When Jared Reston woke up on January 26th, 2008, he didn’t expect to be shot in the face.
An officer with Jacksonville Police Department, Jared Reston and his partner, Chris Brown, were sitting in a mall security office when loss prevention officers alerted them to a potential theft. The loss prevention officers advised they were about to detain two individuals of shoplifting. As soon as the prevention officers tried to apprehend the suspects a fight broke out. As Reston and Brown arrived on the scene, they apprehended one male, the other escaped.
Reston and Brown spotted the individual, 18-year-old Joel Abner, nearby. Once spotted, Abner began to run outside and through a six-lane highway dodging traffic. In pursuit, Reston and Brown watched him run to a nearby street and slow to walk, blending in with pedestrian traffic. Not fooled by Abner’s attempt to blend in, Reston closed the gap and drew his TASER. Abner stopped, put his hands up and slowly backed up creating distance between Reston. Abner slowly turned to run, and Reston’s TASER malfunctioned. The pursuit continued.
Tired and nowhere left to run, Abner found himself at the top embankment of a four-foot-deep dry retention pond. Reston grabbed Abner by the back of his black hooded sweatshirt. Abner spun, breaking Reston’s grip. “As soon as we go face to face, I grab him by his head and pull him in close and give knee strikes to his thigh to bring him down,” says Reston.
As soon as Reston went to bring Abner down he felt a hard blow to his face. “I was sitting there thinking that he really punched me hard, but get yourself together and get back in the fight,” says Reston. “But when I came to rest I realized it was more than a punch as my teeth were laying flat in my mouth and my jaw was collapsed upon itself.” Reston realized he had been shot through the jaw. Looking up, Reston observed Abner standing over him and shooting at him with a Glock directly into his chest. Abner started to walk away, turning to fire more rounds at Reston.
Disoriented and stunned, Reston’s will to survive kicked in. “I sat up and drew my pistol, and just that motion of me sitting up was enough to alert him that I was not dead,” says Reston. Abner began walking back to Reston to finish him off, but this time Reston was able to shoot back. With Abner approaching and shooting at him, Reston fired with one hand while his other hand propped him up. Abner was hit, but that didn’t stop his approach. Reston made it to one knee and continued to engage. Abner eventually fell and Reston pulled Abner’s body into his chest. “I grabbed him and pulled him to the side,” says Reston, “and put my pistol to his head and put three close quarter hits in his head.” Abner went limp.
Abner fired 12 shots in total, with 7 shots striking Reston. Reston was hit in the jaw, elbow, hip, thigh, and three rounds in the chest to his body armor. Reston had fired 14 rounds. “That’s how law enforcement works,” say Reston, “it can go from a shoplifting foot chase to full-on fighting for your life just like that.”
Among the many awards and recognition’s Det. Jared Reston received for his heroic actions that day: The State of Florida Law Enforcement Officer of the Year; the National Police Hall of Fame and Museum National Officer of the Year; and Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Officer of the Year. On the 22nd of September 2010, Reston was awarded The Medal of Valor by Vice President Biden.
Reston just retired from the Jacksonville Police Department. He now teaches marksmanship and defensive tactics throughout the country. To view his upcoming courses, click HERE