INDIANAPOLIS — The last six months have been filled with challenges, triumphs and new life lessons for Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Officer Thomas “Tommy” Mangan and his wife, Emory Mangan.
Several weeks into his field training, on Feb. 27, Tommy was responding to a call with other IMPD officers in Fountain Square, chasing a suspect that fled on foot, when he was injured in a shooting. Tommy had been struck in the neck, causing significant damage to his voice box and Adam’s apple.
“It’s been quite the ride and it’s great to be talking again and getting back into more normal — if there is ever a normal — life activities,” said Tommy.
“He’s regained his voice; It is different, he’ll never be able to be very loud because he doesn’t have vocal chords, but we’re just so thankful the lord’s given him his voice back,” Emory added.
The shooting has served as a reminder that no one call is routine in law enforcement and what happens on a run can change countless lives in the blink of an eye.
“We’ve shed a lot of tears together, it’s been a lot of grieving, it’s been challenging, obviously, the hardest thing that we’ve ever faced in our lives,” said Emory.
Through many tears, including ones shed out of sadness, and others out of joy, Tommy and Emory said they’ve found their source of strength in many places, including their two greatest, their love for each other and their faith.
“We can go through the difficult times with joy because we know, no matter what is in the future, ultimately God is with us and what happens is for our good,” said Tommy.
“God knows what we need and prepares us for what’s going to come about and he knew I’d need somebody really strong by my side and I’m really glad that’s Emory,” he added.
In sharing their story, Emory said they are hoping to remind people of this: “Even in the midst of suffering, there is purpose.”
“When you’re in the middle of it and the days are so dark and hard, it can be easy to lose sight of why this is happening,” added Emory, “We may never fully know why this happened, but it’s given us opportunity to share the love of God with other people.”
On March 11th, dozens of IMPD officers, medical staff and first responders lined the hallways of the hospital as Tommy was discharged. That day marked the starting line of his journey towards healing.
“He keeps getting stronger every day. We started going back to the gym in July and lifting some weights, trying to put some weight back on. When we first got home, he could barely walk to the bathroom, he was just so weak,” said Emory.
“When it first happened, we didn’t know if he had brain damage, if he would ever be able to have his trach out, ever be able to have his feeding tube out,” said Emory. “There were a lot of hard truths we were facing and a lot of unknowns.”
Before Tommy re-gained his strength back to speak, Emory said the couple would communicate through sign language, writing notes and reading lips. She recalls one time specifically that proved to them, they already had everything they needed, and more.
“I just remember one time we were talking; I was getting a lot better at reading lips — so he could just — it was so fun. Instead of having to write, he could just mouth the words and I was understanding him,” she explained. “We both were just saying, if this is how the rest of our life is, it’s really good. We get to be together. We had that peace then and there. As more progress is made, it feels like an extra gift.”
Although they’ve celebrated new milestones and triumphs, the road to recovery hasn’t always been a walk in the park. The couple said, through the challenges, their love has grown even deeper than they knew it could.
“We’ve learned how to love each other better. It hasn’t always been easy. We’ve been through a lot of hard times and miscommunications, as you can imagine when he couldn’t talk and just being exhausted and overwhelmed and yet, the Lord has given us the grace to just keep loving one another and our love has grown through this.”
Tommy and Emory’s strength to navigate the recovery process has also come from their family, friends, brothers and sisters in blue, and the overwhelming support from community members, including countless strangers.
“We’re very grateful for all of the support,” said Tommy.
Hundreds of handwritten cards from people of all ages have offered encouragement and support in Tommy’s recovery. The couple said that support has been more appreciated than words than express.
“People don’t just send letters anymore, so we were so overwhelmed by how many people took the time to send letters and go get a card and write us a note and put it in the mail. It’s very thoughtful,” Emory shared.
As they navigate through some of the still unknowns, like what the future may hold professionally, there is one thing for certain, that his calling still remains to the people he swore to protect and serve.
“We’re not exactly sure what the future holds as far as where he’ll end up, what he’ll do, but we’re excited about it. We talk about different options and what maybe could be a possibility, what makes him excited,” said Emory.
“I’m looking forward to serving in whatever capacity with what I’m able to do,” said Tommy.
It’s often said that scars tell a person’s story. For Tommy, his represent a story of strength, healing, and finding purpose through pain. He said he looks forward to seeing where the road takes him, but in the meantime, is preparing for another surgery in just several weeks.