It’s been a year since a Lakeland Police officer was got shot by a suspect and now that officer is speaking out in an exclusive interview.

Lakeland Police Sergeant, Doug Mills, said he came face to face with the barrel of a suspect’s gun after they went to question him about a warrant.

“I focused in on the barrel of the gun,” Mills said. “Even though it was a 38-caliber revolver the barrel of that thing looked probably four inches around.”

Investigators said this all happened after they got a call about a wanted man. They were looking for Essau Coney. Instead they found 66-year-old Tommie Lanier.

A man who friends and family say was mentally ill and heavily armed when he was confronted by Mills and another officer near North Lake Wire Park. Officer Mills gave his account of that day.

“As we’re giving him commands to just kind of stop and show us his ID so we could confirm who he is, so we could confirm the warrant, he never said a thing just kept looking back and forth and started making his way this direction,” Mills said. “I came around the motorcycle. As he gets over here, turns and squares up to me and that’s when he reaches under his shirt to produce the handgun.”

Mills was shot in his elbow. He said the bullet traveled to his chest. Thankfully he made a full recovery.

The shooter, Lanier, survived for almost a year. He died recently from injuries he sustained during that shootout.

Officer Mills said he came out to the area where the shooting happened to reflect on what exactly happened there that day. That was a week after the shooting. He went back to the area with our cameras and says it still serves as a reminder of how lucky he is.

Since the shooting a lot has changed. Mills was promoted to sergeant. He says even with the close call, he couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

“When I signed up for the job I knew there were some circumstances that you could be put in where you’d possibly have to use lethal force,” Mills said. “No one wants to do it. You train for it. My training paid off and luckily I’m still here to do my job.”