U.S. Marine amputee fights through rejection, pain to become police officer

OCEANSIDE, California -- 30-year old Chris Lawrence is about to realize his dream of becoming a police officer.

But the road to get there hasn't been easy.

Chris Lawrence, a Milwaukee native, joined the Marines when he was 20-years old and quickly found himself in Iraq. But his deployment was cut short, after an explosion damaged his feet and left arm.

It was months before he started walking again, but when he did, his right leg wasn't responding and had to be amputated.

In spite of his injuries, Lawrence started thinking about becoming a police officer. He moved to California and applied to the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

"I always looked up to them and thought about becoming an officer after I got out of the Marine Corps, that's something I would do," Lawrence said.

The department was interested at first, but eventually turned him down because of his physical limitations.

But Lawrence wasn't going to take "no" for an answer.

"I put so much work and time. I trained every day. I ran every day," Lawrence said. "I was devastated, I tried not to cry," he added.

Another Marine Veteran suggested Lawrence try the police academy at Southwestern College in Chula Vista, where instructors gave him an opportunity.

He says he did everything the other recruits did, with no special accommodations or adaptations.

And that hard work paid off. Lawrence graduates Friday and was already offered a job by the Chula Vista P.D.

"I wouldn't have ever guessed nine, 10 years ago when I got injured that I would be achieving this," Lawrence said. "I want to have the impact on the community that those officers had on me when I was younger and I want to return every favor I've gotten and make sure that I can do everything I can to help the citizens of Chula Vista."

As for what motivates him? Lawrence said the Marine in him wouldn't let him give up.