a police officer again. Some people he meets on the street think he died.
"They'll recognize me, but they'll think I'm Brian, and they'll say, `You're the officer that lost his brother in the gunfight, aren't you?' " Donald said in an interview. "It's kind of hard to tell them, `It's me who was shot, and I'm here.' "
Donald and Brian had stopped a car with no headlights on about 2:15 that Thursday morning.
A gun muzzle flashed, and Donald went down. Brian summoned help, fired 16 rounds at the fleeing car and tried cardiopulmonary resuscitation to keep his brother alive.
Two men were later arrested. James Leath, who fired at Donald, was convicted of aggravated assault and weapons charges and sentenced recently to at least 221/2 years in prison. The other man, the driver, was acquitted.
Donald, with Brian constantly by his side, remained unconscious for two weeks. When he awoke, he remembered nothing of the shooting.
"It's amazing how close you can come to losing your life and not even remember it," he said.
A breakthrough in his recovery came when he remembered talking to kids on a street corner before the shooting. And then, one day, he also remembered Brian's voice during the CPR.
"He was saying, `Donald don't leave me! Don't leave me, Donald!' I was telling him, `I'm not going to leave you. I'm not going to leave you.' But he couldn't remember me saying that. Obviously, the words weren't coming out."
The McMullins, 25-year-old fraternal twins, won't be back on the street. Donald lost some peripheral vision from the bullet that nicked his optic nerve before stopping at the back of his skull. He can't drive.
Brian said he couldn't return to patrol duty without Donald. He works in victim assistance, where Donald plans to join him on limited duty. A starting date has not been approved yet by the police commissioner, spokeswoman Sgt. Theresa Young said.
His new job will involve counseling victims, trying to get their medical expenses reimbursed, re-cov-er-ing money lost to robbers and referring people to agencies that can help them.
It's a far cry from the adrenalin surge of climbing rooftops to chase burglars or drug dealers, the excitement that drew Brian and Donald into police work. But Brian said it's rewarding and, because of his own ordeal after seeing his brother shot, he can relate to the victims' experiences.
"I know what they're talking about," he said.
And there's always the slim hope that one day Donald's full vision will return.
"As long as I'm still in the police department," Donald said, "I'll go straight back on the street."