Journalist of the Year Portfolio

'Do something good for me'

misty

As Misty McBride walks out the door for work, her daughter, Hunter, calls out to her and says the same thing she says every morning.

Do something good for me.

The 10-year-old knows what her mom does.

She knows there’s bad guys out there. She has seen it on Misty’s face after a fight at work.

But she knows her mom’s always coming home.

Misty reminds her of it every morning before hopping in her squad car.

But on July 7, 2016, Misty didn’t know whether she was coming home or not.

Misty thinks she should’ve died that night.

But Hunter knew otherwise. She knew because her mom reminds her of it every morning.

I’m coming home.

 

It’s a humid, rainy day.

Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) officer Misty McBride is doing what she normally does — talking to civilians who ride the DART trains and taking calls from fellow officers.

A former partner has taken her squad car, so she’s riding in the backseat as two other officers sit in the front.

It’s just after three in the afternoon when Misty gets out of the car to calm down a crazy lady at 7/11 — just another day at the office for Misty McBride.

Misty’s former partner meets her a block down from 7/11 with her midnight-black squad car, and they get out to eat dinner with fellow officer Brent Thompson before the protest. Misty thought she would just have to stay until 9 p.m. tonight — that’s when she normally gets off.

But tonight is the Black Lives Matter protest right by El Centro College in downtown Dallas, and Misty and Thompson are working overtime.

"It's just protests,” Misty says on the phone to her mom. “Everything’s cool… I’ll text you when I’m leaving.”

Misty’s phone battery is down to four percent. That will be the last time she talks to a family member for the night.

Misty plugs her phone in, and tosses Thompson the car keys; he’s on the phone with his wife.

“I love you!” Misty teases Thompson.

Thompson repeats it to his wife.

 

Misty and another officer are standing on a corner close to the intersection of Elm and North Market Street.

They’re talking about the protest in front of them, comparing it to Martin Luther King Jr’s civil rights protests in the 1950’s. What’s changed, what’s the same.

“Hands up” a few protesters yell, anticipating a response.

“Don’t shoot!”

It’s a little past 9 p.m. when a shot from a Saiga AK-74 gun hurls from above.

Misty and the officer next to her jerk their heads and start looking around. Then they hear a couple more shots.

“Get out of here!” Misty yells at some of the 800 scattering protesters and bystanders around her.

Misty runs towards El Centro College — towards the gunfire. She makes it about a block before it happens.

She suddenly feels like someone punched her in the arm. Really hard.

“My arm flew and it started burning real bad.”

Misty throws herself on the ground and immediately knows something is wrong. She’s crawling away from the cemented pillars of El Centro College, but the only thing she can hear is the ring of gunshots around her.

“[The doctors] found the second [shot], because I didn't know I had gotten hit in the abdomen.”

But Misty did. While crawling desperately to save her life, Misty is shot at a second and third time. One right under her chest. And a second that strikes her radio’s battery — a quarter of an inch away from her hip.  

One of her partners runs up to her and picks her up.

"I've been hit!" Misty tells him.

He rushes her to cover, and starts putting pressure on her arm. Then, he pulls out Misty’s tourniquet and wraps it around her arm to slow the blood flow.

Misty McBride is thrown into a squad car and rushed to a nearby hospital.

“So that was, you know, a normal day,” Misty said. She can joke now.

 

It only takes eight minutes.

9 p.m.

Misty sits on the corner talking about life, talking about the times we live in, watching the protest as an officer on duty.

9:05 p.m.

The first shot rings. And within eight minutes, Misty feels that first punch, is pulled to the side and is on the way to Baylor University Medical Center.

“It could happen that easily.” She said. “I mean, [before the shootings] I had a normal day. It was a normal day.”

Just hours before the shootings, Misty was joking around with officer Brent Thompson over dinner. Riding in his car. Hearing him tell his wife he loves her.

But today, months later, she wears a metal bracelet with his name on it — honoring his death that night.

“It could happen that easily.”

Misty doesn’t get details about the shooting until she wakes up in the hospital the next morning after surgery on her arm.

She is in shock — mad, upset and angry. She cries and then screams.

“I was hurt.”

People around the hospital are giving her cards, greeting her with a thousand thank you’s, and if Misty needs something, she pretty much has it.

One man even tells her she saved his life that night.

“Everyone was calling us heroes,” Misty said. “I don't think I'm a hero. I went to work that day, and I just got shot.”

And today, total strangers thank her. They know her. They recognize her. They check in on her and her daughter.

But she doesn’t really get it.

She says she has a job just like they do — some people are firefighters. Some people are schoolteachers.

Misty can’t handle those jobs. She’d rather get shot than burned. She’d rather take 30 bullets than have to deal with 30 kids.

She’s wanted to be an officer her entire life.

And when people ask her if she’s coming back to work, she answers without a doubt in her mind.

“Yeah I’m going back!”

This surprises some people. They can’t believe she’s going back. But the idea of quitting after the shootings never even crossed Misty’s mind.

“Hell, I've grown up wanting to be a cop,” Misty said. “And I'm not going to let one person ruin my career and ruin something I've worked hard to do. It's what I want to do. I knew going in that there's always that chance. So, I'm going back. It's not going to stop me.”

 

Three months after the shootings, Misty screams in pain as she tries to lift a one-pound dumbbell.

But she knows if she wants to go back to work, she has to get through these twice-a-week physical therapy sessions.

She says each one is hell.

Just this morning she was crying by the end of the session — her arm can’t take it.

It’ll be months before Misty gets her strength back. Months before she can move out of her parents’ noisy house back to her townhouse in Garland with Hunter. Months before she can get dressed without help.

Misty wishes she ran faster or stopped sooner that night. Then, maybe, just maybe, she could’ve avoided one of the shots — maybe even saved one of the five police officers who were killed that night.

But she doesn’t dwell on the past.

Misty’s too humble to tell you herself, but if you ask her friends, they are quick to say she’s brave and strong.

And she’s determined to get through therapy if that’s what it takes to get back in the uniform someday.

For those who recognize her, she’s a hero. But if you didn’t know better, officer Misty McBride looks like your average person.

She stops by the Starbucks on Greenville and Caruth Haven every day. She laughs and jokes around with the baristas at the counter, picks up her usual order and continues with her daily activities.

And even though the events of the shooting have entirely changed Misty’s life, something remains the same. Even on a day like July 7, 2016.

Misty puts on her uniform and goes to talk to Hunter. Hunter reminds Misty to do something good for her today, and Misty gives her the promise.

It’s a promise she still hasn’t broken to this day.

A promise that survived two bullet wounds.

A promise that Hunter knew she would keep, even when Misty wasn’t so sure.

As Misty walks out the door on that humid rainy day, she promises Hunter — promises her just like any other morning.

I’m coming home.  

misty