'Heroes' documentary tells tale of Clairton officer, others
Clairton officer James Kuzak poses for a portrait in front of the poster for the film, “Heroes Behind the Badge: Sacrifice & Survival” when the film is being screened at Heinz Field, Saturday, April 5, 2014. Kuzak is featured in the film about officers who were wounded or killed in the line of duty.
Photo by Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Clairton police officer James Kuzak Jr. sat humbled by the overwhelming support of friends, family and fellow law enforcement officers as he relived the night when a His story, and those of four others wounded or killed in the line of duty, were told through a documentary film at the Pittsburgh premier of “Heroes Behind the Badge: Sacrifice & Survival” on Saturday at Heinz Field.
“It feels beyond words to see all the people who are willing to come here to see me in a documentary,” Kuzak said. “I expected to see a few people, but everyone I can imagine is here. It's humbling.”
Preceded by an Allegheny County FOP Lodge 91 Honor Guard and the Greater Pittsburgh Police Emerald Society Pipes and Drums, the film opened with the statistic that an officer is injured or killed in a felonious assault every 33 minutes.
“Heroes Behind the Badge” offered Kuzak, other officers and their families an opportunity to share emotional aspects of officers putting their lives on the line for the public.
The film took Kuzak back to the Miller Avenue property where he was critically wounded. He believes the paralysis was his sacrifice in saving a family that could have been killed if police didn't intervene.
“I didn't know that the last time I walked off these four steps was going to be the last time I ever walked,” he said. Tears welled in his eyes as he looked at the back yard where he was shot five times.
The film covers his physical therapy and medical diagnosis, along with the emotional support system anchored by his girlfriend Cris Okluanis and parents Beverly Kuzak and James Kuzak Sr.
“After seeing this movie, I know my family is fortunate,” his father James Kuzak Sr. said. “These other families would give everything they have to have what we have with Jimmy.”
Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1956, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments â either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.