Hawks still battles for recovery from 2008 shooting
Wounded Capac Police Chief's contract to expire Jan. 20
January 06, 2010CAPAC — For the past year and a half, Ray Hawks' job has been to recover. The police chief, shot and seriously injured in April 2008, has been battling to regain his
strength and mobility ever since. This fall doctors gave him the go ahead to head back to the basketball court...as an assistant coach with Capac's varsity team.
"I really enjoy it," the 65 year-old said of helping out on the sidelines. He was a standout player for Capac back in the 1960s.
"My doctors told me 'do something you love.' They said 'it will help with your rehabilitation.'"
Still, Hawks said he thinks a lot about returning to his law enforcement job.
"I'd love to get back to work and see all the people again but my recovery has slowed down," he said.
He said he still can't drive and relies on a cane to get around. Ray's wife Vickie is his constant companion, even traveling with him and the basketball team to every game.
"She's been my saint," he added.
With Hawks' employment contract due to expire on Jan. 20, his health is no doubt on the mind of village officials who must decide to renew his agreement or seek a permanent replacement. Rich Zavislak is the current interim chief.
"I can't blame them either way," Hawks said of their decision.
Besides his physical limitations, Hawks said his cognitive skills are still on the mend.
"My therapist says I'm at 65 to 70 percent," he said.
"There's no way I could work that way."
Hawks became Capac's chief in 2002. He and the village agreed upon another full-time, four year deal in Jan. 2006.
He was on duty in April 2008, attempting to have a vehicle towed from a William G. Drive residence, when the car's owner, Donald Burke, shot Hawks once with a 22-caliber rifle.
Hawks suffered internal injuries, underwent several surgeries and spent 17 days in an induced coma at Port Huron Hospital.
"Here I was healthy one second and almost dead the next," Hawks said recalling the incident.
Sheriff Deputy Tim O'Boyle, coming to assist Hawks on scene, was grazed by one of Burke's shots but not seriously injured. Mike Thorpe's tow truck took several shots too but Thorpe wasn't hit.
Last October, a jury found Burke guilty on three counts of assault with attempt to murder. The 52 year-old was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Four officers have served as interim chief since the shooting—Don Tillery, Roger Bartram, Steve Riebel and Zavislak.
Zavislak is a part-time employee. His contract with the village expires Jan. 27.
Maria Brown joined the Tri-City Times staff in 2003, the same year she earned a bachelor's degree in English from Calvin College. Born and raised in Imlay City, she now resides north of Capac where she enjoys working on the farm, gardening and reading.