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Malone has close call in line of duty

Officer Brent Malone is recovering from a injury on the job at his parents' home near Wadena

Deer hunting would have been Brent Malone’s preferred reason to return to the family farm north of Deer Creek last week. Instead, after a rapidly accelerating van struck the on-duty Fargo police officer, he spent much of the week recovering at his parents’ home.

“I feel more than lucky I got out of it the way I did. I obviously feel like someone’s watching out for me,” Malone, a 2006 WDC graduate, said Monday, a week after absorbing the van’s impact throughout the left side of his body, from hip to shoulder. Although the 25-year-old avoided broken bones, he said it “rocked my head a little bit.”

“Today’s the first day it didn’t completely hurt.”

Police were trying to locate 49-year-old Jack Christensen Nov. 4 to question him about alleged choking and stabbing incidents the day before. At about 7 p.m., Malone spotted Christensen’s van at a north Fargo laundromat, but the officer said he didn’t know whether anyone was inside.

That is, until the vehicle suddenly zoomed in Malone’s direction. With very little time to react, he quickly evaluated his limited options.

“I jumped so I didn’t get run over,” Malone said. But the van, which promptly sped away, smacked him to the ground. Before paramedics arrived to bring him to Sanford Medical Center, Malone’s partner provided first aid.

“He’s extremely lucky that his injuries weren’t worse,” said Lt. Joel Vettel, Fargo police spokesman.

Police arrested Christensen the next morning at his north Fargo apartment following a six-hour standoff. He faces several felony charges including aggravated assault with a deadly weapon - “the weapon being the car,” Vettel said.

Christensen’s been unable to post his $250,000 bond, Vettel said, and remains at the Cass County Jail awaiting his next court appearance in December.

Monty Mertz, Christensen’s defense attorney, did not respond to phone and email requests for comment by press time.

On Nov. 5, Malone posted to his Facebook page: “Hey everybody, I’m alive and well. Thank you for all the calls, messages and check ins at the hospital. Appreciate it.”

Malone said the reaction of his family, friends and law enforcement colleagues has been “amazing.”

And he said the support he’s received from community contacts on his north Fargo beat - homeowners and business people - has been particularly gratifying. “It’s definitely the most satisfying part of the job to have people recognizing you’re trying to do something for them.”

Malone said he will see another specialist before the decision is made about when he’ll return.

Vettel said Malone will be back “relatively quickly … At the end of the day, our biggest priority is to get him back to us healthy.”

“Officer Malone has handled this incident extremely well,” Vettel said, “and that’s a testament to his level of professionalism.”

A 2010 NDSU criminal justice graduate with minors in psychology and fraud investigations, Malone finished a 10-week law enforcement skill course at Alexandria Technical College in 2011. After a stint in private security he joined the Fargo Police Department in July 2012. Besides serving as a beat cop, Malone is also a bike cop, a crime scene investigator and recently joined the crisis intervention team.

In his short time on the force, he’s also made the news for arresting a man who allegedly stole a sex toy. What’s received less attention, except among colleagues, is the Life Saving Medal he earned for breaking down a garage wall - with his feet and shoulders - to rescue a veteran who was trying to commit suicide in his vehicle.

On Monday, Veterans Day, Malone said he gets satisfaction from doing a good job, “not from recognition.”

Saving that life, is “one of those things you’re glad it worked out the way you wanted it to in your mind,” Malone said. Often, he said, in crime scene investigation, “I get to see a lot of situations that don’t work out.”

Before returning to Fargo Monday night, Malone dropped by the farm to enjoy some halibut he and his father caught during a fishing trip to Alaska this summer - “a good little treat,” he said.   

For Malone, the best part about getting laid up over deer hunting season was getting to spend extra time with his extended family, including three siblings and 10 nieces and nephews, who returned home for the sportsmen’s holiday. “In small doses,” he added with a laugh. “Otherwise my head would start hurting.”

(Some information for this report was provided by the Forum News Service).