The Justin Conley Story [Vest Saves Life]

The following was shared by Justin Conley, Mount Orab, Ohio PD.

Editor’s Note: Law Officer has been looking for the best ballistic armor save stories on our Facebook page ( We’ve gotten some incredible submissions from all over the country, each of which drives home the point—wear your vest! The following was shared by Justin Conley, Mount Orab, Ohio PD.

On January 2, 2010, I put on my Safariland ABA vest and wrapped it around my waist like I had done a thousand times before. Then I went on to the new step in my routine and kissed my 12-week-old son goodbye before snapping a picture of my wife holding him. Being a new father, I was still in the “snap-a-picture-of-every-moment” stage. Little did I know how close that moment was to being my last memory of them.

The first half of my 12-hour shift seemed to fly by. After several reports and a couple arrests, I found myself parked behind a desk working on paperwork. Around 4 am, I decided to walk out into the bone-chilling morning air to grab a snack from my cruiser. As I reached my car, I heard a metallic click that I hadn’t noticed before. When I turned my head to investigate, I locked eyes with a suspect I had arrested earlier in my shift for drunk driving—only this time he showed up with a .357 revolver and an ambush plan.

I had zero time to react. His first round hit me in the back, but my training took over as I began to return fire and make my way to cover while calling for help on the radio. The suspect’s next four rounds missed me. After nine rounds from my weapon and seven more from my partner, the suspect was down in the parking lot.

My brain and emotions were running at record pace as I met my partner in the parking lot to check me out. As I lay there on the pavement as the first responders started to arrive, imagine my relief as he screamed, “It’s in your vest!” Instead of a helicopter ride or a body bag, I was given a short trip to the local hospital to get checked out.

I don’t want to think about the alternative outcome of this situation had I not put my vest on that night—I would have been out of the fight before I realized what was happening. I’m sure it wouldn’t have resulted with me walking out of the ER just a couple hours afterward with my son in my arms. I still think about that day often and always cheer myself up by looking at my favorite picture—the one they took of me holding my son in my living room that morning after I arrived home. Bottom line: Please always wear your body armor!



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