Officer honored for saving shooting victim

Sean C Morgan

Sweet Home Police Officer Sean Potter has received a Letter of Commendation for saving a life in 2018.

Department Sgt. Ryan Cummings made the presentation on Dec. 17.

“He was in the right place at the right time,” said Police Chief Jeff Lynn of Potter’s response to a gunshot injury. “He has a lot of his medical training (from his military service). He’s always out there. This isn’t the first life-saving award or recognition he’s gotten.”

A “fantastic” and strong police officer, Potter is one of several Sweet Home graduates to return to the community where he grew up, Lynn said. He is extremely active and involved, and “we’re extremely impressed with his growth as an officer.”

Potter, 27, became a police officer 3½ years ago after serving as an infantry medic in the U.S. Army, which included deployment to Afghanistan.

Potter said he was parked on the east side of Circle K on Sept. 9.

“I’d seen this guy go into the store,” Potter said. “I watched him come back out. I few seconds later I heard a gunshot.”

Potter immediately pulled his car around behind the man’s vehicle; he could hear him screaming.

Potter realized the man had shot himself and saw a very large amount of blood coming out of the man’s leg. Determining there was no threat, he immediately called for medics and grabbed a tourniquet.

Based on his training, he carries an extra tourniquet, he said. Normally, officers anticipate using them on other officers. He also lobbied Lynn to purchase trauma kits for patrol cars. The aid kit includes pressure bandages, trauma scissors for cutting clothing and chest seals for gunshot wounds.

Potter said the man had been shot behind his left knee. An artery runs through the area, and he was concerned that the artery had been hit or nicked, based on the quantity and color of the blood.

The tourniquet stopped the bleeding, he said. He cut the pant leg and applied a pressure bandage.

In conversations with the lead medic, police department officials determined that Potter’s actions were crucial to the positive outcome of the situation.

The man, who had a valid concealed handgun license, had the gun in his waistband and not in a holster, Lynn said in September. The man said he adjusted his pants and the gun went off. Medics transported the man to Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital for treatment.

Cummings spoke with the man later, he said, and the victim was thankful for Potter’s actions and, in his opinion, did not believe he would have lived through the situation if Potter had not been there to provide immediate trauma care.

No criminal case was connected to the incident.