HOUSTON (FOX 26) - A law enforcement officer shot in the line of duty and recovering here in Houston is not only receiving well wishes from around the world, he’s also being showered with gifts.
East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Deputy Nick Tullier is on a long road to recovery at Houston’s TIRR Memorial Hermann Rehab facility after he and five other officers were shot by a man targeting cops in July 2016. One Louisiana artist says her prayers for Deputy Tullier turned into an amazing painting of the injured officer.
"That picture is Nick. It’s got him perfectly. It’s awesome. It’s fantastic,” smiles the deputy’s dad James Tullier.
Louisiana artist Ja’Niece Chitty Cefalu painted the portrait and took the special delivery to his parents.
"Our men in blue, women in blue, they don’t get enough credit,” explains Cefalu.
”People everywhere are still praying for Nick, and that’s what’s gotten Nick here. We know that. We hear this place is a place of miracles and we see that is true,” says Mr. Tullier.
The 41-year-old deputy was shot in the head, shoulder and abdomen this summer by a former marine Gavin Long who was on a rampage against officers. After being in a coma for four months, Deputy Tullier was brought here to TIRR for rehab.
”When we arrived here Nick was doing basically nothing other than we knew he was awake and he would look at us. The improvement is unreal,” explains the deputy’s dad. Mr. Tullier showed us a picture of his son getting a haircut today. Nick is sitting up by himself. When the deputy first arrived at TIRR Memorial Hermman therapists had to hold his head up for him.
"He’s written a happy birthday card to Mary (his mom) and to me too. I keep looking to the side because I’m looking at that portrait,” Mr. Tullier says during the interview as he stares at the painting of his son. “I can’t explain it. It’s just emotional”. Mr. Tullier says his eye is drawn to his son's trademark sunglasses and his grin in the painting. He hasn't seen either since his son was shot.
"Over time those muscles will loosen back up. He’s going to have some disabilities in life. He didn’t deserve them, but we pray, everybody is praying, that Nick will fully recover," Mr. Tullier said.
Cefalu hopes the painting is a gift the Tullier's will treasure. You see, a woman gave Cefalu a necklace with her daughter's picture after she was killed in a car wreck two weeks after winning fourth runner up in Teen Miss America.
”She said we will never forget her. That’s been 21 years now. That meant so much to me. So I want to do the same for other families,” explains Cefalu.
James Tullier says his son is communicating well non-verbally, doing things such as raising his leg to ask for a foot rub or leaning forward so someone can scratch his head. Deputy Tullier still has several surgeries and quite a road of recovery ahead of him.