Shot in the line of duty: Sandy officer, family, share how fateful day brought them closer together

Mar 27, 2023, 10:16 PM | Updated: 10:48 pm

SANDY, Utah — For 18 months, Sgt. Greg Moffitt has lived with the scars that come with being shot in the line of duty.

A patchwork of healed skin and muscle on his right forearm shows the spot where a 9mm bullet entered and violently ripped through the tissue before exiting and entering the side of his face.

“Every day, I wake up and I have a physical reminder of that day,” he said.

Moffitt was shot on Sept. 8, 2021, during a Sandy Police Department SWAT operation at the Arcadia Apartments, located at 222 Harrison Street.

Sgt. Greg Moffitt (Sandy City Police Department)

The man who shot Moffitt, 54-year-old Sean De Jesus Darragh, was sentenced in federal court Monday to 10 years in prison for the drug and gun crimes tied to that day.

“He’s going to have the next 120 months of life to contemplate some of these decisions,” Moffitt said

Moffitt, his wife and three daughters agreed to talk exclusively with KSL about how that day impacted their family.

Sept. 8, 2021

Moffitt was the shield operator and first in the door at Darragh’s apartment when the 21-year police veteran said he was met with immediate gunfire.

“I knew I had been shot and I had returned fire simultaneously. The next thing I can remember is being on the ground,” he said. “Some of them (fellow SWAT officers) thought I died; they thought I was dead because I dropped so quickly, my shield went flying.”

As Moffitt was dragged out of the apartment and into the hallway where a medic rendered first aid, he told himself to keep his eyes open.

“I thought I was dying. I knew I had been shot in the arm, I knew I had been shot in the face, and I could feel so much pressure in my neck. I knew I had a bullet in my neck,” he said.

Photos of Sgt. Greg Moffitt. (Jackson Grimm/KSL TV)

In that critical moment, not knowing how extensive his injuries were, Moffitt said his focus was on the safety of his team and his family.

“I started thinking about my wife and started thinking about my kids, and I think that was a strength,” he said.

A family’s healing journey

Moffitt and his family still feel the emotional weight of that fateful day.

“We have some moments that are really easy and other moments that are tough,” Moffit said. “As a family, we’re able to lean on each other quite a bit.”

“It was absolutely the most difficult moment of my life,” said Carly Moffitt, who learned of her husband’s injuries when police department friends showed up at her door as her husband was being taken to Intermountain Medical Center.

Photos of Sgt. Greg Moffitt in the hospital. (Jackson Grimm/KSL TV)

“Every moment of that few minutes is kind of seared in my head,” she said.

Carly quickly rushed to join her husband at IMC.

Her father informed their three teen daughters of what happened.

“That news was a shock to me. It didn’t feel real in the moment,” said 17-year-old Olivia, who goes by Liv. “Once I heard those words, all time froze.”

Liv credits her older sister, Grace, 19, for keeping her and her younger sister, Kate, 14, calm in the hours that followed until they learned that their father would survive.

“You accept it and push forward,” Grace said.

“My oldest, she could see her two sisters were hysterical, and she stepped up. Strong girl, stepped up and did things she needed to do to distract them,” Greg said.

Greg, Olivia and Grace Moffitt. (Jackson Grimm/KSL TV)

Moffitt’s injuries came at the height of COVID restrictions within Utah hospitals. While his injuries were severe, he was released from the hospital 17 hours later to continue his recovery at home — sending daily updates and photos of his wounds to his surgeon.

“He came home and we got to move on with our lives and move forward and grow,” Carly said.

Looking back on those first few months of recovery, the Moffitt family said that time together was healing for all of them, and they credit the community with helping them through it.

“It was so incredible to see the people that surrounded us and held us up during definitely the hardest time of our lives,” Carly said.

“We had so many people come and make sure we were OK and just text us and text our parents,” added Kate, who laughed when thinking about the dozens and dozens of Crumbl Cookies delivered during those first few weeks of recovery.

“I can’t even begin to express the amount of support we received from the people around us,” Carly said.

Healing emotional wounds

While Greg has healed physically, it has taken time for each member of the family to heal mentally and emotionally. And they admit, it has not been easy.

“The things I’ve done as a mom as a result of this — anxiety attacks that had never happened before, the girls coming into our room sometimes after seeing a shooting in a movie and being in complete panic, and the calming that,” Carly said. “Each one of them have slept on the bedroom, on the floor because they don’t feel safe in their room.”

“It’s definitely still impacting me,” Liv said. “I have moments where I will feel panic and sometimes it will come in waves.”

“We all suffered it. We all went through it on several different levels,” Greg said.

During the healing process, the Moffitts have also sought professional help for their mental health. The father of three said he tries to be open with his daughters about the importance of asking for help.

“I don’t hesitate to tell people I went through therapy after this. There were things I needed to talk about to set my mind at ease, and I was diagnosed with PTSD after the whole thing,” he said. “I think my daughters can see I’m OK with being vulnerable and sometimes having a hard day, but also seeking help and asking for it.”

The Moffitt family. (Jackson Grimm/KSL TV)

Greg returned to work as a police officer 100 days after being shot, and he’s now the public information officer for the Sandy City Police Department, often seen in television news reports as the department’s spokesperson.

“I’m that guy,” he laughed.

As time passes, he said it’s getting easier to live life without the constant memory of being shot in the face. And now that Darragh has been sentenced, he said his family can close this chapter in their lives.

“It’s a really big thing for us to just move on with life and stop letting this moment of time 18 months ago hold us back,” he said.

Each member of the Moffitt family wrote impact statements to share with Darragh at his sentencing, and while each one is personal, the overall message is the same.

“Just because you did something bad to our whole family, it brought us that much closer to each other than we already were,” Kate said.

“In the end, we came out OK. We didn’t fumble. We got back up and got back to where we were, if not better than when that did happen,” Grace said.

“If there is one thing that came out of this, if there’s been a silver lining, it’s how much closer it has brought our family together,” Greg said.

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Shot in the line of duty: Sandy officer, family, share how fateful day brought them closer together