August 12, 2002 at 5:06 PM EST - Updated July 26 at 11:45 PM
CLEVELAND (AP) - A small movement has given a lot of hope to family members and friends of police officer Mike Schmitt. He raised a hand from his hospital bed Friday and flashed a thumbs-up.
The 36-year-old officer had been kept unconscious on medication since a bullet shot through his jaw Thursday night lodged in his brain. His family was searching for the sign that came with his hand's reply to a nurse's question.
"Tears of joy flowed freely from everyone present," Schmitt's brother-in-law, Matt Lucas of Cleveland, said Saturday.
Schmitt "has a very long way to go," but the patrolman "has more than a fighting chance," Lucas said in a statement he issued on the family's behalf.
Doctors at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland removed a portion of the right side of his skull Friday morning to relieve pressure and to provide room for his brain to swell. He remained in serious condition Saturday.
Cleveland police have said that Schmitt was shot by Jeffrey Hopkins, 23, of Cleveland, after Schmitt and his partner, Donald Finau, drove him downtown to catch a bus at Public Square. They had responded to a complaint that Hopkins was causing a disturbance at a business.
In a scuffle, Hopkins somehow got Schmitt's gun, shot Schmitt in the face and fired a shot that missed Finau, who opened fire and killed Hopkins, police said.
(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)