Officer Benito Chavez stood resolute wearing tan pants, a blue shirt and holding a walking stick by his side while people gathered inside Kittitas City Hall on Monday.

Officer Chavez of the Kittitas Police Department accepted a thin-blue-line flag and made one of his first public appearances since an officer-involved shooting on March 19 in which Kittitas County Sheriff Deputy Ryan Thompson was shot and killed and Officer Chavez injured.

Fifty people, which included safety personnel, gathered inside Kittitas City Hall to show support for Chavez and remember Deputy Thompson. Chavez accepted a thin-blue-line flag that was passed and signed between law enforcement agencies that even crossed state lines. The flag began its trip carried by Master Sergeant Mitch Kriebel who embarked on a 31-mile trek across Wisconsin all the while carrying a 35-pound rucksack.

Chavez said at the press conference that he is walking with a cane and is doing physical therapy three times a week after needing a metal-rod to be placed starting at the top of his hip to the top of his knee.

“Right now I’m just trying to build muscles to be able to walk,” Chavez said. “It’s weird when it’s taken away from you, but definitely looking forward to being 100 percent and being back on the road.”

Chavez said he is currently expected to do desk work but hopes to quickly build back up his strength to get back on the job and performing his normal duties like patrolling the streets of Kittitas.

“I think about Ryan a lot,” Chavez said. “You never really meet a lot of people like that. What he did that night I think about all the time because he’s the only reason I saw it through the day.”

When asked if he had any hesitation returning to work after the shooting Chavez said after the shooting he’s come to realize he can’t always worry about the what-ifs and moving forward he intends to take it one day at a time.

“I think every police officer regardless if it’s their first day or their last day before retirement, they’re always thinking about that moment when things could backfire; now it’s only ever more present in my mind,” Chavez said.

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