Hartford police officers honored for heroic service 43 years after being shot

HARTFORD -- Two police officers, shot in the line of duty, were recognized for their heroism four decades later.

Hartford Police Department Officers Frederick Morhardt and William F. Hippe, Jr., suffered from life threatening injuries after being shot on Pratt Street on July 30th, 1974.

That day, police say Morhardt was assigned to motorcycle patrol and was tagging illegally parked cars when he was approached from behind by a man with a baseball bat. That's when police say the man took Morhardt's service weapon and shot him in the back of the head.

"When he hit me from behind, if he would have killed me, I would have never know," Morhardt said.

He said his only memory after being hit was another officer, who he respected as a tough member of the police department, holding him and crying, telling Morhardt it would be okay.

"He’s crying, and the tears are coming down on me and I’m thinking, this isn’t going well," he said.

Hippie was one of several officers dispatched to the scene and one of the first to show up. He was assaulted in his patrol car by the same man, according to police, who also shot at the car.

Police said the man responsible was on a one day leave from a Connecticut Mental Hospital. He was ultimately apprehended, according to police.

Both officers returned to duty after recovery.

"It didn't phase us not to go back," Morhardt said. "Why wouldn't I go back?"

They both retired in the mid 1990's. While both said they never expected to get recognized, nearly 43 years after the incident, they returned to Hartford Police Headquarters for an award ceremony.

Chief Rovella awarded the retired officers, Wednesday, with the Chief’s Medal of Valor and Police Cross.

"The good part was, we survived to get this," Morhardt said.

The men are also honored in the American Police Motorcycle Museum. There is a display of an old Hartford Police motorcycle, and Morhardt's uniform.