Prestonsburg man gets 20 years for shooting officer who says ‘I forgive him’

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PRESTONSBURG, Ky. (KT) - Former Prestonsburg Police Office Adam Dixon is still living with the bullet that Robert Powers’ gun fired at him three years ago. 


That bullet forced him to retire from a job he loved, and it leaves him, still, with “tough” days. 


But he forgives Powers for shooting him.


“I forgive him. To be honest with you, I have,” Dixon said. “He made a mistake, and he survived and I survived … God was gracious enough to let me live and God was gracious enough to let him live, and because of that, I’m not going to hold any grudge or any hard feelings toward him at all. He made a mistake and he’s answering for that mistake. It wouldn’t be right of me, with my faith in God and everything else, it wouldn’t be right of me to not forgive him.”


He said he was angry after it happened, but that anger subsided.


“My entire life, I’ve been raised to forgive people that maybe do things wrong,” Dixon said. “I’m not saying what he done was right, by no means, but I’m not going to hold anything against him.” 


His comments came a few days after Powers appeared in Floyd County Circuit Court to be sentenced. 


Powers, 31, of Auxier, faced 20 years to life in prison if he was convicted on all charges in three cases pending against him, but he opted instead to plead guilty last month and accept a sentencing recommendation from Floyd County Commonwealth’s Attorney Brent Turner.


On Dec. 13, Circuit Judge Thomas Smith accepted that recommendation, sentencing Powers to serve 20 years on a second-degree assault charge which was enhanced because he is a persistent felony offender. That sentence runs concurrently, or at the same time, as two other five-year sentences and two one-year sentences Powers was given for crimes in all three felony cases filed against him. The charges include first-degree wanton endangerment, possession of a handgun by a convicted felon, first-degree fleeing/evading police and second-degree promoting contraband. 


The shooting occurred on Oct. 20, 2015. 


Dixon was patrolling U.S. 23 in Prestonsburg at 9:30 p.m. when Powers passed him, driving about 80 mph. Dixon attempted to pull Powers over, but he sped off and drove up Abbott, where he parked the car, but left it running, at a family member’s home.


Turner shared details about what happened at that home when Powers plead guilty last month. He said Dixon could hear arguing inside the home, so he decided to go inside, thinking a domestic dispute was underway.


Inside, they found Powers lying back on a bed, holding his 7-year-old brother like a shield. Dixon convinced Powers to let the child and a female leave the room, Turner reported, and then he started “saying crazy stuff.” 


“He’s saying crazy stuff, and at one point is saying, ‘Shoot me. Kill me,’ almost like this suicide-by-police thing, you know,” Turner said.


Officers used a taser on Powers, but it was ineffective, Turner said. 


“At that moment, it appeared to just anger Powers, and then he immediately grabs the pistol and starts shooting at them as he’s backing up off the bed, he just starts firing shots,” Turner said. “Adam Dixon gets hit in the chest. He’s backing out of that room, and he empties his entire gun into there, 16 shots, trying to shoot him or get away from him.” 


The standoff with police lasted for hours. 


Dixon said he thinks about that night every day. 


“Every day,” he said. “Every day … Someway, somehow, it crosses my mind every day.” 


He said the trauma surgeon told him the bullet missed his heart
“by less than a centimeter” but doctors decided it would be best to leave the bullet in his chest.


He said it’s been tough the past three years.


“Ever since the whole thing happened, it has been tough,” Dixon said. “There’s other parts with the whole situation that’s went on that I can’t talk about, but it’s been a tough three years. When I originally got shot, I stayed off work for about three months, and then I came back for about a year and tried to push through it all, and I just couldn’t do it.” 


He submitted paperwork to retire early from law enforcement in the spring and his retirement was granted in July. He started working at Copperhead Gun & Range in Prestonsburg in September, but he misses being in law enforcement. 


“Since I was a kid, it’s what I always wanted to do,” he said.

He talked about how rewarding the job was, saying, “Anytime that you can be of service to your community and try to help out someway and try to touch somebody’s life and try to change their life or save somebody’s life, it’s very rewarding to me,” he said. “I miss that part of it.” 


He said the “blessing in disguise” with all of this is that now, he can spend more time with his family.


He believes “justice was done” in this case. 


“I’m just glad I’m able to put everything behind me and move on,” said Dixon. “With everything that happened that night, his family has been through a lot. Mine’s been through a lot. It’s good that, maybe from here on, everybody can move forward.”


He talked about the problems Powers’ family has faced since the shooting. 


“In any situation, there’s always two sides to every story. With what I went through, it was a bad deal, but you know, his family went through a bad deal as well,” he said. “What he done, his family has had to endure, not only with him being jail, but everything else that has gone on, his family has had to endure that, too. At the end of the day, we’re all people, so, you know, I don’t want to think about just myself. His family’s been through a rough time with all of this as well.”


He said his ability to forgive Powers comes mostly because of his belief in God, but he noted that part of it also comes with lessons he learned while being a police officer for 13 years. 


He said, “You know, part of what you come to learn about the job is not only protecting people and serving your community, but, police officers, some way, some how, they have to be able to set an example … My faith in God is that God doesn’t want us to hold a grudge against anybody. One of the greatest lessons that he ever taught us was to forgive. I just felt, for me, the example that should be set is to forgive because I don’t make things any easier if I’m not able to move forward with the future if I’m not able to forgive somebody.”


He is thankful for all the people who have supported him with “well wishes” and prayers and for the law enforcement officials who risked their lives to help him.


“The night that it happened, a lot of people don’t know this, there was so many agencies that came to help,” Dixon said. “They were telling me that there was almost 100 police officers up there that night, and I mean, it just wasn’t our agency, it was all agencies as a whole. There was almost every trooper you could think of from Post 9, I mean, there was some of them who were even off duty, that were friends of mine that came out just to help. Fire departments, EMS personnel, we had law enforcement from Kentucky State Police, Floyd County Sheriff’s office, the Kentucky Park Ranger.”


He said that show of force was an example of the Eastern Kentucky law enforcement “brotherhood.”

“In Eastern Kentucky, you’re kind of limited on manpower. You don’t have a lot of us out here, but it’s made up for in the closeness, the brotherhood, so to speak, that all of us are a part of. We all take care of one another the best that we can,” he said.


He said he’s received messages, letters and calls from people all over the country. 


“When something like this happens, you don’t realize how many people’s lives it does touch and how it also binds you to tragedies that other people have been through,” he said. “It’s kind of unique in law enforcement in that when a tragedy like that happens, people all across the country that’s got someone connected to that line of work, will reach out to you and treat you like family.” 

 

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