By MARY ANN HOLLEY
With a mission of serving and honoring the needs of our defenders and first responders, the Gary Sinise Foundation has taken injured Ballwin Police Officer Michael Flamion under its wing, committing to build a new specially adapted “smart home” to allow him to live as independently as possible.
On Oct. 27, Flamion’s fellow officers stood in respect on the steps of the Ballwin Police Department with representatives of the Sinise Foundation, announcing a “call to action” to raise additional funds to build the home, estimated at a cost of $500,000 to $1 million.
The Sinise Foundation has purchased land for the home in the city of Ballwin. The exact location wasn’t disclosed.
SHOT FROM BEHIND
On July 8, Officer Flamion was shot from behind during a routine traffic stop. The bullet lodged in his neck leaving him paralyzed from the neck down. He has since been in rehabilitation at a hospital in Colorado, and continues to work hard and see some improvement throughout his extensive therapy.
Flamion, 31, remains on a ventilator, but can maintain a conversation, eat solid food and has regained some movement in his shoulders, according to Ballwin Police Chief Kevin Scott, a 24-year veteran of the Ballwin Police Department.
Scott said after this officer was shot, the Department worked tirelessly for Officer Flamion and his family, and gave their unconditional support.
“I’ve never been more proud, but as Chief, I was responsible for him, and I will always live with this catastrophe,” Scott said. “Officer Flamion is absolutely the bravest man, and has not missed a beat in his recovery. Although it is evident he will not be able to serve in the same capacity, I will assure you that Officer Flamion is ingrained in the Ballwin police family and will forever be a Ballwin police officer, no questions asked.”
The Sinise Foundation decided to help Officer Flamion and his wife, Sara, when local businessman and board member Jim Shubert brought it to the foundation’s attention. Shubert, owner of Shubert Designs, said when he learned of the shooting, he knew at that time it was important to help.
“I talked to the Board about building a ‘smart home,’” Shubert said. “These homes are sophisticated and expensive, and that’s why today is a ‘call for action’ needed to raise financial support from the community.”
FIRST HOME FOR A POLICE OFFICER
The Ballwin ‘smart home’ is a first for a police officer. Previously, the Sinise Foundation was devoted primarily to helping military members injured in war.
Other local and national companies have stepped up in supporting Flamion, including North American Van Lines, National Wood Flooring Association, Associated General Contractors of America, St. Louis Cardinals, Panera Bread Company, Crestside Ballwin Heating and Cooling and Shubert Design Furniture, all of whom are existing partners of Gary Sinise Foundation’s R.I.S.E. (Restoring Independence Supporting Empowerment) program.
Local citizens of St. Louis have also rallied in their support of Officer Flamion raising about $400,000 for his ongoing care on a GoFundMe page.
Flamion, a nine-year law enforcement veteran, first served in the DeSoto Missouri Police Department for seven years before joining the Ballwin Missouri Police Department in December 2014. Officer Flamion served his community proudly and is recognized as an outstanding officer by the citizens of Ballwin. He has been honored by the Chief on two occasions for his heroic actions while in the line of duty. Both incidents involved an individual resisting arrest.
The alleged gunman, Antonio Taylor, fled the scene and was arrested in nearby Manchester. Taylor, 31, of St. Louis, is held in lieu of $1 million bail on charges of assault upon a police officer, armed criminal action and unlawful possession of a weapon. He has a long criminal history.
HOW TO DONATE
To donate, visit the Gary Sinise Foundation’s website (designating to whom your donation is being given) or mail to Gary Sinise Foundation, PO Box 50008, Studio City, CA 91614. Make checks payable to “Gary Sinise Foundation” and include a memo citing Officer Mike Flamion as the donation recipient.