NORTON, Va. (WJHL) – After a tearful reception, Chief James Lane of the Norton Police Department thanked the community and assured them that he intended to return to work as quickly as possible.
“May the 7th will not define me,” said Chief Lane. “I will be back to work, I look forward to returning back to work to serve the citizen of Norton and the public, and I love each of you. I thank you for your support, you’ll never know how far that your support has helped to carry me.”
You can watch News Channel 11’s live stream of Lane’s departure below:
Chief Lane has been in recovery for weeks after a shooting on May 7. He was taken to Johnson City Medical Center after the shooting then transferred to Norton Community Hospital for rehabilitation.
An external investigation into the shooting by the Commonwealth’s Attorney for Wise County determined that Lane and other officers were justified in their actions, and elected to press no charges.
Lane exited the hospital around 1 p.m. on Friday in a wheelchair before exchanging words with Commonwealth’s Attorney Chuck Slemp and members of law enforcement gathered around the rear exit of the building.
Chief Lane then entered a vehicle, and his departure was preceded by a police escort.
Lane and other officers are on medical leave and will remain off duty until investigations into the incident have ended.
Law enforcement agencies from across the region came out Friday morning in support of Chief James Lane and his recovery.
“He’s blessed to be here but he’s such a great guy and he did it the way you’ve trained to do and fought until the end. He’s encouraging to me the way he handled it and did what he did,” said Scott County Sheriff, Jeff Edds.
Dickenson County Sheriff, Jeremy Fleming said what happened to Chief Lane is a painful reminder of just how dangerous the job really is.
“It reminds you how important it is to tell your loved ones every day that you love them before you put your uniform on and your vest on to go to work,” said Fleming.
With a smile on his face and tears in his eyes, Chief Lane emerged through the doors of the Norton Ballad Health facility to a sea of overwhelming support. He spoke to the public for the first time since being shot simply stating “You will never know how far that your support has helped carry me through this process, up to now. I know it will continue as I continue on the road to recovery,” Lane said.
A parade of flashing lights and first responders took place through downtown Norton.
Hunter Johnson, a Wise County resident who said Lane has been his role model since he was four years old, made Lane a personalized ‘back the blue’ flag and shared his emotional message for the chief.
“James, buddy. You know that we love you and it’s a long way to recovery but you’ll do it, you’re a fighter,” said Johnson.
While it will be a long road to full recovery, Lane said he’s ready for it. “May the 7th will not define me. I will be back to work and I look forward to returning back to work,” he said.
“He has said multiple times I can’t wait to get back to work and that’s a testament to him and his servant’s heart. He wants to be back at work and serving his community. That’s what he does and what he loves to do,” said the Vice President of Ballad Health Wise, Dickenson & Lee Counties, Shannon Showalter.