Officer Rhonda Ward speaks at a press conference Thursday. Officer Julius Givens is to the right. | Provided
“I was just trying to focus to get him to the hospital because that was the main goal,” Officer Rhonda Ward said Thursday. “It was, ‘Whoa.’ It was a traumatic experience.”
When the two officers got to the scene of a shooting earlier this week, they quickly realized if the victim — a 13-year-old boy — was going to live, they had to act quickly.
So instead of waiting for an ambulance, they jumped in their squad car and raced the boy to the hospital — where he was treated for his wounds. He is expected to recover.
The two officers, Rhonda Ward and Julius Givens, recounted the harrowing tale Thursday at a press conference outside the Fourth District headquarters.
“Office Ward and I have been to plenty of shootings but that dynamic changes when they’re a child,” Givens said. “As soon as we arrived on scene, the first thing we realized is how young he is. He is all but a boy.”
“Due to his injuries, we knew that time was of the essence,” Givens said.
Swaysee Rankin (left) was critically wounded in a shooting Monday, six months after he helped save the life of his close friend La’Mya Sparks (right) in another shooting.
The two were searching for a vehicle potentially involved in a report from a ShotSpotter Monday night when a call came about a shooting victim. Police said earlier in the week that the 13-year-old boy and his 14-year-old cousin were walking on the 8200 block of South Coles Avenue around 9:30 p.m. when someone in a car began shooting.
The two officers were rerouted, and eventually saw “a young man waving his hands, saying he was shot,” Givens said.
Givens and Ward jumped out of their car to render aid, but soon realized if they didn’t act fast enough the boy — who they later learned was Swaysee Rankin — would probably die. They decided it was best to take him to the hospital themselves instead of waiting for paramedics.
The two officers carried the boy about 150 feet back to their squad car, where Givens got into the backseat with Swaysee, who was going in and out of consciousness. Givens said he started asking the boy questions to keep him engaged — his name, birthday, mother’s name and what his plans were for the weekend.
Meanwhile, Ward took the wheel and sped to Comer Children’s Hospital while another squad provided an escort.
“I was just trying to focus to get him to the hospital because that was the main goal,” Ward said. “It was, ‘Whoa.’ It was a traumatic experience.”
Police said Swaysee was stuck in his back and abdomen and his cousin suffered gunshot wounds to his chest and abdomen.
As it turns out, Swaysee was wounded just a block from where he rendered aid to his 10-year-old friend La’Maya Sparks, who was shot six months ago.
Ashley Jackson, Swaysee’s mother, credited the two officers for saving the teen’s life.
“The police transported him in the police vehicle instead of waiting for EMS, which ultimately saved his life,” Jackson said Tuesday. “So I feel like my baby was a hero to somebody, and somebody returned the favor.”