GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) - Tuesday, July 8 marks seven years since Grand Rapids Police Officer Robert Kozminski was killed in the line of duty. For the first time, his partner on the force is opening up about what happened.
The first few hours of Kozminski's shift were slow; not many calls until 1:30 a.m. "He was called on a domestic call; basically a man threatening his family with a shotgun," recalled Sgt. Joe Trigg. Two officers approached the front door of the house on Emerald Street. Kozminski moved around to the back. Little did he know, the suspect was hiding in the garage. He shot him as he passed by.
Seven years later, Joe still feels guilt for not being there. He took that night off to spend with family. "Maybe if I was there, I would have communicated something; not that he did anything wrong, but maybe I would have had a suggestion or a safer approach."
Joe was flooded with shock and memories of the officer called 'Koz' by the police department, and 'Bobby' to his family. "(He) was just a genuine, trustworthy guy." After Koz was laid to rest, Joe faced a crisis of confidence. After returning from time off, he was not ready to hit the streets again. "I didn't want to do the job anymore...hands shaking from anxiety so much that I couldn't button my shirt."
When Joe did return, depression came along with him. His health got out of hand. "As people continue to move on with life and you're still stuck, those are the hardest times. Your world has stopped. It will never be the same. Other people are getting back to their lives."
Joe reached 300 lbs. "I didn't like the feeling of being weak and not in control of my body in front of coworkers. Eventually, I went to the gym and felt that instant release of a lot of that anxiety...it became medication."
A year later, a total transformation.
The weight loss was just the icing on the cake. Like the pounds, Joe was shedding emotional stress.
"The anxiety was why I pushed so hard. Being involved in sports and fitness stuff that makes me happy; life is pretty good right now." Joe says it's what Koz would've wanted. He shares his story with anyone wanting to listen. "Dealing with his loss is a big part of who I am now...one of the greatest fears is that he be forgotten."
In a way, Koz lives on through his partner, but also, the police force and the whole community. "I don't see him wanting us to drown in sadness. I see him saying, 'what's done is done, okay? Let's move on.'" A life of service, sacrifice, and starting over.