Marietta police officer Joe Jenkins had worked a long day, but couldn’t ignore the chatter on the scanner that a man had been shot and left for dead in a parking lot.
Despite it being 3 a.m. on a Sunday in April of last year, Jenkins didn’t hesitate to jump back into the fray and make his way to the scene of the shooting. The cop arrived to find an unresponsive man bleeding profusely from his right thigh.
Without thinking, Jenkins, an active member of the United States Marine Corps, pulled out a piece of fabric from a pouch on his bullet proof vest and applied a tourniquet to the man’s leg. Jenkins’ swift actions not only saved the shooting victim’s life, but drew the attention of his superiors.
Marietta Police Chief Dan Flynn recognized Jenkins with the department’s Medal of Meritorious Service award. The recognition comes weeks before the officer is set to deploy with the military to an undisclosed location.
The officer told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he knew from what he heard through 911 dispatchers that “it could have been a life or death situation.”
After applying the tourniquet, Jenkins said he assessed the victim’s vitals and tried to prevent him from going into shock. Emergency services crews transported the male, identified as Vicente Santos, to WellStar Kennestone Hospital. Jenkins was certain his efforts would be useless, as the blood loss at the scene was significant.
However, doctors informed Jenkins that Santos would live to see another day, and this his actions played a major role in the victim’s prognosis.
“I did everything I could, hoping that something good came out of it,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins, a southern California native who has been with the Marietta Police Department for more than six years, said the training he’s received with the agency as well as his service with the Marines, automatically kicked in when he responded to the call. That training and his ability to remain calm under pressure, said Marietta police spokesperson Chuck McPhilamy, is what saved Santos’ life.
“We’re incredibly lucky and proud to have several members with military service actively working as officers within the department,” McPhilamy said.
Santos, 31, told the AJC he was in the parking lot of his apartment complex on Chestnut Hill Road when he was struck in the head with what he believed to be a gun and then shot.
Santos said he doesn’t recall much after that, said he woke up several hours later in the hospital. Since the shooting, Santos said he still has pain in his leg, and he’s unable to do the construction work he once did for a living. He now works as a landscaper to help support his family, which includes two children.
He said he “appreciated” Jenkins’ quick response following the shooting, and he hopes detectives continue to work the case to bring the perpetrators to justice.
“If they did that to me, they will do it to more people,” he said.
Jenkins said saving Santos’ life was a team effort, and the men and women who serve as officers, firefighters, EMTs and professionals at the hospital also played an important role in the case.
“I’m very proud to be working for the city of Marietta and the Marietta Police Department,” he said.
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