A Chattanooga Police officer who was shot in the face on July 23 when he confronted a man carrying a gun on the parking lot of a Nashville sports bar was honored Tuesday by members of the Exchange Club of Chattanooga.
“Thank you so much,” said Dennis Norwood, Region 6 vice president of the National Exchange Club, before presenting Officer Lydell Blue with the organization’s highest honor, the prestigious Blue and Gold Award.
The officer said he was accepting the award on behalf of all Chattanooga Police officers.
“To me, it wasn’t a big deal,” Officer Blue said, wiping away tears, when his turn to speak arrived. “The support that everyone has given me has made this so much easier. I want to thank everybody for making it easier for me . . . I’m really anxious to get back out there and do my job.”
Officer Blue, now 26, first made news as a star football player at Soddy-Daisy High School, and later when he continued playing the sport at Carson-Newman University. He considered a career as a pro football player, but returned to Hamilton County and joined the police department instead.
Tuesday, he won high praise from his superiors.
“This is an officer who loves his job and loves the people around him,” Chattanooga Police Chief Steve Parks told Exchange Club members.
The man charged with shooting Officer Blue – Quartez Hines, 26, of Antioch – is currently in custody in Nashville, awaiting grand jury action. He has also been charged in the March 30, 2005, shooting death of Garion McGlothen in another Nashville area parking lot.
On July 23, Officer Blue and other officers traveled to Nashville to participate in a softball tournament. That night, when Officer Blue reportedly was acting as designated driver, he was shot in the face outside Bailey’s Sports Grille and Bar in Antioch.
Officer Blue, accompanied by about a dozen fellow officers, traveled to Nashville on Aug. 7 to testify during Hines’ preliminary hearing.
During his testimony, Officer Blue said he observed a small altercation in the parking lot in which Hines was involved.
“It wasn’t anything that alarmed me,” Officer Blue said of the commotion. “But that’s when I noticed the defendant was holding a gun behind his back . . . As soon as I noticed the gun, he started walking toward our vehicle. There was no reason for him to be approaching my vehicle with a gun.”
Officer Blue testified that he thought he and his friends were about to be robbed so he took out his service weapon and badge, got out of the car, identified himself as a Chattanooga Police officer, and ordered Hines to drop his weapon.
He said Hines lowered his gun but did not let go of it.
Officer Blue said he was turning toward Hines’ companion, who was also approaching the car, when Hines raised his arm and fired, hitting him in the left jaw.
Officer Blue was taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center where he underwent surgery and then spent four days in intensive care.
Before returning home to Chattanooga, Officer Blue gave Metro Police a positive ID of the man who shot him.
Officer Blue returned to work on Aug. 15 at the Chattanooga Police department, where he is assigned to light duty during his recuperation.