Surgeon discusses the severity of injuries for 2 HPD officers who were shot


HOUSTON – Houston police Chief Art Acevedo said Officer Ronny Cortez, a 24-year veteran of the department, was shot several times in the stomach and back Tuesday. He was taken to Memorial Hermann Hospital. Dr. David Purse said Cortez's condition has been improving since his arrival.

Officer Jose Munoz, a 10-year veteran of the department, was shot in the foot and leg, Acevedo said. He was taken to Ben Taub Hospital, where he was listed in stable condition.

Detail: 2 officers shot in southwest Houston; 1 gunman dead

“A bullet entering through the front may not actually injure the spinal cord itself,” said Dr. Ajay Bindal, a neurosurgeon.

Bindal is not treating officer Cortez but said about the severity of his injury, “Assuming he's shot in the stomach, then it would be affecting (most likely) his lumbar spine.”

He said injury to the lumbar spine might be better than the alternative.

“Injury in that area is better tolerated since the spinal cord usually terminates in the upper lumbar region and then you have nerves and these nerves would be harder to injure with a gunshot wound than a gunshot wound higher in the spine,” Bindal said.

The Houston Police Department cannot disclose exactly where Cortez is shot but they said he is alert and speaking.

“The question is whether or not he's moving his legs and does he have any paralysis in his legs,” Bindal said. “If he is moving his legs then that's a good sign.”

Bindal said it's likely that if Cortez had direct trauma to his spine he would probably be having surgery today.