Trooper Daniel C. Harrell, of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol, has been recognized nationally for his courage and commitment during a traffic stop that quickly turned life threatening.
The American Association of State Troopers recognized Trooper Harrell’s heroic actions by naming him the 2020 Trooper of the Year for continuing to pursue a suspect after being shot twice in the face, and his commitment to keeping the citizens of Wilson County, North Carolina safe.
On January 14, 2019, Trooper Harrell had just finished a traffic stop when he noticed a vehicle improperly towing another vehicle. Trooper Harrell caught up with the vehicles and activated his blue lights and siren, the vehicles turned onto a state road before slowly pulling onto the shoulder. Trooper Harrell made contact and explained the reason for the stop to the driver of the vehicle being towed and the driver of the front vehicle, he also noticed a passenger in the front vehicle. Neither of the drivers had a driver’s license or any other form of identification. As Trooper Harrell was talking to the driver of the front vehicle he accelerated and drove off from the stop. Trooper Harrell returned to his patrol car and informed communications that he was in a chase. After travelling down the road, a short distance, the driver pulled over again, as Trooper Harrell was preparing to exit his patrol car the driver leaned out of the vehicle and opened fire on Trooper Harrell striking him twice in the face (once in the forehead and once in the cheek). Trooper Harrell immediately returned fire and the violator drove off again as the passenger jumped out of the vehicle and laid on the ground. Although he was shot and bleeding profusely from his face, Trooper Harrell continued the chase giving updates and descriptions to the Raleigh Communications. The suspect stopped to exit and disconnect the vehicle being towed where Trooper Harrell stopped a safe distance behind and engaged in gunfire with the suspect before he drove off again. The suspect drove a short distance more before making a U-Turn and colliding with Trooper Harrell’s cruiser head on disabling the patrol car.
Trooper Harrell continued to engage the suspect in gunfire before the suspect was able to drive away and then continue his flee attempt on foot.
It is because of Trooper Harrell’s perseverance and communication that the involved persons were located and arrested the night of the incident and no further persons were injured.
A presentation ceremony is will take place later this year.