WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — A Wichita police officer shot several times last year has finally recovered enough to return to the streets.
Officer Kyle Mellard was one of three Wichita Police Department employees honored during a ceremony at Wichita City Hall on Monday. The WPD presented him with a plaque naming him the 2022 Officer of the Year.
But police say it was only partly because of Mellard being shot in the line of duty on June 19, 2021. It was also because of his courage and resilience after the shooting.
After he was shot in both legs and the face, his original goal was to live.
“I regained consciousness on the ground and knew I was in trouble, and I was no longer fighting the suspect. I was in a different fight. I was fighting for my life at that point,” Mellard said.
After surviving, he wanted to get back home to his family. But instead, he spent several weeks in the hospital and rehabilitation.
“It was another month before I was able to go home and be with my girls and my wife,” he said.
But Mellard said he wanted more than that. He wanted to get back to work full-time as a patrol officer.
He told KSN News why returning to patrol was so important to him.
“Passion. I love this job,” he said. “And I can’t thank the community within the department and the community of Wichita itself for the amount of outreach and support that they’ve provided me throughout this whole experience. And actions speak louder than words, and I want to return to my job to serve my community and to thank them for what they did for me and my family in our time of need.”
Returning to the streets did not happen as quickly as he wanted.
“I’ve learned a lot about myself,” Mellard said. “I used to consider myself a pretty patient individual, but I didn’t know what patience was until this happened.”
Less than a year after being shot, he returned to light-capacity work in May. The WPD assigned him to the Crimes Against Persons Bureau, where he conducted criminal investigations, including aggravated battery and aggravated assault.
Sgt. Aaron Moses, who has been his supervisor, nominated Mellard for the Officer of the Year award. He said Mellard has had 14 surgeries since being shot, including jaw replacement, several leg surgeries, and surgery to fix a broken neck. Moses said Mellard maintains a full caseload despite having physical therapy three times a week and doctors’ appointments.
“It’s been a great joy to supervise you directly,” Moses said to Mellard during the awards ceremony. “You are an example of the strength and courage that every police officer should have. You’re an example to all of us who work with you.”
“I am happy to say Officer Mellard reached his goal of returning to patrol just a couple of weeks ago,” Moses said.
“I’m honored. I’m humbled,” Mellard said about receiving the award. “It’s a great honor to be recognized for the amount of work I’ve put in to get back to the streets and to full duties.”
The WPD awards ceremony also recognized Detective Ken Davis as the 2022 Detective of the Year and Alex Stadler as the 2022 Non-Sworn Employee of the Year.