Nearly three years after she was seriously injured trying to arrest a man who had just committed a robbery on the North Side, Officer Colleen Bristow has still been unable to return to her job patrolling Pittsburgh's Zone 1.
Instead, she told a judge Monday morning that she continues to suffer physically and emotionally after being struck by a car and dragged several feet as Aaron Farrow tried to flee the scene Sept. 15, 2010.
"I am now epileptic and experience grand mal seizures and tremors from the blow to the head that I sustained that day," she said. "Some days the migraines are so severe, I am unable to leave my bedroom to perform even normal day-to-day activities, including caring for my child."
More than that, Officer Bristow said, she has memory loss, can no longer taste or smell, has a loss of balance, has post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety.
"The pain is a constant reminder of what happened to me that day and how I will never be the same person that I was," she said.
Farrow, 27, pleaded guilty in December to five counts each of aggravated assault and reckless endangerment. He was sentenced Monday by Common Pleas Judge Philip Ignelzi to a minimum of six years and eight months in prison and as many as 14 years.
He also was sentenced last week in U.S. District Court to 70 months for conspiracy to commit a robbery and conspiracy to distribute marijuana.
Judge Ignelzi said that the two sentences will run concurrently.
Farrow and several other men were trying to steal from a drug operation inside the Brighton Road flea market when Officer Bristow and others were dispatched to the scene.
As she chased Farrow, he got inside a gold van on Riversea Road. She ordered him out of the vehicle, but instead Farrow put it in reverse, hit the officer with the open door and dragged her several feet.
During an emotional hearing, Officer Bristow's daughter told the judge that Farrow's actions changed the lives of her and her mother forever.
"Since I was 10 to now 13, I have witnessed things that a kid should never have to see their parent go through," Laurel Bristow said. She asked the judge to show Farrow no mercy because he "showed no mercy to my mother."
Defense attorney Blaine Jones said his client never intended to hurt the officer.
"Aaron was apologetic and contrite," Mr. Jones said. "He just made a colossal error in judgment. He panicked."
Paula Reed Ward: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-2620.