For the record, if someone harms me in any way, I’d like Eric Bryant to be the responding officer.
This officer was shot at during a traffic stop six years ago. With shards of glass in his eyes, not knowing if he’d been struck by a bullet, he pursued the suspect. That’s the instinct of a good cop, and it’s a characteristic that not many people have.
Ultimately the police caught the shooter – Travis Bluntson – who last week was convicted and sentenced to 99 years in prison. Even though Bluntson fled his wrecked-out vehicle after the shooting, they tracked him down. They found him because when Officer Bryant pulled him over, he had the foresight to get the guy’s cell phone number. They were able to ping the phone and locate him in a Wharton hotel room.
It took the Austin County District Attorney’s Office six years to prosecute, and I can’t really speculate on why it took so long. There were other charges pending; Bluntson was already in jail for other felonies; maybe they just needed some time to put together their case. I think six years is too long but I’ve never been a prosecutor, an attorney or a law enforcement officer and I don’t have in-depth knowledge of what went on behind the scenes over those six years. The good news is it did go to court and they did get a conviction and they did get the maximum sentence.
Bryant testified in the trial, looked Bluntson in the eye and stood his ground when questioned.
Defense attorneys poked at him a little bit about how he could possibly recognize that the person in the courtroom was the same man who shot at him. It was dark and the shooter had dark skin.
“I had a flashlight,” Bryant said. “I’m going to remember someone who tried to shoot and kill me.”
He didn’t waver. He was courageous, and I think he deserves to be commended for it.
When I sat down with Bryant the day after the conviction, I asked him if he thought he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. He said no, and added that the reason he returned to work immediately is because of the brotherhood of officers who showed up for him. Chris Hudson, now a Sealy Police Department captain, was working an off-duty security job, heard about the shooting on the radio and showed up for his brother, even though he didn’t have a bullet-proof vest. Chief Jay Reeves, who also had been shot at in the line of duty a few years prior, counseled him. When Bluntson bonded out four days after his capture, Sealy PD officers passed around a sign-up sheet volunteering to sit outside Bryant’s home to ensure that no attempts of violence were made against him or his family.
People think that attempts on the lives of police officers or even attempts on the lives of regular ol’ civilians don’t happen in Sealy, Texas. It can happen anywhere, to anyone.
When an officer pulls you over, they don’t know who they’re dealing with. I appreciate that our men and women in blue continue to do the right thing and do their jobs to get the bad guys and girls off the street.
Sealy is a safer community because of Officer Eric Bryant.
April Towery is the managing editor of The Sealy News. She can be reached at 979-885-3562 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.