KNOXVILLE — Knoxville Police Department Officer Norman Rickman offered a smile and a thumbs-up sign Monday afternoon as he was wheeled out of the University of Tennessee Medical Center.
Rickman, recovering from the second shooting of his 19-year career, wore a backless hospital gown as a nurse pushed his wheelchair to the curb shortly after 2 p.m. He was accompanied by an unidentified young boy holding a balloon.
Rickman's wife, Glenda, drove up in the family's Nissan Titan pickup and Rickman was helped into the cab. As Glenda Rickman drove away, the officer smiled and waved to the gathering of media representatives recording his release.
"It was a sight for sore eyes to see him getting out of there," said KPD spokesman Darrell DeBusk, who added Rickman "still has a long road to recovery."
Rickman was shot several times while responding to a burglary call at a 6600 Rockbridge Lane house on May 20. The home's owner, Johnny Martez Malone, was on probation for a 2003 cocaine-dealing conviction.
Investigators haven't said what they believe the burglars on Rockbridge were looking for.
Police said Cleven Johnson, 26, shot Rickman as he and two others — James William Murry, 32, and Tony R. Dixon, 17 — climbed out a back garage window. The first bullets dropped Rickman, and the final shot came as Johnson stood over him execution-style, court records state.
DeBusk said Rickman provided investigators with statements last week about the shooting.
Rickman, when shot, wasn't wearing a protective vest, which is optional for KPD officers.
Rickman also survived a shooting in 2001. He was not wearing a bullet-resistant vest then.
DeBusk said he didn't think Rickman would fully appreciate that he's at home recovering from his second shooting "until he's at home."
"Obviously he's here for a reason," DeBusk said.
DeBusk said Rickman "cannot get over the outpouring of support" he's received in the form of letters, phone calls and donations from the community. The officer plans to speak in the future to the media to share his story and thank the community for its support, De-Busk said.