Calif. officer nearly killed in shooting returns to job, discusses road to recovery

Michael Rokaitis spent 14 days in a coma and underwent several surgeries due to a gunshot wound from a pursuit that ended in a shootout


By Ashley Silver
Police1

MODESTO, Calif. — A Modesto police officer, who was in a coma for weeks stemming from a 2021 pursuit shootout, is one step closer to suiting up and hitting the streets again.

According to KCRA News, gang investigator Michael Rokaitis experienced life-threatening injuries when a motorcycle pursuit ended in front of a home and took a violent turn.

The motorcycle driver was arrested, but as Rokaitis and his team began searching the home that the motorcycle was parked in front of, they were ambushed.

“As we entered the last room the suspect began shooting at us," he told KCRA. "I was struck once in the vest right on my chest and another right under my vest that ended up hitting an artery and we had to get me to the hospital pretty quickly."

While fellow officers were pulling him to safety, Rokaitis only had one thought on his mind – his family.

"My biggest memories were wanting to get home to my wife and my daughter and knowing that I had a job to do that," he told the news platform.

The thought of his family encouraged Rokaitis as he faced a tough road to recovery – undergoing almost a dozen surgeries and spending 14 days in a coma. Doctors were also forced to amputate his right leg, followed by 16 months of rehab to learn to walk again.

"I don't know how [I got through it],” Rokaitis told KRCA. “It was difficult."

Last week, Rokaitis stepped into the Modesto police station with a staunch resolve. Although he is currently on desk duty, he can already feel a positive difference as he takes the next steps in his recovery process. 

"The job is different now,” he told the media outlet. "I don't know what the future holds and if you asked me in December when I was still in a wheelchair if I'd be walking around and wearing a prosthetic all day I'd think that is crazy. I just keep thinking to challenge myself every day and every week to see how much more mobility I can get."

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