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  • Writer's pictureMegan Kircher

JHAP Gear Launches Fundraising Shirt for Officer Scanlan

So the original incident happened the morning of Saturday September 3, 2016 at about 0830. A cowardly suspect who I won't name entered the lobby of the jail saying he wanted to visit someone and acting irrational. When Correctional Officer Davila confronted him he resisted arrest. She called for assistance. The suspect then produced a firearm and he began shooting. He shot Correctional Officer Davila in the face area of her head. The responding Officers heard the shots being fired and continued going to help even though they did not have firearms. One of the Correctional Officers that arrived on scene was Officer Toamalama Scanlan. He rushed to assist Officer Davala and fought with the suspect. Officer Scanlan was then shot in the head by the suspect. A Lieutenant arrived on scene and began firing at the suspect. The suspect retreated and later surrendered to authorities after the two injured correctional officers were rescued from the lobby of the jail by Fresno County Sheriff's Deputies and Fresno Police Officers that arrived on scene.

Both Davila and Scanlan were severely injured. Thankfully, Officer Davila was able to recover and was later released from the hospital. Officer Scanlan suffered serious trauma to his brain and underwent surgery. He was then transported to San Francisco for treatment, then to a special advanced care facility in Houston, Texas that specializes in recovery of these types of serious injuries. His 19 year old daughter went with him to stay with him 24/7 as his wife stayed in Fresno to look after the other 5 children. The family rotates through visits to Houston as they can. He is making progress in his recovery. He is able to track with his eyes and even has a bit of a sense of our humor with his therapists.

I saw the ABC 30 update story about Officer Scanlan by Corrin Hoggard on May 25, 2017. I have never met Officer Scanlan and do not personally know him. In learning about him, I realized we had things in common. We both work at the same organization, but our paths have never crossed. Officer Scanlan played football at Fresno State after I did. He was a hard worker and walked his way onto the team. This is no easy task. He was described as a fair Officer who treated inmates fairly and with respect. I was told he would actually sing to unruly inmates to get them to calm down so they wouldn't get injured or force used on them. Even former inmates commented on his Facebook page expressing their sorrow because he is a "good man".

He is a family man and has 5 children with his wife Tepa. He was a volunteer defensive line coach for the Fresno Christian football team. He is a good man, better than me. A great role model in the community and a public servant who actually gives back to the community. He displayed true courage on that day in September. Who has his back for that? Then it hit me.... Who is looking out for his family? What is being done for them. As a small business owner I knew I needed to do something for him and his family.

I met with a Captain at my agency. I was told his medical bills were being covered. No one was sure what else was being done. There had been previous fund raisers and shirt sales, but the money generated has run out. There is a Go Fund me account that I looked at but its performance wasn't great. I couldn't imagine how this is weighing on his family. What must they be going through? I was angry that this had happened to both Officers, but angry that Officer Scanlan was still dealing with such a tremendous injury. I also learned that the state of California does not recognize correctional officers in the same light as other peace officers. This severely limits benefits offered in situations like this. That angered me.

I thought, there has to be something I can do to get the word out and get people behind this man. That's when I decided I would do what I know...make a t-shirt for him. It would represent aspects of his life, what little I learned about him. It would have a sheriff badge and his ID number on the front chest. "Scanlan" and his football number at Fresno State, 99, would be displayed on back of the shirt, along with the phrase "Never stop fighting!" On the right sleeve I would place the Samoan symbol for strength and the phrase "Fa'amalosi Ma Taumafia" in Samoan. Officer Scanlan's wife Tepa explained that this meant "Keep fighting and don't give up!" I received the family's blessing along with approval from Sheriff Mimms. I am donating more than half of the proceeds from the shirt sales directly to the Scanlan family. My hope is to raise awareness for Officer Scanlan so his heroic deeds are not forgotten, and to raise money for his family and children so we keep them in our hearts.

I'm always reminded how law enforcement is a family, a brotherhood. So will we take care of our brother? If we don't, who will? I know that if something like this happened to me, I sure would want my brothers and sisters to step up and take care of my family. So why don't we do it for him? This is one of those moments in time where WE can actually make a difference and not have to depend on any one else to do it! So let's do this. Please buy a shirt today (or two) and spread the word to everyone you know. I would like every correctional officer, cop, firefighter, soldier, marine, sailor, airman, athlete, football player, father, mother, sister, daughter, brother, and son to buy these Scanlan shirts and pass it on to even more people. Let's do something positive and make a difference for this family so they aren't left behind.

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