Local officer was Obama's guest

February 25, 2009 4:17:54 PM PST
Philadephia police officer Richard Decoatsworth is talking about his extraordinary night in Washington, D.C. Tuesday as a guest of honor at President Obama's speech before a joint session of congress. "The first lady was there, the president was there. We shook hands, had a photo together," Ofc. Decoatsworth said. "He thanked me for my service. The first lady did as well."

The invitation came Monday. By Tuesday evening, Officer Coatsworth was sitting between Michelle Obama and Jill Biden. He had a ticket with the president's signature for a front row seat.

It was Vice-President Joe Biden who set the wheels in motion. Back in 2007, Biden was touched by the remarkable story of the rookie officer bleeding from a shotgun blast to the face, who chased his shooter for blocks until he collapsed.

Biden sent a "get well" message.

"He is a big supporter of police and firemen," Ofc. Decoatsworth said.

The soft spoken highway patrol officer said he was humbled to represent his department, which has suffered six deaths in the line of duty in the past 15 months.

Meeting the president was heady stuff.

So was talking to injured combat veterans who were also in attendance Tuesday night.

"They have been through amazing ordeals, I can't compare to what they've been through. And to see them back there, on their feet with their uniform back on, just goes to show I'm not the only one. People fight back every day," Decoatsworth said.

Antonio Coulter, the man who shot Decoatsworth, will spend up to 72 years in prison for the shooting.

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