In January 1993, 22 year-old Katrina Cooke Brownlee was shot 10 times by her ex-fiancé while trying to leave their abusive relationship.
She was rushed to the hospital where she went into a coma, and altough doctors had to leave six bullets inside of Brownlee, she miraculously survived. Her unborn child however didn’t survive the attack.
Years of physical therapy would follow, along with emotional therapy to help her process the trauma. One thing Brownlee couldn't forget were the numerous times she called police officers to her home after she was physically and sexually abused.
“I had called the cops so many times and they always turned their backs on me. So I didn’t have any faith in the justice system. He was law enforcement and they respected and honored that,” explains Brownlee.
She took a job as a traffic agent. She wanted to do more than pass out parking tickets, so when she was presented with an opportunity to take the exam for a promotion to the police department, she took it. She graduated from the police academy in 2001.
“All of my thoughts were, ‘I’m going to be a good cop,’” says Brownlee. “Police have their reputation for not caring about people in the Black and brown community, that’s not a secret. So I wanted for people to also see that this was a woman who looked like them, and she does care and she’s a police officer. I always wanted them to be able to say they could count on officer Brownlee and give them some inspiration.”
Instead of revenge or retaliation, Brownlee turned her own trauma into a path forward for other women. In 2012, she started a program for at-risk teens, which was eventually renamed Young Ladies of Our Future. Today, she uses this platform to mentor, educate and empower young women — showing them that where they were born, doesn’t have to determine their outcome in life.
After 20 years in law enforcement, Brownlee retired last summer, and on her last day, she finally shared her harrowing story of survival.
Her upcoming memoir is entitled, “Then came the blues,” is Brownlee’s chance to tell her story. A chance to share her message of perseverance, faith, and love.