‘I wasn’t letting go of him’: Hear from Detroit officer who tried to save partner in face of gunman

Officer Amanda Hudgens praised for trying to save Officer Loren Courts

Detroit police Officer Amanda Hudgens spoke publicly for the first time since her partner, Officer Loren Courts, was shot and killed in the line of duty.

DETROIT – A Detroit police officer who’s been praised for risking her life to try to save her injured partner instead of protecting herself from a gunman with an assault rifle spoke to Local 4 about what happened that day.

Last week, Detroit police Chief James White praised Officer Amanda Hudgens for her courage during the shooting that killed her partner, Officer Loren Courts.

“Officer Hudgens has to make a decision: She wants to keep direct pressure applied to our officer’s wounds, so that he has a chance to live,” White said. “Behind her is the murderer, who is walking toward her with his assault rifle. She makes the decision to give her partner a chance to live, keeping her back to the assailant. I’ve never seen anything like that.”

Courts was shot and killed around 7:40 p.m. Wednesday (July 6) after he, Hudgens, and several other officers were called to investigate reports of shots fired in the area of Joy Road and Marlowe Street on the city’s west side.

You can hear much more from Hudgens’ interview during Local 4 News at 4, 5, 6, and 11 p.m. Monday. Here’s what to expect:

  • 4 p.m.: Officer Hudgens describes her special relationship with Officer Courts.
  • 5 p.m.: Officer Hudgens breaks down what happened the day of the shooting.
  • 6 p.m.: Officer Hudgens talks about survivor’s guilt and what she would say to the gunman today.
  • 11 p.m.: Officer Hudgens shares her thoughts on gun safety and the city of Detroit.

You can watch a portion of the interview right now in the video player at the top of this page.

White said after Courts was shot, Hudgens risked her own life by prioritizing treating her partner’s wound over protecting herself from the gunman.

On Monday, Hudgens spoke publicly about her partner for the first time since the shooting.

“He was my first friend,” she said. “We sat next to each other at the academy.”

She said they became close friends, studied together, and eventually got assigned to different locations. He went to the Second Precinct, and she went to the east side.

“I missed him, and wanted to be his partner, so we texted, talked about it,” Hudgens said. “I put in my transfer papers, and within a couple of weeks I was over there, and we were partners ever since, for the last three and a half years.”

Hudgens called Courts her best friend. One of her daughters called him “Uncle Loren.”

“There’s been plenty of times we’ve run into gunfire together,” Hudgens said. “I remember there was a run for shots fired and we were in the area. It sounded like we were at war, the amount of shots that rang out. I looked at him, he looked at me. He said, ‘You got me?’ He put his hand out. I said, ‘Always,’ gave him a high five -- I always do. We went in.”

Wednesday’s shooting

Hudgens said Wednesday was just like any other day at work, but she and Courts were working a double shift. They were barbecuing on the grill at work when the call came in for a shooting.

She said they would often sign in the car, and on the way to the intersection of Joy Road and Marlowe Street, they listened to a song by Megan Thee Stallion and DaBaby.

Detroit police Officer Amanda Hudgens speaks with Local 4's Kimberly Gill on July 11, 2022. (WDIV)

“As soon as we got close, the radio got shut off,” Hudgens said. “We pull in. I remember hearing the gunshots, seeing the muzzle flash, feeling the glass break, and seeing him get out of the car as I’m getting out of the car.

“We run, in sync -- we move in sync, everything we do is in sync. He goes one way, I’m going the same. We’ve got each other, always. I see him holding his neck, and then he collapsed, and I just, I screamed a horrific scream. I couldn’t -- the east side heard me. Everybody heard me. I know the city of Detroit heard me, and I just held him, and I held pressure.

“I remember turning around and I remember seeing the gentleman holding a Draco. I knew what it was as soon as I saw it. I just looked at Loren, said, ‘I love you’ -- I wasn’t letting go of him, because I won’t ever let go of him, and I just held on and I turned my back. I couldn’t drag him to cover because I couldn’t let go. The only thing I could think of was to be his cover, and just hold him.”

Hudgens said she had her back to the gunman, trying to shield her partner. There was only one thing going through her mind:

“Save him,” she said. “Help me. You can’t leave me here. You’re my first friend here.

“I just begged him not to go. I could feel him breathing, and then it’s slowing down, and I just started to scream, ‘Help me.’ And I feel like he was watching over me, because that’s when the other officers came, because I was bracing to get shot by a Draco in my back. We have body armor. It doesn’t protect you from a Draco. It doesn’t protect you close, so I wanted to hold on because I knew all my weight on him might help him, and then everybody started coming and we were able to get him in the car.”

They got Courts back into a squad car and took him to the hospital. Hudgens said she followed in another squad car.

“Loren and I always talked about the ‘what ifs,’” she said. “We had to have that conversation. He didn’t want anybody else to call his family. He said, ‘You don’t call my mom, because I don’t want her to worry. You call my dad.’ So that’s what I did. We had each other’s parents’ phone numbers saved in our phones, and I called his dad, and I’m so thankful he answered.”

Hudgens said she made that call to Courts’ father while en route to the hospital.

What Chief White said

Here’s what the chief said Thursday about Hudgens’ actions:

“This brazen murderer, after shooting the officer, walks out of the building and proceeds toward the officer’s vehicle,” White said. “Officer Hudgens has to make a decision. She wants to keep direct pressure -- her training -- applied to our officer’s wounds, so that he has a chance to live. Behind her is the murderer, who is walking toward her with his assault rifle. She makes the decision to give her partner a chance to live, keeping her back to the assailant. I’ve never seen anything like that.

“She made a choice that many people in the same circumstance would say they would make, but it’s the first time I’ve ever seen anyone make it. She made a decision to put her life -- not on the line, I think she just prepared to die. She braced herself to be shot in the back of the head or the back while she administered first aid.

“So he’s advancing on her with an assault rifle. She’s administering first aid. She’s got her hand on the wound, applying direct pressure. Directly behind her, he’s advancing on her with the assault rifle, the Draco, and she glances back, braces herself, and continues to apply direct pressure. Thankfully, there’s another officer there who stops the threat. She’s a hero. She’s beyond hero.”

Click here to read what the chief said during Thursday’s briefing.

About the Authors:

You can watch Kimberly Gill weekdays anchoring Local 4 News at 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. and streaming live at 10 p.m. on Local 4+. She's an award-winning journalist who finally called Detroit home in 2014. Kim has won Regional Emmy Awards, and was part of the team that won the National Edward R. Murrow Award for Best Newscast in 2022.

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.