Orlando officer Kevin Valencia showing signs of improvement after 2018 shooting

Valencia awarded Purple Heart during retirement ceremony

ORLANDO, Fla. – An Orlando Police Department officer who was shot in the head in 2018, sparking a standoff that ended with a man killing himself and four children, is showing signs of improvement.

Officer Kevin Valencia was awarded a Purple Heart, which his wife Meghan Valencia accepted Tuesday during a retirement ceremony. She also received a plaque naming her husband an honorary K9 handler since he expressed interest in becoming a K9 officer before he was injured.

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“That is just absolutely beautiful in every single way. I’m just so overwhelmed and so grateful for you guys. Thank you so much for making him an honorary K9 officer, I can’t wait to tell him,” Meghan Valencia said during the ceremony.

She also accepted a large display frame containing Kevin Valencia’s service weapon, badge, handcuffs and patches.

In a news release, the police department said the now-retired officer has been showing signs of improvement. A few days ago, he began interacting with his wife by rubbing her head and giving her a kiss.

She said the past two years have been difficult for her and her family.

“Kevin is considered ‘emerged,’ which essentially means he can interact with people and the world around him to a certain extent. It is probably the biggest obstacle he has crossed in his recovery. It’s hard to say how we are doing. My family essentially lives in limbo to a certain extent. I try to give my children as much of a normal home life as possible and we get to visit Kevin more often now considering some of the bans have been lifted due to COVID,” she said.

Kevin Valencia was responding to a domestic violence situation at an Orlando apartment complex on June 10, 2018 after a woman called 911 saying that her boyfriend had beaten her and was still inside their unit with four children.

When he was unable to get inside, Kevin Valencia was authorized to kick in the door of the apartment and that’s when suspect Gary Wayne Lindsey Jr. fired through the door, striking him in the head, records show.

A standoff that lasted nearly a full day ensued. In the end, Lindsey was found dead inside the apartment along with Irayan Pluth, 12; Lillia Pluth, 10; Aidan Lindsey, 6,; and Dove Lindsey, 1.

Earlier this year, he was still in a coma. He initially received treatment at Orlando Regional Medical Center until he was transferred to Shepard’s Rehabilitation Center in Georgia about two weeks after he was injured.

He was moved back to Central Florida early last year.