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KNOXVILLE -- Knoxville Police Department Officer Norman Rickman doesn't need to wear a uniform to prove his service to the cause of justice.
His body bears the tale.
In his 19-year career, Knoxville Police Department Officer Norman Rickman has been cursed at and spit on, shoved, slugged, nearly run over and shot. He's even lost a spleen to the job. But the battle scars keep coming.
On Tuesday, this decorated lawman and Desert Storm veteran came under fi re for an unprecedented second time in his law enforcement career. He was shot at least three times in his upper body.
"This officer was just doing his job," a visibly upset Police Chief Sterling Owen IV said of Rickman soon after the shooting. "This is just outrageous."
"To be shot one time is bad enough," Mayor Bill Haslam said. "It's horribly ironic he would be shot again."
Rickman, who was rushed into emergency surgery at the University of Tennessee Medical Center following
the 2:55 p.m. shooting, was reported to be in stable condition Tuesday evening.
Owen said Rickman had been dispatched to check out the triggering of a burglar alarm at a house on Rockbridge Lane in Northwest Knoxville. As the lawman arrived, two or possibly three suspects came out of the house and at least one opened fire on Rickman, the chief said. A manhunt for the suspects was under way Tuesday night.
Rickman was not wearing his bulletproof vest. KPD officers are encouraged, but not required, to wear them.
"It was his choice," Owen said.
Rickman also was without his vest when a suspected intoxicated driver suddenly opened fire on the officer during a traffic stop on Papermill Drive in July 2001. Rickman was immediately wounded by a gunshot to the shoulder but returned fire from the ground. His assailant, 48-year-old Larry D. Lambert, killed himself after engaging in a gun battle with Rickman and Officer Jim Vichich, who came to Rickman's aid.
Rickman suffered critical wounds when the .40-caliber hollow-point bullet that struck his shoulder enlarged upon impact and traveled through his lung, diaphragm and spleen. Doctors were forced to remove the spleen to save Rickman's life.
Despite the violent encounters Rickman has endured in his career, the lawman has drawn few complaints and plenty of accolades, including being on the short list of nominees for a national "top cop" award, a KPD-awarded Purple Heart and several citations as officer of the month.
"You're not supposed to have favorites in this job, but Norman's one of the good guys," Haslam told attendees at Tuesday night's City Council meeting.
Haslam led a prayer for Rickman and encouraged residents to donate blood in his honor.
Rickman is the fi rstoffi cer under Owen's command to suffer a shooting in the line of duty.
"It's your worst dream realized," Owen said. "It's a situation where you deal with these officers every single day. You become part of the same family. To have one of them shot for no apparent reason, it's hard to accept."
Hayes Hickman contributed to this report. JamieSatterfield may be reached at 865-342-6308.