Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Hero cop watches speech with First Lady

Like millions of other Americans, Philadelphia Highway Patrol Officer Richard Decoatsworth watched President Obama's historic economic address earlier tonight.

Hero cop watches speech with First Lady

Like millions of other Americans, Philadelphia Highway Patrol Officer Richard Decoatsworth watched President Obama’s historic economic address earlier tonight.
Unlike millions of other Americans, however, Decoatsworth shared an armrest for the evening with First Lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden.
Decoatsworth was among 24 special guests — including governors, mayors and wounded war veterans — who sat in the First Lady’s box, perched above the congressional chambers.
The primo seat was a huge honor for the 23-year-old cop, who received an unexpected invitation on Monday from Vice President Joe Biden’s office to attend Obama’s speech.
Decoatsworth (pictured at Crime Commission award ceremony) earned the invitation for the staggering bravery he showed on Sept. 24, 2007, when he suffered a shotgun blast to the face during a traffic stop in Southwest Philadelphia, according to a White House press release.
Decoatsworth, who was just a rookie cop at the time, managed to chase after the suspect and relay a detailed description over his radio before he finally collapsed to the ground in a bloody heap.
The gunman, Antonio Coulter, was captured that day and later sentenced to 36 to 72 years in prison. Decoatsworth returned to the force several months later.
Highway Patrol Capt. Michael Cochrane said that Vice President Biden had apparently followed stories about Decoatsworth’s injury and recovery on the Internet. Still, no one expected the young officer to end up sitting next to the First Lady.
“It was short notice, that’s for sure,” said Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey. “It’s a great opportunity for him to be in the chambers of the House and actually see the address as it takes place.”
Decoatsworth, who could not be reached by phone, is expected to return home tomorrow.

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