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Final Moments of VA Police Recruit's Life Unfold

Final Moments of VA Police Recruit's Life Unfold

Virginia Pilot via YellowBrix

February 04, 2011

NORFOLK – The week of Dec. 6 was set aside to teach recruits self-defense at the Norfolk police training academy. If they wanted to become officers, they would need to know how to handcuff a suspect, block punches and kicks, and protect themselves – and their gun – in a fight to the death.

In Norfolk, that means learning to take a hit.

Bruises, headaches and sore muscles in such training are not unusual. Neither are trips for some recruits to an urgent care clinic.

Leldon Sapp, a defensive tactics instructor, and others asked the recruits at least three times each day whether they were injured. Over four days, no one spoke up.

But a recruit ended up unconscious and eventually died.

Police records released under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act don’t reveal the cause of John Kohn’s death, and the medical examiner’s investigation is continuing. However, the records, including internal memos and training video, show a detailed series of events that could have caused head trauma.

On Tuesday, Dec. 7, Kohn, a lanky sergeant in the U.S. Army Reserve, was doing blocking drills with Officer Stephen Bailey. Instructors throw punches; recruits wearing protective headgear block them. Bailey landed a right to Kohn’s head – a punch Bailey later described as soft.

The blow was hard enough, however, to rattle Kohn, who either fell or stumbled into a wall before he shot back up. Recruits watching gave out a collective “Ooh!”

“Are you OK?” Bailey asked Kohn after urging him to take off his headgear so he could peer into his eyes.

“Sir, I’m OK.”

Another instructor observing the drill for safety also asked Kohn if he was OK.

It wasn’t the only head blow Kohn suffered that day. During knee-strike practices with another recruit, he held a pad that hit him in the face, according to police.

Kohn, 40, complained to a fellow recruit.

“I feel nauseous,” he told Montrell Martin, 24. “I have a headache. Can you check my pupils?”

Kohn walked with recruit Alonzo Burroughs, 35, as Burroughs returned a medical bag. Burroughs asked Kohn what had happened.

“Don’t worry about it,” Kohn said.

When Burroughs pressed for a response, Kohn told him he had a headache but wasn’t sure if he wanted to tell instructors.

“I don’t want to talk to them,” he said. “I’ll wait until tomorrow, and if it doesn’t get better by tomorrow, I’ll talk to them.”

That night, he told his wife, Patricia, that he’d gotten his bell rung and saw stars. She didn’t like hearing such details.

She later told police she believed the incident happened during her husband’s training with another recruit in which they used the pads.

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-63
  • Me_last_wk_max50

    delano388

    over 3 years ago

    4314 Comments

    such a sad story.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    DAWGGY69

    over 3 years ago

    72 Comments

    MY BLESSINGS GOES OUT TO HIS FAMILY.

  • 041105-o-9999g-012_max50

    Rscheiterle

    over 3 years ago

    1822 Comments

    Prayers for the family and department. Another sad example of why honesty is the best policy.

  • 20091128130150_1__max50

    Utah__09

    over 3 years ago

    108 Comments

    This is a shame. I don't think anybody expects this in training. Trust me, I'm not blaming anybody here as I believe this to be a terrible accident. However maybe there should be a rule that a nurse or paramedic always be on hand during contact drills or fighting to check everybody who may possibly have head trauma. I understand that recruits do not want to show weakness, so if a guick exam is mandatory maybe it could prevent something like this from happening again. I don't think they should do away with aggressive training altogether, I personally would have liked to have had more of it.

  • Mil_policemourn_1__max50

    JCorrea

    over 3 years ago

    144 Comments

    I can understand not wanting to look like a cry-baby....but when you see stars.....that might be a red flag to speak up and get yourself checked out. Head injuries are no laughing matter.

    RIP

  • Anonymous-killer-whale-232189_1__max50

    Whalewatcher

    over 3 years ago

    11194 Comments

    Head injuries are nothing to fool with. Wish he'd spoken up sooner. Rest in peace, Cadet Kohn.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    over 3 years ago

    RIP

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    rsironron

    over 3 years ago

    5220 Comments

    Rest in Peace.

  • Nag_max50

    bsears

    over 3 years ago

    9566 Comments

    RIP

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    over 3 years ago

    Rest in Peace.

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