By Rebecca Hertz
Fort Hood Herald
When Fort Hood police officer Larry "Ski" Kuczenski responded to a report of a shoplifting incident at the Warrior Way Post Exchange at 4:10 p.m. Aug. 28, he expected it was a routine call.
But this time was different, resulting in his receiving a lacerated left ear and multiple bruises and severe abrasions that will ultimately keep him at home recuperating for two weeks.
Wincing and still moving slowly from his injuries, Kuczenski detailed the incident.
The officer received a report of a husband and a wife with a young child shoplifting at the Warrior Way Post Exchange. He waited for backup to get there before escorting the husband to his car.
The man had given his permission for the car to be searched and said that his child was in need of medication, and he needed to get the child home.
When the car was searched, the officer found merchandise that belonged to the Warrior Way store. When the man was told to open the trunk, the suspect entered the vehicle. The officer attempted to pull him out when the man started the car and put it in drive.
The car was parked next to one of the cart returns. When the car pulled out, the officer was pinned between the suspect and the car door and dragged about 65 feet. Kuczenski said he feels certain the driver was aware that he was pinned and being dragged.
"He did exactly what he was trained to do," Lt. Ed Nunez said. "He subdued the individual, but was lodged between the door and the individual."
Normally, shoplifting calls are not difficult. The officer responds, picks up the suspect, completes the necessary paperwork and it is finished, Kuczenski said.
"You never know what's going through people's minds. He panicked because I think he realized he really was in trouble," Kuczenski said. "Supposedly, he was worried about his child who was about 1½ years old, and if that was the case he had that going in his mind."
Five or six customers tried to come to his aid, but they were kept back by a security officer. The police department finally found the suspect, Kuczenski said. He was taken to Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center by ambulance and his wife was notified of the incident.
"It was scary," Annjeanette Kuczenski said. "It's the first time I ever got the 'wife' call."
She said it is surprising that he wasn't hurt worse than he was. Nunez stayed with Annjeanette the entire time her husband was being treated and never left her side.
"I arrived after the EMTs arrived and stayed with him the entire time to assure him he would receive medical attention," Nunez said. "She wasn't familiar with the military system. I let her know we were there for them."
There has been an outpouring of concern from the police department. Nunez said that the department focuses on the health and welfare of officers, staff and their families.
"The response I have gotten from my department has been 100 percent positive," Kuczenski said. "They really do care about their officers. We probably have the most compassionate and caring officers out of any department. We all take care of each other."
The suspect was charged with two felonies including aggravated assault to a police officer, and the woman was charged as an accessory to shoplifting, according to Kuczenski.
"This is part of the job, but I will probably be a little more cautious on the next round. Sometimes it just goes with the territory," Kuczenski said. "The biggest thing for me is to get back on the road and back to taking care of my people."