POTEAU, Okla. (CBS4) – An off-duty Oklahoma police officer thought he should respond to a call because he had experience dealing with child abuse cases.
There was no indication his family was about to grow.
In April of 2015, Patrolman Jody Thompson was dropping off his partner at the Poteau Police Department when dispatch sent other officers to a child abuse call.
“I’ve investigated child abuse cases before,” Thompson told CBS News. “I thought I’d better go ahead and respond.”
Before he joined the department 16 years ago, Thompson was an investigator for the district attorney’s office. There, he handled dozens of abuse cases.
Thompson arrived at the scene and saw John, an 8-year-old boy who weighed 61 pounds. John had been submerged in a trash can full of cold water.
“He did not have a spot on his body that didn’t have a bruise or abrasion,” Thompson said. “It was the worst thing I’ve ever seen.”
Thompson put a blanket around the boy and sat with him while detectives documented evidence.
Thompson then drove John to the emergency room.
“And when he was admitted into the intensive care unit, I sat all night until the next day.”
Days later, Thompson drove the boy to his new home.
“At the time, I had a 15-year-old son and an 8-year-old son,” Thompson said. “When I brought John home I didn’t tell them or my wife. (But) everyone knew… they trusted I was doing the right thing before they even knew what happened and heard the story.”
Thompson formally adopted the boy within a month.
Eventually, he also adopted John’s infant sister who had been born in jail.
This as he learned his wife was pregnant with their third biological son.
“Never in my life did I dream of having a large family, but God had different plans and so here we are. And I’m loving it all.”
On Tuesday, Thompson received a certificate of commendation from the Oklahoma Bureau of Investigations. John stood by his side.
“You exemplify the kind of officer your community, city and the State of Oklahoma are blessed to have serving and protecting them,” Bureau Director Stan D. Florence read to the officer. “Your compassion is to be admired.”
“It’s men like you that make me proud of our law enforcement brothers and sisters,” said his police chief, Stephen Fruen.
“[John’s] the toughest guy I’ve ever met,” said Thompson, explaining that his son had to testify on his own behalf during the trial.
“He’s a straight-A student, on the honor roll, in the gifted and talented program, involved in the local drama club,” Thompson said of his now 10-year-old son. “That kid’s very resilient. He bounced back from this.”