Wounded Tucson police officer released from hospital

Robert Carpenter

Photo courtesy of Tucson Police Department

A Tucson police sergeant shot in the head four weeks ago went home from the hospital Wednesday.

Sgt. Robert Carpenter, 46, will continue outpatient physical therapy and rehabilitation with the goal of returning to work within six months, said Sgt. Maria Hawke, spokeswoman for for the Tucson Police Department.

“It’s literally a miracle that a month after being shot in the head and nearly losing his life, he’s able to stand on his own two feet and speak to us. That alone is amazing, and we’re extremely grateful,” Hawke said.

Carpenter and other officers were responding to a burglary call in midtown Nov. 18 when the sergeant was struck in the head by a bullet.

“He was down, the officers are dragging him to cover and he’s still giving directions” after being shot, said Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villaseñor during an interview with the Daily Star earlier this month.

When Carpenter was brought to the hospital, “doctors were shocked and very pleased” that he was conscious and able to answer questions, Villaseñor said.

Richard “Ricky” Mendoza Jr., 29, was arrested in connection with the break-in at the home where Carpenter was shot, but he has not been charged in connection with the shooting. A handgun did not turn up in a search of Mendoza’s property, according to a warrant.

Villaseñor declined to comment on the caliber or trajectory of the bullet, but did say it remains lodged in Carpenter’s brain.

The investigation into the shooting is ongoing and detectives “are still pursuing a number of different investigative leads,” Hawke said. “They are hoping, sometime after the first of the year to have a better idea of what comes next.”

Carpenter, a father of two, is a 12-year veteran of the TPD.

Contact reporter Kimberly Matas at kmatas@azstarnet.com or at 573-4191.

Senior Editor, News, Arizona Daily Star, Tucson, Az.