Officer’s recovery ‘miraculous’

Published 8:41 pm Monday, May 21, 2012

The uncle of a Suffolk police officer critically injured during a foot chase Saturday says his nephew’s recovery has been “miraculous.”

Officer James Winslow already is walking and talking with his family after being severely beaten, said his uncle, Delegate Chris Jones of Suffolk.

Meanwhile, a fund has been set up to help his family, and more details are emerging in the investigation into the assault.

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Police have arrested Joe Louis Staton, 43, of Portsmouth, and charged him with numerous felonies, including malicious wounding of a police officer.

The day’s events began about 8:25 a.m., when Winslow spotted a red Ford Expedition that had been reported stolen from Norfolk. He initiated a traffic stop in the 1000 block of Nansemond Parkway, and the driver immediately bailed from the vehicle, threw up his hands and ran into the woods.

Winslow began a foot chase, but dispatchers soon lost radio contact with him. Other officers arriving on the scene searched the woods and found Winslow unconscious, with traumatic injuries to his head, face, shoulder and arm.

Winslow was flown via helicopter to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, where he still is listed in critical condition.

“It’s been miraculous to see what’s happened in the last 36 hours,” said Jones, whom Winslow calls “Uncle Chris.” “Prayer is a powerful thing. He has gotten better almost by the hour.”

Jones said his nephew has been talking with his family and walked with assistance. He is in an intensive care unit called the BTU, or Burn Trauma Unit, and likely will be there for the better part of this week.

“The good news is he’s made tremendous progress since he’s come out of surgery,” said Jones, whose sister is Winslow’s mother. “His progression has been amazing. It’s just been very encouraging.”

Jones said his nephew is a native of Suffolk and has always wanted to be a police officer.

“He is one tough individual,” Jones said. “I’m just proud of him. He is just a fighter.”

Jones said the family is appreciative of the work and compassion shown by numerous individuals.

“The family wants to publicly thank all the law enforcement, EMS, doctors and nurses at Sentara for the attention, professionalism and all the courtesies and the prayers that have been said on our behalf and James’ behalf,” he said. “He’s got a very strong and supportive family, not just his biological family but also police and law enforcement.”

Winslow recently turned 27 years old, Jones added. He and his wife do not have any children.

City spokeswoman Debbie George said Staton, the suspect, allegedly stole Winslow’s police radio and could have been using it to eavesdrop on the massive manhunt for him, making it harder to catch him.

George said “everybody that was available, and then some” were working the case on Saturday.

Staton eventually was spotted running from behind a house on Nansemond Parkway about 3:45 p.m. He was found wearing a blue sweatshirt that was too small for him, although the suspect on Winslow’s dashboard videocamera was wearing a baggy, white T-shirt.

George said Staton is charged with burglary and petit larceny because he allegedly broke into a home on Nansemond Parkway and stole the blue sweatshirt.

The Suffolk Police Officers’ Association, Local 780, has set up a fund to help Winslow’s family.

“Donations will be used to assist Officer Winslow and his family during what will be a long recuperation,” stated a press release from the association.

Donors sending a check should write Officer James Winslow in the memo line. It should be sent to Monarch Bank, 2999 Corporate Lane, Suffolk, VA 23434, to the attention of Suffolk Police Officers’ Association, in care of Officer James Winslow.