County Police Officer, Paralyzed in 2003 Shooting, Dies
Governor orders flags flown at half-staff in tribute to Officer Kyle Olinger
Image via Flickr: Austin Kirk (CC BY 2.0)
A Montgomery County police officer shot during a traffic stop in 2003 died from his injuries last week, and flags across the state were lowered to half-staff on Monday in his honor.
Officer Kyle Olinger was paralyzed more than 15 years ago when 18-year-old Terrence Arthur Green shot him in Silver Spring. The attack sparked a gun-control debate.
Gov. Larry Hogan’s (R) office announced Monday an order for U.S. and Maryland flags to fly at half-staff until sunset on the day of interment.
“Lowering the flags is the least we can do to pay tribute to the life and memory of a true hero, Officer Kyle Olinger,” Hogan said in a statement. “Our prayers are with his family, friends, and loved ones at this time of mourning. May he rest in peace.”
Olinger died April 18. Police have yet to announce details for funeral services.
Olinger pulled over a Chrysler sedan carrying Green on Aug. 13, 2003, according to news reports.
Green reached for a gun, prompting Olinger to draw his own weapon. Green shot the officer and ran from the car.
Green was convicted by a jury in September 2004 of attempted murder, assault and using a handgun during a crime of violence, according to news reports. He was sentenced to life in prison plus 20 years.
Olinger, a former Marine, was confined to a wheelchair following the shooting and had said he was living in his “own personal hell.”
“There are things worse than death in life, and that’s paralysis,” Olinger told The Washington Post in 2005.
Olinger’s story returned to the spotlight in 2015 when former Montgomery County Police Chief J. Thomas Manger cited the incident during a rally to end gun violence in Rockville.
Manger explained Green had obtained the gun he used to shoot Olinger from a man in the District who had been trading weapons for drugs. The weapons included five firearms found at crime scenes in Maryland, New York City, Virginia and Washington, D.C.
“Common sense and the right legislation” could’ve prevented the situation and kept Olinger out of a wheelchair, Manger said at the rally.
“This is … a police officer’s worse nightmare,” said Doug Gansler, a former Montgomery County state’s attorney who prosecuted the case.
Gansler said he remembers Olinger speaking during the trial about the incident, lying on the ground with his head on the curb and only being concerned about his son. The case had ramifications well beyond Olinger and Green, serving as a tragic reminder of the potential dangers of firearms.
“They’re armed themselves and they’re trained police officers, yet they can become victims of guns as well if put in the wrong hands,” Gansler said. “… Thankfully he got all these extra years to live. While the injuries may have consumed him and taken his life, he did get an opportunity to see his family grow up.”
Charlie Wright can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org